Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

U.S. Water Services, Inc. v. Novozymes A/S

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

May 25, 2018

U.S. WATER SERVICES, INC. and ROY JOHNSON, Plaintiffs,
v.
NOVOZYMES A/S and NOVOZYMES NORTH AMERICA, INC., Defendants.

          OPINION & ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs U.S. Water Services, Inc. and Roy Johnson sued defendants Novozymes A/S and Novozymes North America, Inc. for infringing U.S. Patents Nos. 8, 415, 137 and 8, 609, 399, two patents that disclose methods for using the enzyme phytase to reduce phytic acid deposits on equipment used in fuel ethanol production. (Consistent with its practice throughout this lawsuit, the court will refer to plaintiffs as “U.S. Water” and defendants as “Novozymes.”) A jury found in U.S. Water's favor on all asserted claims, Dkt. 800, and awarded approximately $7.5 million in damages, Dkt. 812. The court entered judgment on the verdict a few days later. Dkt. 831.

         Both sides have filed post-trial motions. U.S. Water seeks a permanent injunction, an “enhanced royalty, ” supplemental damages, prejudgment interest, and post-judgment interest. Dkt. 839 and Dkt. 843. Novozymes seeks judgment as a matter of law on infringement, invalidity, and damages, and, in the alternative, seeks a new trial. Dkt. 846; Dkt. 847; Dkt. 849. Novozymes has also filed a motion to strike one of U.S. Water's reply briefs and to seal some of its filings. Dkt. 848 and Dkt. 892. The court will grant the motion to seal.

         As for the remaining motions, it is only necessary to consider one of them, which is Novozymes's motion for judgment as a matter of law on the ground that the asserted claims are invalid. The court rejects Novozymes's arguments regarding obviousness, but the court concludes that the jury's verdict that the patents-in-suit are not anticipated by the Veit patent application is not supported by a reasonable view of the evidence. U.S. Water adduced evidence at trial that the addition of phytase to ethanol processing fluid would not necessarily reduce deposits under all possible conditions. But the trial evidence showed the addition of phytase under conditions disclosed in Veit would hydrolyze all the available phytic acid so that there would be no phytic acid available to form deposits. Thus, although Veit says nothing about reducing deposits, deposit reduction is an inherent result of the use of phytase as disclosed in Veit. Because the conditions disclosed in Veit satisfy all the elements of the asserted claims, those claims are anticipated. The court will grant Novozymes's motion and enter judgment in Novozymes's favor. All other pending motions are moot.

         BACKGROUND

         The background to this case is set out in detail in this court's summary judgment decision, Dkt. 561, and the Court of Appeals decision, U.S. Water Servs., Inc. v. Novozymes A/S, 843 F.3d 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2016), so there is no need to repeat it in detail here.

         The '137 patent and the '399 patent share a common specification and disclose methods for using an enzyme called phytase to reduce the formation of deposits of phytic acid and phytates (metallic salts of phytic acid) during ethanol production. Fouling by such deposits impedes heat transfer and fluid flow, thus decreasing the efficiency of ethanol processing equipment. Historical solutions to the fouling problem include physical cleaning of the equipment and reducing the pH of the processing fluid by adding sulfuric acid. The enzyme phytase hydrolyzes (which is to say breaks down) phytic acid and its salts, and the resulting components are soluble in the processing fluid and do not form deposits.

         U.S. Water sells a phytase-based product called pHytOUT to reduce phytate fouling on fuel ethanol production equipment. Novozymes sells a competing phytase-based product called Phytaflow, which is the accused product in the case.

         U.S. Water asserts claims 1, 6, and 12 of the '137 patent and claims 1, 2, 5, 7-9, 16, and 18-20 of the '399 patent. Claim 1 of the '137 patent is an illustrative independent claim:

1. A method of reducing formation of insoluble deposits of phytic acid or salts of phytic acid on surfaces in a fuel ethanol-processing equipment, the method comprising:
adding phytase to an ethanol processing fluid in the equipment containing phytic acid or salts of phytic acid under conditions suitable for converting the insoluble phytic acid or phytic acid salts to soluble products;
thereby reducing the formation of deposits of insoluble phytic acid or phytic acid salts on surfaces in the equipment;
wherein the equipment in which deposit formation is reduced comprises a beer column, and wherein the pH of the ethanol processing fluid in the beer column is 4.5 or ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.