Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

There have been a few green patent complaints filed in the last several weeks in the areas of LEDs, solar power, and biofuels.



Fiber Optic Designs, Inc. v. Seasons 4, Inc.

Filed December 16, 2011 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Fiber Optic Designs’ (FOD) complaint (FiberOptic_Complaint) alleges that Seasons 4 is infringing two patents directed to light strings containing light emitting diodes. 

The two asserted patents are of the same family, U.S. Patents Nos. 7,220,022 and 7,934,852, both entitled “Jacketed LED assemblies and light strings containing same.”



Zep Solar Inc. v. Westinghouse Solar Inc.

In the latest missive in this growing legal battle, Zep has asserted U.S. Patent No. 7,592,537 (‘537 Patent) against Westinghouse (formerly Akeena Solar).  The ‘537 Patent is entitled “Method and apparatus for mounting photovoltaic modules” and is directed to an interlocking PV module array.

Although the complaint is not publicly available, we have this Filing Report (Zep-Westinghouse_Report) and Westinghouse’s Answer (Westinghouse_Answer) in the case, filed December 20, 2011 in the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

The accused device is Westinghouse’s Andalay Groove Interlock product, and other named defendants are Andalay Solar, Lightway Green New Energy, Brightway Global, Morrison Supply Company, Sky Solar Solutions, and Alternative Power & Electric. 

This lawsuit follows other actions between these two competing solar installers (see more details in a previous post here), which now have cross claims of patent infringement in multiple forums.



Gevo, Inc. v. Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC

Another growing patent dispute is the one between Butamax, a BP-DuPont joint venture, and Colorado advanced biofuels startup Gevo (read prior posts about the dispute here and here), which now includes cross claims of patent infringement in multiple forums.

In the latest complaint (Gevo-Butamax_Complaint), filed in the District of Delaware on January 24, 2012, Gevo accuses Butamax of infringing U.S. Patent No. 8,101,808 (‘808 Patent) by performing certain isobutanol production processes.

The ‘808 Patent, granted on January 24, 2012, is entitled “Recovery of higher alcohols from dilute aqueous solutions” and directed to methods of recovering C3-C6 alcohols from a fermentation broth.

Interestingly, I believe the Gevo-Butamax litigation is the first instance of biofuels patent litigation involving one of the oil majors.

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.