Patent infringement cases consolidated

By Holly Jessen | July 15, 2010
Posted Aug. 19, 2010

Fourteen ethanol plants and two technology/manufacturing companies named in a patent infringement lawsuit will have their cases tried in the Southern District of Indiana after a U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled that the cases will be consolidated.

GreenShift Corp. and its subsidiary, GS CleanTech Corp., are suing ethanol plants in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota for allegedly infringing on its patented corn oil extraction technology. Also being sued are ICM Inc. of Colwich, Kan., and GEA Westfalia Separator Inc. of Northvale, N.J. Those companies, GreenShift said, sold equipment that infringed on the company's patent.

GreenShift announced Aug. 17 that it has settled the lawsuit with one ethanol plant, Center Ethanol LLC of Sauget, Ill. The company entered into a license agreement for use of GreenShift's patented corn oil extraction process. "We have been working with GreenShift for a very short time, but thus far we are impressed with their professionalism and knowledge of their corn oil extraction process," said Barry Frazier, president of Center Ethanol.

ICM previously announced it was defending Cardinal Ethanol LLC, Big River Resources Galva LLC, Big River Resources West Burlington LLC and Lincolnland Agri-Energy LLC, which all purchased and utilize ICM's Tricanter Oil Separation System. In addition, the company filed its own litigation in Kansas against GS Clean Tech and GreenShift Corp. in October 2009, asserting that GreenShift's actions constitute unfair competition and wrongful interference with ICM's business relationships.

The consolidated cases will appear before a single judge, Larry McKinney, which will ensure that "the common parties and witnesses are not subjected to discovery demands that duplicate activity that will or has occurred in other actions," according to court documents.

The following are the 14 ethanol plants named in the GreenShift lawsuits.

1. Big River Resources West Burlington LLC, West Burlington, Ill.
2. Lincolnland Agri-Energy LLC, Palestine, Ill.
3. Cardinal Ethanol LLC, Union City, Ind.
4. Iroquois BioEnergy Company LLC, Rensselear, Ind.
5. Amaizing Energy LLC, Denison, Iowa
6. Big River Resources Galva LLC, Galva, Iowa
7. Lincolnway Energy LLC, Nevada, Iowa
8. Al-Corn Clean Fuel LLC, Claremont, Minn.
9. Bushmills Ethanol Inc., Atwater, Minn.
10. Chippewa Valley Ethanol Co. LLLP, Benson, Minn.
11. Heartland Corn Products LLC, Winthrop, Minn.
12. Blue Flint Ethanol LLC, Underwood, N.D.
13. ACE Ethanol LLC, Stanley, Wis.
14. United Wisconsin Grain Producers LLC, Friesland, Wis.