GS CleanTech Corp. v. Adkins Energy LLC, No. 16-2231 (Fed. Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Patents-in-Suit are directed to the recovery of oil from a dry mill ethanol plant’s byproduct, thin stillage, for example, “evaporating the thin stillage to form a concentrate,” or syrup, and then “separating the oil from the concentrate using a disk stack centrifuge.” In an infringement suit, the district court determined that specified claims were invalid because of the on-sale bar, anticipation, obviousness, incorrect inventorship, inadequate written description, lack of enablement, and indefiniteness. The court concluded that, under the UCC, a signed proposal would have constituted a commercial contract and that a reasonable jury would not have concluded that the proposal was an offer to test its claimed invention as the Inventors knew the method could be successfully reduced to practice and had been reduced to practice. After an inequitable conduct bench trial, the court concluded that the patents were ready for patenting when the Inventors provided the 2003 Proposal and that CleanTech committed inequitable conduct: The "Inventors made a mistake” by offering the invention for sale in 2003, and later affirmatively hid that fact from the lawyers and the Patent Office. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that CleanTech and its lawyers made a deliberate decision to withhold material information with the specific intent to deceive the Patent Office.