Thursday, September 27, 2012

Alkaline hydrolysis: for dead bodies and other things

The CAFC case Matthews v. Biosafe pertains to unusual subject matter:

Matthews is a leader in the “death care” industry. It manufactures cremation equipment, caskets, and bronze memorials and sells them to funeral homes. Matthews is currently marketing a Bio CremationTM product, which uses an alkaline hydrolysis1 process, rather than incin- eration, to cremate human remains. According to Mat- thews, the Bio CremationTM equipment offers an “environmentally friendly” alternative to traditional flame-based cremation.
n 2007, Biosafe Engineering, LLC and Digestor, LLC (collectively “Biosafe”) were formed to operate the busi- ness acquired from a bankrupt company, Waste Reduction by Waste Reduction, Inc. (“WR2”), and to hold the patents acquired from WR2. Biosafe ultimately acquired several patents related to the application of alkaline hydrolysis to the disposal of various types of waste, such as medical waste, infectious agents, and hazardous materials. These patents include five method patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 5,332,532, 6,437,211, 6,472,580, 7,183,453, and 7,829,755 (collectively the “Method Patents”), and one system pat- ent, U.S. Patent No. 7,910,788 (the “System Patent”).

The legal issues:

On February 28, 2011, Matthews filed suit against Biosafe, seeking a declaratory judgment of non- infringement, invalidity, and unenforceability of the Method Patents. Matthews also asserted state-law claims of trade libel, defamation, and tortious interference with contractual relations.


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