Green Patent Acquisitions: BP Buys Verenium’s Biofuels Business

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Last month Verenium announced that BP Biofuels North America would acquire its cellulosic biofuels business for $98.3 million.  

Verenium will retain its commercial enzyme business and maintain rights to its biofuels enzyme products.  In addition, it will have the right to access select biofuels technology that BP develops using the acquired technology and to develop its own cellulosic enzyme program.

The purchase includes Verenium’s  pilot plant and demo-scale facility in Jennings, Louisiana and its R&D facilities in San Diego.

As to intellectual property assets, the Verenium press release says that BP will acquire Verenium’s “cellulosic biofuels technology and related IP” and “cellulosic enzyme technology and related IP.”

It has not been made public which of Verenium’s at least 28 U.S. patents, 23 pending U.S. patent applications and 28 international patent applications are part of the acquisition.  

A search for Verenium’s U.S. patents that contain the terms “cellulosic”, “ethanol” and “enzyme” may provide a hint in the eight hits it yields:  U.S. Patent Nos. 7,741,089, 7,592,434, 7,547,534, 7,504,120, 7,452,706, 7,432,098, 7,432,097 and 7,416,874.  Though some of these patents describe other industrial applications, several relate to phytases or xylanases, enzymes that are useful in ethanol production.

According to this BNET piece, this deal is good for Verenium because it allows the company to sell off the cellulosic ethanol unit that has been losing money and focus on its revenue-generating commercial enzyme business.

In recent years, the two companies have been collaborating on cellulosic ethanol development in two joint ventures called Galaxy Biofuels and Vercipia Biofuels.

Eric Lane Avatar

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.