Honeywell International Inc. was targeted by an antitrust complaint from chemical company Arkema, which alleges Honeywell prevents fair competition for the only car-coolant chemical that currently meets new European Union standards on greenhouse-gas emissions.
Arkema filed the complaint with the EU’s antitrust authority seeking a "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory license to Honeywell’s patents" for 1234yf, a refrigerant used in car air-conditioning systems, according to a statement on Friday. Honeywell’s practices harm consumers, car makers and the environment "as the entire car industry is moving to worldwide deployment of 1234yf."
Honeywell has already been the subject of a stalled EU probe into the refrigerant. Three years ago, the European Commission told Honeywell and Chemours Co., then owned by DuPont Co., that they might have unfairly limited supplies of the chemical. Arkema had filed a complaint in that investigation that it says it has now withdrawn.
Honeywell said the new complaint is "without merit" and appears to restate issues regulators decided not to pursue several years ago. The company "remains convinced that it acts in full compliance with EU competition rules." It has invested nearly $1 billion to bring the coolant to market, it said in an emailed statement.
Ricardo Cardoso, a spokesman for the commission, confirmed the EU received the new complaint and declined to comment on the outcome of the older case because it’s still ongoing.
The refrigerant for car air-conditioning systems was expected to be a cash cow for Honeywell as it replaces ozone-depleting alternatives in new vehicles sold in the 28-nation bloc. EU industry officials clashed with Germany after Daimler AG refused to use the product for safety reasons.
New EU rules mandating the use of more climate-friendly chemicals for air-conditioning entered into force at the start of this year.