Alstom is taking a former Chinese partner to court over an allegation of intellectual property theft involving the French firm’s clean coal technology.

A Bulgarian court is examining the allegation that Chinese company Insigma stole the technology for its own use. Originally back in 2004 Alstom had licensed the technology, which is used to reduce sulphur emissions at coal-fired power plants, to the Chinese firm, but it was only meant for use in the Chinese market.

The agreement was later terminated after Insigma stopped paying royalties, and in 2010 Alstom successfully sued their partner at the Singapore International Arbitration Court for $35m (EUR25.8m).

However according to Bulgaria-based Standart News, Insigma later teamed up with Italian firm Idreco and won a contract in 2008 to fit out a Bulgarian power plant — using, according to Alstom, its technology, and beating off a rival offer from … Alstom.

“Our major problem is the recognition that this is our technology,” Alstom’s marketing director for Europe Guillaume Geoffroy told AFP.

Deadline delays prompted the Bulgarian authorities to cancel the Insigma-Idreco contract in late 2012 but the installations have nevertheless entered into operation in April 2013, the plant confirmed in a statement.

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