Gevo Probably Didn't Infringe Butamax Patent, Judge Rules
By Phil Milford – Jun 20, 2012 9:46 AM ET
Gevo Inc. probably didn’t infringe a patent held by Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, a joint venture of DuPont Co. (DD) and BP Plc (BP/), and is free to sell its renewable-fuel products, a judge said in a pretrial ruling. Gevo surged as much as 59 percent.
Butamax sued Gevo, backed by the oil refiner Total SA (FP) and specialty-chemicals maker Lanxess AG (LXS), in 2011 alleging misuse of technology for genetically engineered microorganisms used to produce biofuels. U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson, in an opinion filed yesterday, denied Butamax’s request for a preliminary injunction to block Gevo’s fuel sales.
“The court finds it unlikely that plaintiff will prevail on its claim of infringement” at trial, Robinson wrote in a 25- page opinion in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. She also said that Gevo “raised a substantial question concerning validity” of two patent claims based on earlier inventions.
Gevo, based in Englewood, Colorado, is involved in several patent lawsuits with Wilmington-based Butamax. Gevo built a biofuels plant in Luverne, Minnesota, to produce renewable additives to be sold to oil refiners that make diesel and jet fuel. The Minnesota plant can also produce ethanol, according to court papers.
Based on the ruling, Gevo may sell fuels “in any market, to any customer, in any region,” the company said in a statement today.
Gevo rose 43 percent to $8.47 at 9:40 a.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares earlier reached $9.44, the highest since May 3.
Butamax said it plans to appeal.
“This is an early step in a long and complex litigation process,” Butamax Chief Executive Officer Paul Beckwith said in a statement. “We remain highly confident in the ultimate outcome of this case and our other cases against Gevo.”
The case is Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC v. Gevo Inc. (GEVO), 11cv54, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
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