A Unocal Corp. patent for cleaner gasoline was rejected in a preliminary review by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after protests from refiners such as ChevronTexaco Corp. that face millions in license fees.
Unocal claimed to have invented a type of gasoline blend, dubbed '393.
The formula easily could have been developed by reading a 1984 report on gasoline standards written by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the patent office said in a Jan. 31 "non-final rejection" that followed a preliminary review.
The patent office determined that Unocal "did not invent anything new or novel" in the gasoline blend, Valero Energy Corp. said. Unocal accused San Antonio-based Valero last month of infringing its fuel patents.
A Unocal spokesman confirmed the initial rejection in the government's review and said that Unocal expects that its patent "will be supported and borne out by the very documents that the other parties are using to support their argument."
On the NYSE, Unocal fell 46 cents to $34.91, Valero fell 94 cents to $44.06, and ChevronTexaco's fell 70 cents to $81.65.