Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

September 18th, 2012 by Eric Lane Leave a reply »

 

A number of green patent complaints have been filed in the last several weeks in the areas of biofuels, LEDs, and solar mounting systems.

 

Biofuels

Gevo, Inc. v. Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC

Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC v. Gevo, Inc.

Add another two actions to the mega-litigation between these advanced biofuels rivals.   On August 13, 2012 Gevo filed another declaratory judgment action, this time for invalidity and non-infringement of Butamax’s U.S. Patent No. 8,241,878 (’878 Patent). 

The ’878 Patent is entitled “Recombinant yeast host cell with Fe-S cluster proteins and methods of using thereof” and directed to methods for the conversion of 2,3-dihydroxyisovalerate to alpha-ketoisovalerate using recombinant yeast host cells expressing a heterologous dihydroxy-acid dehydratase (DHAD) protein.  Gevo’s complaint was filed in federal court in Marshall, Texas.

Butamax fired back the next day with a patent infringement complaint in the District of Delaware asserting the ’878 Patent. 

These latest complaints bring the total number of actions between Gevo and Butamax to 12, with 10 patents asserted.

 

Danisco US Inc. v. Novozymes A/S

Filed August 27, 2012 in the Northern District of Iowa and the Northern District of California, Danisco’s complaint (see the Cal complaint here) seeks a declaratory judgment that the company’s Rapid Starch Liquefaction alpha-amylase products do not infringe Novozymes’s U.S. Patent No. 8,252,573 (’573 Patent) and that the ’573 Patent is invalid. 

In the alternative, Danisco is asking the court for a determination that its U.S. Patent No. 8,084,240 (’240 Patent) has priority over the ’573 Patent.  The ’573 Patent  is entitled “Alpha-amylase variant with altered properties” and is directed to an isolated variant polypeptide having alpha amylase activity and containing a substitution of glutamic acid for proline at position 188.

The ’240 Patent is entitled “Geobacillus stearothermophilus alpha-amylase (AMYS) variants with improved properties” and directed to an isolated variant of a truncated Geobacillus stearothermophilus enzyme containing a substitution of glutamic acid for proline at position 188 and exhibiting increased viscocity reduction in a starch liquefaction assay.

Danisco asserts that the named inventors on the ’240 Patent conceived of and reduced to practice the invention before Novozymes filed any patent claim to the Geobacillus stearothermophilus alpha-amylase variant.

Last year, Novozymes won an $18 million jury verdict against Danisco for infringement of a patent directed to certain alpha amylase variants.

 

LEDs

Lexington Luminance LLC v. Lighting Science Group Corp.

Lexington Luminance LLC v. Osram Sylvania Inc.

Lexington Luminance LLC v. Feit Electric Company, Inc.

In three actions filed on August 21, 2012 in the District of Massachusetts, Lexington Luminance accuses Lighting Science Group (Lexington-LSG Complaint), Osram Sylvania (Lexington-Osram Complaint) and Feit Electric Company (Lexington-Feit Complaint) of patent infringement. 

The asserted patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,936,851, is entitled “Semiconductor light-emitting device and method for manufacturing same” and directed to an LED device having a lattice mismatch system of etched trenches in the substrate and a layer including inclined lower portions to guide lattice defects away from propagating into the active layer of the LED.

The accused products are Lighting Science’s EcoSmart 8-watt GP19 and A19 LED bulbs, Sylvania’s 8-watt A19 LED bulb, and Feit’s 7.5 watt A19 and Utilitech Pro LED bulbs.

 

Cooper Lighting, LLC v. Cree, Inc. et al.

Georgia-based Cooper Lighting filed this patent infringement action against North Carolina LED maker Cree and Wisconsin-based Ruud Lighting on September 7, 2012 in federal court in Atlanta. 

The complaint alleges infringement of U.S. Patent No. 8,210,722, entitled “LED device for wide beam generation” and directed to an LED apparatus including an LED in a plane, an optic having a first lobe and a second lobe wherein the optic is oriented with respect to the LED such that the first lobe is on a first side of the plane and the second lobe is on the second side of the plane, wherein the optic is operable to receive light emitted by the light emitting diode and is operable to form the received light into a three-dimensional distribution of light that the plane intersects.

 

Solar  Mounting Systems

Sunmodo Corp. v. Unirac, Inc.

This declaratory judgment action was filed by a Washington state solar rack and mounting company called Sunmodo against its New Mexico competitor Unirac.  The complaint, filed August 8, 2012 in federal court in Tacoma, Washington, requests a declaratory judgment that Sunmodo’s Ez Roof Mount does not infinge U.S. Patent No. 8,128,044 (’044 Patent) and that the ’044 Patent is invalid.

The ’044 Patent is entitled “System for mounting a photovoltaic module to a surface” and directed to a system for mounting a photovoltaic module to a surface comprising a rail with at least two tracks, each having a channel, the rail being removably mountable to a footing grid, a plurality of keepers on which to mount the rail, and one or more clamps for connecting a photovoltaic module to the rail.

According to the complaint, Unirac’s counsel sent Sunmodo a letter in May entitled “Infringement of the U.S. Patent No. 8,128,044″  in which Unirac alleged that the Ez Roof Mount infringes the ’004 Patent, and the letter included a claim chart comparing elements of the product with claims of the ’044 Patent.

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