GreenShift adds to list of companies it's suing

By Holly Jessen | April 15, 2010
Posted May 11, 2010

GS CleanTech Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of GreenShift Corp., is now suing 15 ethanol producers and two technology/manufacturing companies for allegedly infringing on its patented corn oil extraction technology. In addition, the company has filed a motion to transfer and consolidate all pending suits to one federal court.

In mid-February, GreenShift filed lawsuits in Indiana and Illinois against Cardinal Ethanol LLC and Big River LLC. It has now filed suit against 11 more ethanol plants in four additional states: Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Also being sued by GreenShift are ICM Inc. of Colwich, Kan., and GEA Westfalia Separator Inc. of Northvale, N.J. Those companies, GreenShift said, sold equipment that infringed on the company's patent.

The subject of all the complaints is GreenShift's patent for recovering corn oil by evaporating whole stillage. The company created and submitted the patent in May 2009. "There was no market for corn oil extraction from dry mill ethanol plants before we invented our now-patented technology in 2004," said Kevin Kreisler, GreenShift's chairman and CEO.

ICM, which manufactured and installed the oil extraction technology for Cardinal Ethanol LLC, Big River Resources Galva LLC and Big River Resources West Burlington LLC, said in February that it would defend the ethanol producers. The company is now saying it will also defend Lincolnland Agri-Energy LLC. Those four plants all purchased and utilize ICM's Tricanter Oil Separation System, the company told EPM. There are other facilities on the list of 15 ethanol plants that were designed and built by ICM but that don't utilize ICM oil extraction technology. The company will defend ethanol plants that have purchased ICM's Tricanter technology, a company spokesperson said.

In addition, ICM previously pointed out that it filled its own litigation in Kansas against GS Clean Tech and GreenShift Corp. in October 2009. "We have asserted that GS Clean Tech/GreenShift misrepresented the liability of ICM's customers for operating the ICM system," said Chris Mitchell, vice president of marketing for ICM, "and that various actions of GS Clean Tech/GreenShift constitute unfair competition and wrongful interference with ICM's existing and prospective business and contractual relationships."

GreenShift, on the other hand, has said that ICM previously argued that GreenShift's inventions were unpatentable and failed. That argument was raised by ICM before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted GreenShift's first two patents. The company also warns that it has a right to royalties for the corn oil extracted with GreenShift technology back as far as 2006, when the company got its first patent. "We have many millions of dollars and years of hard work invested into our patented corn oil extraction technologies and we are prepared to prosecute our rights for as long as may be needed," said David Winsness, GreenShift's chief technology officer. "That said, we would prefer not to litigate and we would much rather focus on win-win solutions—we have demonstrated that producers can make more money by working with us than without us."

The following are the 15 ethanol plants named in the GreenShift lawsuits.

1. Big River Resources West Burlington LLC, West Burlington, Ill.
2. Center Ethanol LLC, Sauget, Ill.
3. Lincolnland Agri-Energy LLC, Palestine, Ill.
4. Cardinal Ethanol LLC, Union City, Ind.
5. Iroquois BioEnergy Company LLC, Rensselear, Ind.
6. Amaizing Energy LLC, Denison, Iowa
7. Big River Resources Galva LLC, Galva, Iowa
8. Lincolnway Energy LLC, Nevada, Iowa
9. Al-Corn Clean Fuel LLC, Claremont, Minn.
10. Bushmills Ethanol Inc., Atwater, Minn.
11. Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. LLLP, Benson, Minn.
12. Heartland Corn Products LLC, Winthrop, Minn.
13. Blue Flint Ethanol LLC, Underwood, N.D.
14. ACE Ethanol LLC, Stanley, Wis.
15. United Wisconsin Grain Producers LLC, Friesland, Wis.