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Unocal to Sell Licenses for Patented Gasoline

March 30, 2001|Bloomberg News

Unocal Corp. said that it will sell a uniform license to oil refiners that want to produce cleaner-burning gasoline based on its patents, but that only companies that had not challenged the patents in court will get them. The licenses will add less than a penny a gallon to the cost of reformulated gasoline, a spokesman said. Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Chevron Corp. are among companies that had sued over the patents. The U.S. Supreme Court last month let Unocal's patents stand, allowing the company to keep $91 million in damages paid by refiners. The patents cover gasoline that meets standards set by California and federal regulators. The licensees will pay El Segundo-based Unocal 1.2 cents to 3.4 cents a gallon, depending on how much they produce, the company said. Unocal received its first patent for cleaner-burning gasoline in 1994 and four more between 1997 and last year. In January 1995, Unocal announced its patent and offered to negotiate licenses. That April, Unocal's biggest rivals sued in Los Angeles, contending the patent was invalid. Unocal filed a counterclaim, and a jury awarded it damages. A federal appeals court upheld the decision a year ago. Others that sued were Texaco Inc. and Atlantic Richfield Co., which BP Amoco bought last year. Unocal shares fell 69 cents to close at $33.68 on the NYSE.

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