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Federal jury awards Unocal 5.75 cents a gallon in gasoline patent suit

November 3, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A federal jury ordered six major competitors to pay Unocal Corp. a royalty of 5.75 cents per gallon on gasoline that was refined and sold in violation of Unocal’s patent for cleaner burning fuel.

The royalty, which would apply to nearly 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline marketed during five months of 1996, would work out to about $69 million, according to Unocal.

Jurors reached the verdict on Thursday, but the decision was sealed until Monday because U.S. District Court Judge Kim Wardlow was out of town.

The defendants in the suit are Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Atlantic Richfield Co., Exxon Corp., Mobil Corp., Shell Oil Co. and Texaco Refining & Marketing Inc.

In a final phase of the trial, the jury will hear arguments on whether the patent is enforceable. The defendants have asked that it be ruled unenforceable, alleging that Unocal withheld information while the patent was pending from 1990 to 1994, said John Diaz, an attorney for the defendant companies. That phase is scheduled to begin Dec. 2

If the jury again rules in Unocal’s favor, the company could collect the past damages and negotiate a continuing royalty on future use of its patent, attorneys said.

Unocal sought a royalty of 5 cents to 7.5 cents per gallon refined under its formula, one of several recipes for producing gasoline that meets California’s strict requirements for low emissions. The defendants recommended a royalty of .2 cent per gallon.

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