A U.S. judge who ruled that Gevo Inc. didn't infringe on another company's patent on Friday said the biofuel maker can't sell the output of its new Minnesota plant in the automotive market pending an appeal.
Butamax Advanced Biofuels, a joint venture of DuPont Co. and BP Plc, sued Gevo in 2011 alleging misuse of technology for genetically engineered microorganisms used to produce isobutanol, which, like its chemical cousin ethanol, is distilled from corn.
U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson last month denied Butamax's bid to block sales by Gevo, whose first plant in Luverne, Minn., was completed in May. Butamax has appealed that order.
"While the court concluded" that Butamax "doesn't hold a valid patent" and Gevo doesn't infringe, "the court readily acknowledges that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit could disagree," Robinson wrote in an order Friday staying her earlier ruling and asking for an expedited appeal.
Gevo, based in Englewood, Colo., is involved in six patent lawsuits with Wilmington-based Butamax. Each alleges infringement by the other.
Gevo has said its initial output of isobutanol will be sold to a chemical manufacturer to produce other chemicals and to the U.S. military for testing as jet fuel. Butamax has said it is focused on the automotive fuel market, though Gevo also has said it eventually intends to sell isobutanol as a motor fuel additive as well.
STAFF AND WIRE REPORT