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Alstom IPR case related to Maritza East 2 desulphurisation

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After 5 years of legal action, Alstom aims to have its rights recognized by Bulgarian jurisdictions concerning a serious case of fraud and misappropriation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the desulphurisation project of Maritza East 2 coal fired power plant.

The project was awarded to the Insigma/Idreco consortium in 2008 to enable the power plant to comply with European directives for air quality and pollutant emission. Alstom considers that the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court on 18 December 2013 to reject its complaint is a denial of justice. Alstom hopes to have its right recognised in appeal by the Bulgarian jurisdiction on 21 January 2014.

Alstom has provided overwhelming evidence that key documents (process flow diagrams and desulphurisation absorber drawings), produced by the Insigma/Idreco consortium during project execution, are perfectly matching the ones Alstom trained Insigma on, during the licence agreement signed in 2004 for the sole territory of China. In addition, the documents are bearing the name of the chinese engineers from Insigma who signed confidentiality undertakings under the licence agreement.

The wet flue gas desulphurisation (WFGD) technology is used to remove sulphur dioxide from flue gases at coal fired power plants.  Alstom has been developing its WFGD technology since the 1960s, and is a world leader in this technology.

The protection of industrial property and trade secrets and the way it is enforced in the EU member states is clearly at stake.


Context :

2004: Alstom licensed its desulphurisation technology to Insigma for the sole territory of China (PRC)

2008: Award of the Maritza East 2 desulphurisation project to the Idreco/Insigma consortium. (85 MEUR), which was to be partially financed by European funds (34 MEUR loan and 34 MEUR grant).

2009: Independent investigations of the European Commission OLAF and EBRD which concluded to fraudulent practises.

2010: The Singapore arbitration tribunal awarded damages and interests of an amount exceeding 35 MSUD to Alstom as per the violation of its IPR.

2011: In first instance, the Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) in Bulgaria imposed a fine of 75.000 Euros to Idreco/Insigma consortium for having falsified its references in order to meet the qualification criteria but rejected the Alstoms claims in relation with the violation of its IPR.

2012: In appeal, the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) in Bulgaria cancelled the fine.

2013: In cassational appeal, the SAC has partially cancelled this decision and sent back to CPC for a new trial outlining that the conclusions of the investigation report of the European Commission (OLAF) could not be ignored.

December 2013: The SAC by another appalling decision rejected new and overwhelming evidence in relation with the illicit use of Alstoms technology.