Agri-Process Innovations Wins Home Court Advantage in Biodiesel Processor Suit

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I’ve written in this space before about the lawsuits between California biofuel processor designer Greenline Industries (Greenline) and Agri-Process Innovations (API), an Arkansas engineering firm, involving processor design copyrights and allegations of breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets and false advertising.

The technology relates to processors that convert feedstocks such as seed oils and animal fats into biodiesel fuels.

Greenline’s proprietary technology provides waterless systems to clean the fuel, allowing producers to avoid the time and money associated with introducing water into the process and later separating it out. 

Greenline also enjoys an exclusive worldwide license to continuous flow technology, which greatly increases its processors’ production capacity. 

A recent post discussed the companies’ tussle over venue, with Greenline trying to move a suit API initially filed in Arkansas to federal court in California and API fighting to transfer Greenline’s subsequent northern California case to Arkansas. 

In July the federal court in Oakland, California, where Greenline had filed suit, decided to defer to the Arkansas court to decide where the cases should go forward.

In an order signed last month (greenline_arkansas_order.pdf), Judge Brian S. Miller of the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock ruled that Arkansas is the proper venue for the case. 

In the event that two lawsuits involving the same parties and same issues are filed in different jurisdictions, federal courts apply a first-to-file rule, subject to certain limited exceptions, to determine where the suit will proceed. 

Judge Miller held that none of the exceptions, which include inequitable conduct, bad faith, anticipatory suit and forum shopping, applied in this case, and so the case will proceed in API’s home state of Arkansas because API beat its opponent to the punch, filing suit there before Greenline sued in California.

There is a third lawsuit pending between Greenline and API in federal court in Los Angeles, which also may be transferred to Arkansas.  API has moved to dismiss that case, and in the alternative, to transfer the case to Arkansas to be tried together with the other suits (api_motion_transfer.pdf).

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Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.