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September 21, 2012
11:22 EDTSYNMSyntroleum: U.S. Patent Office grants re-examination request
On September 14, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office issued an Order granting Syntroleum Corporation's August 17th request for inter partes reexamination of U.S. Patent No. 8,187,344 and also issued an Office Action rejecting all claims of the patent as obvious in view of the prior art. The '344 patent is the subject of a patent suit filed by Neste Oil Oyj against Syntroleum on May 29 in the District of Delaware. The '344 patent is related to and shares the same inventors as a prior Neste patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,279,018), and both are directed to a fuel composition for diesel engines. The PTO's recent Order is consistent with a prior finding on March 22 by the PTO's Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences affirming the Examiner's rejection of the '018 patent's claims because "the evidence of record as a whole supports the Examiner's conclusion that the fuel composition as claimed would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art ...". Neste declined to appeal this ruling and on July 31, the PTO issued a Reexamination Certificate canceling all claims of the '018 patent. Syntroleum's Answer to Neste's First Amended Complaint regarding the '344 patent is due on September 24th, and Syntroleum's Motion to Stay the district court action in view of the PTO reexamination proceedings is pending. Syntroleum has not infringed any of Neste's alleged patent rights and Syntroleum will continue to vigorously defend against the complaint's allegations. Syntroleum will also pursue invalidity of the '344 patent via the PTO reexamination proceedings, and is confident that its position will be vindicated.
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