Western Research Institute has prevailed in a major intellectual property (IP) dispute against Chevron in the US Federal Circuit Court in Washington, DC on November 4, 2020
Western Research Institute (WRI), a nonprofit entity with headquarters in Laramie, WY has prevailed in a major intellectual property (IP) dispute against Chevron in the US Federal Circuit Court in Washington, DC on November 4, 2020. As a result of the appeals court ruling, the Patent Office’s validation on May 4, 2021 of US patent 10,994,252, Methods for Estimating a Property of a Hydrocarbon, was also validated for WRI by the US Federal Circuit.
Several improvements, other related methods and uses or applications based on the novel technique, have also been developed and patented by WRI in prior years. These involve the rapid evaluation of the amount and solubility characteristics of the most problematic and refractory components of oils, called asphaltenes, by measuring solubility properties using minimal amounts (milligram levels) of sample. These are currently being used commercially worldwide to select optimal feedstocks and to monitor and control refinery processes, resulting in significant increases in profitability, improved efficiency, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. They also can provide a rapid indication of the degree of aging due to oxidation in materials such as paving and roofing asphalt materials. Many other uses and variations of the technique continue to be developed and implemented. With the long-standing dispute of the ownership of the fundamental technology finally resolved in court, WRI stands to benefit significantly from the commercial use of this technology.