Gevo Biofuel Opportunity

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted June 21, 2012

Gevo Inc. (NASDAQ:GEVO) scored a major victory in court on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson turned down the preliminary injunction requested by Butamax Advanced Biofuels in a patent case, in which Butamax accused Gevo of infringing on bio-isobutanol patents.

Tuesday’s ruling allows Gevo Inc. to sell its bio-isobutanol “in any market, to any customer, in any region.” Shares promptly rose around 40% during Wednesday morning trading.

The company produces its product, which offers promise as a biofuel replacement for ethanol, at an old ethanol plant in Luverne, Minn.

Butamax Advanced Biofuels (a joint venture between BP and DuPont) also makes bio-isobutanol, and Gevo got slapped with a patent infringement suit.

Gevo general counsel Brett Lund remarked:

“We are up against two of the biggest companies in our industry (BP and Dupont) and believe that Butamax’s failed motion and ongoing infringement claims are without merit and are merely attempts to derail Gevo’s progress.”

He further clarified:

“Gevo has consistently maintained that it does not infringe Butamax’s ‘889, ‘188 and ‘328 patents, because the Gevo-created NKR enzyme used in our engineered yeast strains uses NADH, and not NADPH, as an electron donor. NADH enables Gevo’s yeast strains to produce isobutanol at much greater efficiencies than strains using NADPH.”

According to the ruling, the enzymes in Butamax’s ‘889 patent are “explicitly defined as being exclusively NADPH-dependent.”

Butamax company spokeswoman Pam Schools announced that the company will appeal this decision. As CEO Paul Beckwith said:

“This is an early step in a long and complex litigation process. We remain highly confident in the ultimate outcome of this case and our other cases against Gevo.”

Gevo has not indicated plans to sell the fuel for commercial use. It is currently being produced for military purposes.

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