Court Upholds Chevron Win in Patent Case

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An appeals court last week upheld a decision by the United States Patent Trial and Appeals Board granting a petition by Chevron Oronite to invalidate a patent by Infineum USA for an ILSAC GF-3 engine oil formulation.

The decision could finally resolve a two decade old case begun when Infineum accused Oronite of violating its patent for the formulation, which was granted in 2002.

Infineum, a chemical additive supplying joint venture between ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, complained then that Oronite was violating its patent, referred to as the 685 patent, for engine oils meeting GF-3, which was introduced by the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee in 2001. GF-3 was declared obsolete three years later, meaning ILSAC stopped issuing licenses for oils that met its requirements, but it remained in use in countries around the world for years after.

In response to Infineum’s complaint, Oronite sought to invalidate Infineum’s patent, arguing that the innovations that it claimed did not clear a bar for obviousness based on information already in the public domain.

Following a long chain of hearings, the Patent Trial and Appeals Board eventually granted Oronite’s petition. Infineum appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which rendered its decision Jan. 21.

The latter case is in Infineum USA LP v. Chevron Oronite Company LLC, case number 20-1333.

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