The ruling concerns the first of two legal disputes between the companies over Yanbu Petrochemicals Company (Yanpet)and Al-Jubail Petrochemicals Company (Kemya), two polyethylene ventures set up by Sabic and ExxonMobil in 1980.

The disputes first came to light in 1998, when Sabic says it filed an action with the New Jersey Federal Court on its own behalf and on behalf of the Kemya joint venture, seeking to enforce alleged promises relating to patent ownership rights made by ExxonMobil in a service agreement with Kemya. The patent rights at issue concern developments for increasing reactor and plant capacity at the plant. No trial date has been set for the New Jersey litigation.

Sabic says it filed a second action in July 2000 in the Delaware Superior Court following an accusation by ExxonMobil that Sabic had overcharged licensing fees for Kemya and Yanpet, on the basis of separately negotiated licence agreements executed in 1980.

After a two-week trial at the Delaware Superior Court, jurors returned a verdict on 22 March awarding ExxonMobil $416.8 million in damages.

‘Sabic continues to deny any wrongdoing in regard to its performance under the relevant agreement, and will seek review of the verdict through post-trial procedures and appeal to the Delaware Supreme Court,’ Sabic said in a 22 March statement. A spokesperson for ExxonMobil told MEED that the company was satisfied with the Delaware court ruling.