Butamax granted new patent, files 2nd lawsuit against Gevo

By Erin Voegele | August 11, 2011

Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC has expanded its intellectual property with the award of a new patent. The company is also continuing to pursue legal action against Gevo Inc. for patent infringement.

Regarding the new patent, Butamax has announced the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted the company patent number 7,993,889, which addresses foundational methods for the low-cost production of biobutanol.

According to information sourced from the USPTO patent database, the patent addresses the fermentative production of four carbon alcohols. “Specifically, butanol, preferably isobutanol is produced by the fermentative growth of a recombinant bacterium expressing an isobutanol biosynthetic pathway,” states the patent abstract. Butamax filed for the patent in January 2008.

 Butamax currently has more than 100 patent applications pending in addition to those already granted. In addition, the company has a several patent applications under accelerated review in the USPTO Green Technology Pilot Program.

“The strength of Butamax’s patent portfolio is a testament to our company’s innovation capability and is a critical asset as we commercialize the most significant new fuel molecule since ethanol,” said Paul Beckwith, CEO of Butamax. 

On Aug. 9 Butamax announced the filing of a second patent infringement case against Gevo, alleging Gevo has unlawfully used Butamax technology. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Delaware. The lawsuit addresses Gevo’s infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,933,889, which was granted the same day.

“Butamax is committed to protecting its technology and ensuring maximum value for its customers and licensees,” explained Christine Lhulier, vice president and general counsel of Butamax. “We pioneered fermentative production of isobutanol and violation of our intellectual property rights is unacceptable.”

In response, Gevo has issued a statement asserting that the lawsuit is without merit, and that the new lawsuit will be consolidated into a single case with the lawsuit Butamax filed in January. "We are the leaders in the technology and commercialization of low-cost isobutanol,” said Gevo CEO Pat Gruber. “Unfortunately, lawsuits like this are typical disputes that leaders face. We will vigorously challenge these patents and Butamax's infringement allegations. We believe that these disputes will eventually reveal the superiority of Gevo's innovations in this field. We will continue to lead, keeping the focus on the production of low-cost isobutanol, deploying our technology, and securing additional offtake agreements."