Palo Alto – August 27, 2015 – Cooley client Gevo, a pioneer in the biofuels industry, signed a global patent cross-license and settlement agreement with Butamax, a joint venture between DuPont and BP. The agreement successfully resolves a multi-year, multi-suit, patent dispute between the two companies. The details of the settlement are confidential.
According to the companies' joint press release: "This settlement ends all of the lawsuits and creates a new relationship between the companies, aimed at leveraging each other's strengths and accelerating development of competitive supply for bio-based isobutanol."
Isobutanol is a naturally occurring four carbon alcohol that aims to allow customers to replace petroleum-derived raw materials with isobutanol-derived raw materials. Isobutanol can be produced economically at large scale via a fermentation process. According to Gevo's annual report, the addressable worldwide market for isobutanol is several billion USD annually.
The Cooley core litigation team advising Gevo was led by partners Michelle Rhyu and Jim Brogan, and over time included Cooley's chairman Stephen Neal, along with partner Ellen Scordino and associates Daniel Knauss, Adam Pivovar, Adam Trigg, Kathryn Duvall, Andrew Keith and Josh Marcus.
In 2011, Gevo's creation of microorganisms that produce an ethanol alternative biofuel became the center of a multi-year and multi-suit patent litigation dispute initiated by Butamax in the District of Delaware. Both companies filed close to a dozen patent suits against each other involving more than fifteen patents for bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based products.
Since then, Cooley has successfully defended Gevo against Butamax's claims on several fronts, including defeating a motion for preliminary injunction brought by Butamax, winning a key claim construction dispute that resulted in stipulated judgment of non-infringement of two patents, winning summary judgment of non-infringement and invalidity of another patent, defeating motions for summary judgment of infringement of various patents, and convincing the Patent Office to order reexamination of each challenged Butamax patent. Notably, in one of the lawsuits, Cooley petitioned the US Supreme Court to review a Federal Circuit decision that reversed the District Court's judgment of non-infringement in favor of Gevo. Cooley was successful in convincing the high court to vacate the Federal Circuit's Opinion against Gevo and remand the case back for reconsideration.
In August 2015, with trial scheduled to begin on two of Butamax's patents, Gevo and Butamax agreed to form a new, more productive relationship, ending all of the ongoing lawsuits.
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