Recent information has indicated that some patents will expire during 2003. Is this true? If so, what impact will this have on SinterCast.


Shareholder, name withheld

SinterCast currently holds 25 patents. These patents address our metallurgical technology (13), our sampling technique and hardware (6), product applications (3) and CGI machining (3). The core process control patents are held in up to 13 countries around the world while the supporting patents are held in fewer countries. In total, SinterCast has 132 individual national patents granted or pending worldwide.

The first SinterCast patent was filed on 12 September 1984 and was initially held in 25 different countries. However, as it has become quite old and no longer represents our current technology, we have already withdrawn it from most of the countries. It is currently held in only three countries. As the life of a patent is typically 18 years (although this differs from country-to-country, and can usually be extended for 2 or 3 years by making additional payments), the first patent is indeed nearing expiration. We will not extend this patent. The second SinterCast patent was filed on 2 May 1985. It is currently held in only one country and it will also not be extended. The third SinterCast patent was filed in 1990 and will remain valid until at least 2008.

SinterCast has had a very strong technical development over the last ten years. Our current technology is therefore vastly different from the patents of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. The current technology is well-protected by patents that were filed during the late 1990’s. These core patents are active in up to 13 different countries each, and these are the patents that we will trade upon and that will protect SinterCast over the next decade. We will also continue to file new patents to extend the duration and breadth of our protection.

In summary, the initial patent has no relevance to our current technology or patent protection strategy. We have already withdrawn it from most countries and we will not extend it in the remaining countries. The SinterCast patent protection strategy is based on the newer patents which more accurately reflect our current technology. These patents are new and strong, and ensure the long-term security of our technology.