AgriDyne Technologies Inc. has filed a complaint in court seeking adeclaratory judgment against W.R. Grace and Co. in a patent dispute.The complaint relates to AgriDyne's neem-based liquid formulation,Azatin EC, a biopesticide developed for the greenhouse and ornamentalmarket that competes with Grace's neem-based insecticide, Margosan-O. The move appeared to take Grace by surprise."They [Grace] have been harassing us in the marketplace," Eric Hale,Agridyne's president and CEO, told BioWorld Today. "They havebeen claiming to our customers and distributors that our productinfringed on certain patents on their products. This created someconcern. We were constantly having to respond and say our patents arevalid. We had enough and felt that the best thing to do was to take anoffensive position to get the issue resolved."The complaint, filed Friday with the U.S. District Court in Salt LakeCity, where AgriDyne is located, seeks a declaratory judgment statingthat Grace's patent is not valid and that it has not been infringed. Halesaid AgriDyne is not asking for damages at this stage.Grace, which is based in Boca Raton, Fla., said it has not yet seenAgriDyne's complaint and could not comment. "However, we dointend to vigorously pursue and protect our patent rights in thismatter," a spokesman for the company said.Azatin has been marketed since October 1992. However, Hale said theproblems with Grace developed in the 1994 growing season whenAgriDyne began a big marketing push for Azatin after gearing up itsproduction capacity. _ Philippa Maister

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