Thursday, July 08, 2004

FTC case against Unocal revived

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission reversed an ALJ and thereby revived civil charges that Unocal Corp. tricked California state regulators into adopting a standard for clean-burning gasoline so it could enforce a patent against competitors.

The agency overturned an administrative law judge's November, 2003 dismissal of a complaint based on accusations by Exxon Mobil Corp. that Unocal deceived California regulators (by, among other things, neglecting to mention its patent interests) while the state was setting up clean-air standards. The El Segundo, Calif.-based company could collect as much as $150 million a year in royalties for use of its fuel-making methods.

The FTC complaint accuses Unocal of duping regulators into thinking that certain information about low-emission gasoline was in the public domain even as it pursued patents for the technology.

"The bottom line is there is no finding of fact by this commission," Unocal spokesman Barry Lane said.

"We have never been afraid of a trial in this matter, and ultimately we expect to prevail in this venue as we have in every other venue."


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