Butamax files second patent infringement case against Gevo

By Holly Jessen | August 11, 2011

Two advanced biofuels companies working toward commercial-scale production of biobutanol or isobutanol will battle it out in the courts. Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC announced Aug. 9 it was filing a second patent infringement case against Gevo Inc.

The lawsuit is for infringement on a Butamax patent on the company’s foundational methods for production of low-cost biobutanol. The first patent infringement case was filed in January 2011. “Butamax is committed to protecting its technology and ensuring maximum value for its customers and licensees,” said Christine Lhulier, vice president and general counsel for Butamax. “We pioneered fermentative production of isobutanol and violation of our intellectual property rights is unacceptable.”

On Aug. 11 Gevo shot back that it believed the case was without merit. The company will continue to “aggressively defend its freedom to operate,” it said. "We are the leaders in the technology and commercialization of low-cost isobutanol,” said Pat Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “Unfortunately, lawsuits like this are typical disputes that leaders face. We will vigorously challenge these patents and Butamax's infringement allegations. We believe that these disputes will eventually reveal the superiority of Gevo's innovations in this field. We will continue to lead, keeping the focus on the production of low-cost isobutanol, deploying our technology, and securing additional off-take agreements."

Butamax is a joint venture by BP and DuPont. The company is poised for commercial launch from 2012-’13 it said. Gevo is working to convert existing ethanol plants to biorefineries producing isobutanol. The company is currently working on a retrofit of Agri-Energy LLC, a 22 MMgy ethanol plant located in Luverne, Minn., and has announced a joint venture with Redfield Energy LLC, a 50 MMgy ethanol plant in Redfield, S.D.