Butamax, Gevo patent infringement case returning to court

By Holly Jessen | February 21, 2014

A Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC’s patent infringement case against Gevo Inc. will return to U.S. District Court for trial, as ordered by Judge Sue L. Robinson on Feb. 18.

Butamax appealed a March 2013 district court decision that concluded Gevo did not infringe on Butamax patents.  Robinson, a federal U.S. Appeals Court judge, vacated the district court’s denial of Butamax’s motion for summary judgment on infringement of the ‘188 and ‘889 patents and vacated the granting of Gevo’s motion for summary judgment of noninfringement. She also reversed a granting of Gevo’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity for lack of written description of two claims the ‘889 patents.

Gevo issued a press release that said that the new district court trial will determine two things, whether the patents are valid and whether Gevo infringes on them. “The claims of the two Butamax patents at issue are currently under reexamination at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which has declared them unpatentable,” the company said. “Gevo believes that it does not infringe any valid claims, and at this time maintains freedom to produce and sell isobutanol worldwide and into all markets.”

Butamax acknowledged in its press release that the ‘188 and ‘889 patents are in re-examination at USPTO but clarified that they are currently valid and enforceable. In addition, an examiner from USPTO found patentability of a Butamax patent claim. “With this early indication of validity from the USPTO, Butamax is confident that key patent claims will withstand challenge,” the company said, adding that Butamax has asserted six other patents against Gevo and that three of those are scheduled to go to trial in the summer.

 “We are extremely pleased with the multiple rulings in our favor from the Federal Circuit,” said Paul Beckwith, Butamax CEO. “These decisions strongly support Butamax’s efforts to protect its pioneering inventions covering economic production of isobutanol by fermentation.”