Clean Tech in Court: Green Patent Complaint Update

There have been several green patent complaints filed in the past several weeks in the fields of biofuels, home electrical control systems, battery chargers, and LEDs.



Butamax Advanced Biofuels, LLC v. Gevo, Inc.

On March 12, 2012, Butamax filed suit against Gevo in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, alleging infringement of one of its patents relating to the production of isobutanol with recombinant microorganisms. (Butamax-Gevo_Complaint_3-12-12).

The asserted patent is U.S. Patent No. 8,129,162, entitled “Ketol-Acid Reductoisomerase using NADH” (the ‘162 patent).  The ‘162 patent discloses certain recombinant mutant ketol-acid reductoisomerase enzymes, commonly called “KARI Enzymes”.  The KARI Enzymes disclosed in the ‘162 Patent function efficiently in microbial systems designed to produce isobutanol.

Butamax alleges Gevo is making and using KARI Enzymes disclosed in the ‘162 Patent.  Butamax is seeking a judgment that Gevo is infringing the ‘162 Patent, preliminary and permanent injunctions, and damages.

Gevo, Inc. v. Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC

On March 13, 2012, Gevo filed suit against Butamax in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware alleging Butamax infringed one of its patents related to the production of isobutanol.  This suit was filed the day after Butamax filed suit against Gevo, and on the same day Gevo’s patent issued and adds to the growing litigation between these advanced biofuels rivals (see previous posts here, here and here.

The asserted patent is U.S. Patent No. 8,133,715, entitled “Reduced By-Product Accumulation for Improved Production of Isobutanol” (the ‘715 Patent).  According to the complaint (Gevo-Butamax_Complaint), the ‘715 Patent describes “recombinant isobutanol-producing microorganisms containing a disruption in the expression or activity of an endogenous 3-keto acid reductase activity and methods for producing isobutanol using such organisms.”

Gevo’s complaint alleges Butamax makes infringing microorganisms to produce isobutanol through deletion or inactivation of the YMR226c gene.  Gevo claims Butamax describes its infringing process in PCT Publication No. WO/2011/159853, entitled “Recombinant Host Cells Comprising Phosphoketolases”.

Gevo is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions and damages.


Home Electrical Control Systems

Powerline Innovations, LLC v. Elk Products, Inc., et al.

Filed March 13, 2012 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, Powerline’s complaint (Powerline-Elk_Complaint) alleges defendants infringe U.S. Patent No. 5,471,190, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Resource Allocation in a Communication Network System” (the ‘190 Patent).

According to the complaint, each defendant is accused of infringing the ’190 Patent in products they sell “which employ methods for establishing control relationships between plural devices in a home electrical system covered by one or more claims of the ‘190 Patent to the injury of [Powerline].”


Battery Chargers

Voltstar Technologies, Inc. v. AT&T Operations, Inc, et. al.

Voltstar filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, alleging AT&T infringes two of its patents.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,910,833 entitled “Energy-Saving Power Adapter/Charger” (‘833 Patent), and 7,960,648 entitled “Energy Saving Cable Assemblies” (‘648 Patent).

The patents describe an energy saving battery charger that automatically shuts off when a device is fully charged or not plugged in, eliminating “vampire load”.  The charger is designed to reduce power consumption and extend battery life.

Voltstar is seeking a permanent injunction and damages.



GE Lighting Solutions, LLC v. AgiLight, Inc.

Filed on February, 13, 2012 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, GE’s complaint (GE-Agilight_Complaint) alleges AgiLight infringes four of its patents.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos.:

7,160,140 entitled “LED String Light Engine”

7,520,771 entitled “LED String Light Engine and Devices that are Illuminated by the String Light Engine”

7,633,055 entitled “Sealed Light Emitting Diode Assemblies Including Annular Gaskets and Method of Making Same”

7,832,896 entitled “LED Light Engine”

The patents relate to various components of LED string lights.  Some of the components GE asserts are infringing include overmolded wire housings, flexible electrical connectors, several annular gaskets, and dome shaped optical element covers for LED’s.

GE is seekeing injuntive relief and damages.

Koninklinjke Phillips Electronics N.V. et al. v. Nexxus Lighting, Inc.

Phillips filed a complaint (Philips-Nexxus_Complaint) in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts on March 26, 2012, alleging Nexxus infringed six of its patents.

The asserted patents are U.S. Patent Nos.:

6,013,988 entitled “Circuit Arrangement and Signalling Light Provided With the Circuit Arrangement”;

6,250,774 entitled “Luminaire”;

7,038,399 entitled “Methods and Apparatus for Providing Power to Lighting Devices”;

7,358,679 entitled “Dimmable LED-Based MR16 Lighting Apparatus and Methods”;

7,737,643 entitled “LED Power Control Methods and Apparatus”; and

7,802,902 entitled “LED Lighting Fixtures”

The accused products are Nexxus’ PAR 30, PAR38, R30, MR16, MR16-HO, R16-GU10 products.  Phillips is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions and damages.

David Gibbs is a contributor to Green Patent Blog.  David is currently in his third and final year at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.  He received his undergraduate degree in Geology from the University of California, Berkeley.

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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.