Cleantech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

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Several green patent complaints have been filed in the last several weeks in the areas of biofuels and LEDs.

Biofuels

The big story in biofuels patent litigation is the rapidly expanding patent war between advanced biofuels companies Gevo and BP-DuPont joint venture Butamax. Since our last update, these biobutanol rivals have added five more actions to the mix, all in the District of Delaware.

On September 25, 2012, Gevo filed a complaint accusing Butamax of infringing U.S. Patent No. 8,273,565 (’565 Patent). The suit was filed the day the ’565 Patent issued.

The ’565 Patent is entitled “Methods of increasing dihydroxy acid dehydratase activity to improve production of fuels, chemicals, and amino acids” and directed to a recombinant yeast microorganism comprising a recombinantly overexpressed polynucleotide encoding a dihydroxy acid dehydratase (DHAD) and methods of using the microorganism to produce beneficial metabolites derived from DHAD-requiring biosynthetic pathways.

The same day Butamax fired back with a declaratory judgment action for non-infringement and invalidity of the ’565 Patent and a new patent infringement suit of its own. The Butamax infringement complaint accused Gevo of infringing U.S. Patent No. 8,273,558, entitled “Fermentive production of four carbon alcohols” (’558 Patent).

Also issued on September 25, 2012, the ’558 Patent is directed to a recombinant yeast host cell comprising genes encoding an engineered isobutanol biosynthetic pathway that increases the production of isobutanol. The recombinantly expressed enzymes used in the pathway are expressed in the cytosol, and the recombinant yeast host cell is capable of producing isobutanol through certain substrate to product conversions.

Two weeks later, on October 9, 2012, Butamax filed another infringement complaint, by which it asserted another new patent – U.S. Patent No. 8,283,144 – which is related to the ’558 Patent and also entitled “Fermentive production of four carbon alcohols.”

The same day, Butamax launched another preemptive strike with a declaratory judgment action relating to Gevo’s brand new U.S. Patent No. 8,283,505 (’505 Patent).

According to the complaint, the ’505 Patent is related to U.S. Patent No. 8,101,808, which Gevo has accused Butamax of infringing. Both patents are entitled “Recovery of higher alcohols from dilute aqueous solutions” and relate to methods of recovering C3-C6 alcohols from dilute aqueous solutions such as fermentation broths.

This mega-litigation now involves 17 different actions and 14 patents.

LEDs

Bluestone Innovations, LLC v. E&S International Enterprises, Inc. et al.

Bluestone Innovations, LLC v. Acer, Inc. et al.

In two complaints filed September 13, 2012 in the Eastern District of Virginia (Bluestone-E&S Complaint; Bluestone-Acer Complaint), Florida-based patent licensing company Bluestone Innovations has accused E&S International (ESI) and Acer of infringing U.S. Patent No. 6,163,557.

The ’557 Patent is entitled “Fabrication of group III-V nitrides on mesas” and directed to group III-V nitride films fabricated on mesas patterned either on substrates such as sapphire substrates or on group III-V nitride layers grown on substrates. The mesas provide reduced area surfaces for epitaxially growing group III-V nitride films to reduce thermal film stresses in the films to minimize cracking.

The accused devices are ESI’s Viore and iSymphony LED backlit televisions and Acer’s S231HL LED backlit monitors.

LED Tech Development, LLC v. The Coleman Company

LED Tech Development, LLC v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.

On October 3, 2012, LED Tech sued the Coleman Company and Home Depot alleging infringement of two patents relating to LED lighting.

The Coleman complaint asserts U.S. Patent No. 6,808,287, entitled “Method and apparatus for a pulsed L.E.D. illumination source” (287 Patent) and directed to a hand held portable LED device that maintains a predetermined light output level by selectively applying pulsed power from a DC voltage source to the LED units. The accused device is Coleman’s Exponent 2 CR123A Lithium flashlight.

The Home Depot Complaint alleges infringement of the ’287 Patent as well as U.S. Patent No. 6,095,661, a parent of the ’287 Patent entitled “Method and Apparatus for an L.E.D. Flashlight.” The accused product is the Fenix 72 Lumens Max Performance Cree XP-G R4 LED flashlight.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at elane@mckennalong.com

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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