Techcross acquires patents for installation solutions to head off disputes

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 23 March 2020


South Korean ballast treatment system maker has acquired patents from Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and Hitachi which it says resolves potential conflict regarding source technology.

In a statement issued today Techcross referred to the famous design patent lawsuit between Apple and Samsung in 2011 and said patent disputes have been on the rise since 1995, when the dispute mediation committee was founded in Korea. This is a global phenomenon, which indicates a move to prepare for potential disputes by securing patents for source technology as the competition among countries and firms accelerated with advances in the manufacturing sector since the 1980s. Intellectual property rights, protected by patents, do not provide an absolute guarantee of benefit for their holders. They, however, enable the holders to raise objections against cases of violation and provide minimal defence in such claims. If a company loses intellectual property disputes due to a lack of preparation, it will not only have to pay damage compensations but also suffer declining sales and market brand value, which can also create a ripple effect for the national economy. As such, companies are advised to prepare for all possibilities and potential cases as much as possible in the developing market in which the competition is becoming fiercer.

Under these circumstances, Techcross entered into a patent transfer agreement with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding and Hitachi to receive the patent for a ballast water management system (BWMS) installation solution. The transfer of rights will be completed by the beginning of June at least as each country finishes administrative procedures. The patent is recognised in four major shipbuilding countries including Korea, China, Indonesia and Philippines.

The patent was originally registered in 2011. It covers a ship structure solution enabling the installation of ballast systems in appropriate locations regardless of the ship type and ballast water treatment methods used. The comprehensive installation solution handles the installation location of direct/indirect electrolysis equipment and pipe structures of UV and electrolysis equipment. The solution is unique because systems can be installed near the bridge towards the aft of a ship, allowing effective use of spaces in the ship. As such, ship structures or hull shapes do not need to be largely modified to install BWMS when using this solution. This also means that BWMS can be easily installed on new and existing ships alike.

As of 2020, Techcross holds 115 patents and utility models regarding ballast treatment systems, related technologies, and installation solutions. The company continues to develop technology through sustained research projects, purchasing patents if needed to secure the source technology. In doing so, Techcross provides customers with reliable services under various circumstances. The key objective of this patent transfer is to ensure that all Techcross customers are supplied legal product solutions reliably within the scope of the international law, as well as to eliminate potential risks such as legal disputes. The competition in the ship ballast equipment industry will elevate for the next four to five years, which is expected to cause much fatigue for suppliers and consumers alike. The acquisition of new patents by Techcross will not only lift the risk of undesired incidents that are unrelated to individual intentions but also help clients grow their businesses.

Such acquisition of source technology through the maintenance of intellectual property rights, in addition to investments in the largest manufacturing factory in the industry, a training centre, and an extensive global network, shows the serious attitude of Techcross when it comes to the ballast water management business. Such investments have paid off, bringing the company $152m in sales in 2019, a 230% growth compared to the previous year. Techcross is continuing its business in 2020 with a goal of doubling the sales figure to $295m.

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