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The European Central Bank is being sued by a security company, claiming that every euro banknote in circulation infringes its anti-counterfeiting patent.

Document Security Systems Inc., based in Rochester, N.Y., filed the complaint against the bank at the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg yesterday, the company said in a statement. ECB spokeswoman Regina Schueller declined to comment.

Document Security said it owns the patent on technology used on euro notes that stops them from being forged using digital scanners.

"There have been 30 billion euro notes printed to date, and they purportedly cost the European Union 10 U.S. cents to print, including the paper, the printing and the technology," Document Security chief executive officer Patrick White said in a telephone interview. An award of a percentage of that would be "a very significant figure," Mr. White said.

A number of non-European currencies printed in Britain also infringe the patent, Mr. White said. The company is also planning litigation against them, he added.

The European Court of First Instance handles complaints against European institutions. The patent is European Patent 455750B1. The case is T-295/05, Document Security Systems Inc. v. European Central Bank. Bloomberg

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