Watching Government: Patent worries

US refiners are concerned that a recent Unocal Corp. patent case could exacerbate tight gasoline supplies this summer.A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court's jury decision that gave Unocal a 5.75¢/gal royalty on its California reformulated gasoline (RFG).The jury awarded Unocal $91 million for patent infringement by five companies during a 5-month period in 1996 (OGJ, Apr. 3, 2000, Newsletter). Actual liabilities will be much higher than that. The companies are ARCO, Chevron USA Inc., ExxonMobil Corp., Shell Oil Products Co., and Texaco Refining & Marketing Inc.Unocal said its 1994 patent may apply to a second phase of RFG formulation throughout the US. Other refiners...

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