Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) won a 20-month-long patent dispute lawsuit in Japan, the company announced on March 11.
A Japanese company filed an appeal against DSME's technology on partial reliquefaction of evaporating LNG, a core technology for building LNG-powered vessels, which was registered with a Japanese patent agency.
In Japan, a patent appeal case usually takes about seven months. But this case took about 20 months, showing that the two sides had a fierce legal battle. DSME will be able to maintain its competitive advantage because the patent is applied not only to LNG carriers that are built in Japan but to LNG carriers that make a port call in Japan, DSME explained.
DSME's partial reliquefaction system (PRS), which was the bone of contention, is a technology to minimize the loss of cargo by re-liquidating gas that is partially vaporized and lost during the process of transporting natural gas. This technology reduces vessel maintenance and operating costs. Compared with the cost for installing old liquefaction equipment, it costs about 4 billion won less to install and saves the owner of a ship about 1 billion won in vessel operating cost a year. Thus, ship owners have no choice but to load this technology into their ships.
"The PRS has already been patented in more than 10 countries and we will be able to continue shoring up our competitiveness in landing new LNG tanker orders and building LNG tankers in the future as we confirmed the validity of the patent in Japan this time," a DSME official said. "We have secured the largest number of patents on fuel supply technology and gas re-liquefaction technology in the world. Harnessing such excellent patents, we will contribute to the development of the Korean shipbuilding industry by outperforming overseas competitors."