21 Juni 2012

Gevo win court battle over Butamax

Butamax denied preliminary injunction in long standing court case with Gevo over enzymes used to make isobutanol, a drop-in biofuel and biochemical compound

Gevo have announced that the US District Court of Delaware has denied Butamax a preliminary injunction over Gevo’s patented KARI enzyme technology. The decision means that Gevo is once again free to sell isobutanol in any market, to any customer and in any region.

The court case has been running since September 2011, when Butamax petitioned the court for a preliminary injunction against Gevo and accused Gevo of infringing Patent ‘889. Gevo opposed Butamax’s motion, explaining that the asserted claims of the ‘889 Patent were neither valid nor infringed. The court has now ruled in favour of Gevo and denied Butamax’s request for a preliminary injunction.

“We are pleased that the first judicial decision in this dispute landed decisively in favour of Gevo,” said Brett Lund, Executive Vice President of Gevo. “For the last year, we have publicly stated that we believe that Patent No. 7,993,889 (‘889 Patent) is invalid and that we do not infringe. This ruling provides judicial support for both positions.”

The two companies are still in litigation over two other patents but Gevo believe that Butamax’s ‘889 and ‘188 patents are now “unpatentable”.

“This is important, because the same definitions are provided within Butamax’s ‘188 and ‘328 patents that have also been asserted against Gevo,” said Lund.
“We are up against two of the biggest companies in our industry (BP and DuPont) and believe that Butamax’s failed motion and ongoing infringement claims are without merit and are merely attempts to derail Gevo’s progress,” said Lund.

Commenting on the decision Dr Adrian Higson, Head of Biorefining at NNFCC, said: “This is another significant step for Gevo in proving the novelty of their process and its differentiation from Butamax. We hope the industry can now make real progress delivering on the potential isobutanol offers as a drop-in biofuel and chemical building block.”

Following the news, Gevo’s share price rose by more than 30 per cent to reach 7.75 by the close of the day. Gevo will now continue the startup of their Luverne Plant which began production of isobutanol earlier this year and is now being scaled up to its full 18 million gallons per year capacity.

However, Butamax have confirmed their intent to defend their patents, saying: “The court’s decision is not a final determination of infringement or invalidity concerning the ‘188 and ‘889 patents as it is merely a determination that the extraordinary remedy of a preliminary injunction is not available at this time. This is an early step in a long and complex litigation process,” commented Paul Beckwith, Butamax CEO. “We remain highly confident in the ultimate outcome of this case and our other cases against Gevo.”

Source: NNFCC, 2012-06-21.

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