A U.S. judge who told Gevo Inc. last month it didn’t infringe a patent held by Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC, a joint venture of DuPont Co. and BP Plc, today ordered it not to distribute its renewable-fuel products to any third party related to automotive use during an appeal.
Butamax sued Gevo, backed by the oil refiner Total SA and specialty-chemicals maker Lanxess AG, in 2011 alleging misuse of technology for genetically engineered microorganisms used to produce biofuels. U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson in mid-June denied Butamax’s bid to block Gevo’s fuel sales.
“While the court concluded” that Butamax “doesn’t hold a valid patent” and Gevo doesn’t infringe, “the court readily acknowledges that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit could disagree,” Robinson wrote in an order today staying her earlier ruling and asking for an expedited appeal.
She said Gevo “shall not deliver, provide, distribute, ship, release or transfer in any way” its yeast product until the Washington court makes its decision.
Brett Lund, Gevo’s general counsel, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment on the ruling.
“We are pleased with the reinstatement of the temporary restraining order while we pursue appeal of the June 20 preliminary injunction decision,” Butamax Chief Executive Officer Paul Beckwith said in an e-mailed statement. “We are confident in the merits of our appeal.”
Gevo, based in Englewood, Colorado, is involved in several patent lawsuits with Wilmington-based Butamax. Gevo built a biofuels plant in Luverne, Minnesota, to produce renewable additives for refiners that make diesel and jet fuel.
Gevo fell 8 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $4.44 today in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. DuPont fell 71 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $48.90 in trading in New York.
The case is Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC v. Gevo Inc., 11-cv-54, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).