Technology: Chemical Warfare

The way to big money in the chemical industry is to develop some far-out fiber, plastic or chemical and then to build a fence of patents around it. Example: nylon. At a cost of $27 million, Du Pont developed nylon in the 1930s; for 15 years until its patent expired, Du Pont got about one-third of its profits from nylon.

Last week in Delaware's U.S. District Court, Du Pont was fighting to protect its far vaster investment ($50 million) in another product, Delrin, a remarkably hard and versatile plastic that, since it was introduced in 1960. has...

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