Supreme Court rules in Gevo's favor, remands case to lower court

By Gevo Inc. | January 27, 2015

Gevo Inc. has announced that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its favor and overturned an earlier Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the interpretation of key patent claims. The result is that Gevo's victory in the Delaware District Court is reinstated, and that the case has been remanded back to the Appeals Court for consideration in light of the new standard of appellate review that was decided in the Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., v. Sandoz Inc. (Teva) case last week. In Teva, the Supreme Court ruled that the Appeals Court must apply a more stringent "clear error" standard of review, rather than a "de novo" standard of review. In Gevo's case, the Appeals Court must now apply the "clear error" standard of review and cannot set aside the Delaware District Court's findings of fact in Gevo's favor (including interpretation of patent claims) unless they were clearly erroneous.

The Supreme Court's decision effectively reinstates Gevo's victory at the District Court where a final judgment of non-infringement was entered in Gevo's favor following the acknowledgment by Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC that Gevo does not infringe Butamax's Patent Nos. 7,851,188 and 7,993,889.

On April 11, 2013, the Delaware District Court entered a final judgment of non-infringement in Gevo's favor following the acknowledgment by Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC that Gevo does not infringe Butamax's asserted patents under the District Court's construction of a key claim term in Butamax's Patent Nos. 7,851,188 and 7,993,889.

Butamax appealed Gevo's victory in the District Court to the Appeals Court. On Feb. 18, 2014, the Appeals Court offered a new interpretation of a disputed claim term, vacated the District Court's prior rulings, and ordered the District Court to reconsider issues related to infringement and invalidity.

Gevo petitioned the Supreme Court to vacate the Appeals Court's interpretation of a disputed claim term. On Jan. 27, the Supreme Court granted Gevo's petition and vacated the decision of the Appeals Court. With this victory at the Supreme Court, there is no higher court in the United States for Butamax to appeal this decision.