Imposed restrictions remain in place in biofuels patent case
A patent fight between the two companies has erupted over Gevo Inc. entering into the automobile fuels market. United States District Court Judge Sue Robinson has prohibited Gevo Inc. from transferring isobutanol for any purposes related to the automotive fuel blending market from its start-up facility in Luverne, Minnesota until the appeal by the Butamax company is resolved.
Butamax, which is a joint venture between the DuPont Co. and BP, and is looking to sell biobutanol for use as an additive in automobile fuel, believes it will suffer irreparable damages if Gevo Inc., a Colorado-based company, is allowed to enter the fuels market before a final court determines whether or not Gevo Inc. is infringing upon Butamax patents.
Prior to these events, Butamax was appealing a preliminary injunction in a patent infringement lawsuit they filed against Gevo Inc. While they awaited the ruling of the injunction, Judge Robinson came to the conclusion that Butamax did not have a valid patent, and Gevo announced that it was free to sell to any customer in any market its isobutanol, this including the fuels industry.
Butamax CEO, Paul Beckwith, commented on the remaining imposed restrictions on Gevo Inc., saying "We are pleased with the reinstatement of the temporary restraining order while we pursue appeal of the June 20 preliminary injunction decision. We are confident in the merits of our appeal."
If Butamax's patent is found valid, and it is found Gevo Inc. infringed upon its rights, Judge Robinson concluded that allowing Gevo Inc. to even "seed" the fuel market would cause irreparable damage to Butamax, as Butamax's sole target is the automobile fuel blending industry.
However, Gevo Inc. maintains that the restrictions on its 5% of markets would still cause it irreparable harm, even though they previously represented that 95% of their sales have been for non-fuel purposes. That 5% they maintained as "critical to developing relationships in the long term with refiners and with validating (defendant's) commercial plan." 
To this Judge Robinson wrote, "Despite defendant's excellent word-smithing, the court rejects the notion that defendant's activities in the fuel markets can be critical to defendant's business survival but not critical to plaintiff's future success."
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