UF, BP settle long-running dispute, though impact to university remains unclear

 

A partnership with British Petroleum that should have produced a stream of royalty revenues for the University of Florida for years has evaporated with the stroke of a pen, settling a two-year court battle over $30 million in disputed fees and royalties.

The two sides in the intellectual property suit that BP brought against UF quietly reached a settlement agreement over the disputed licensing fees and royalties for a process invented by UF researcher Lonnie Ingram that converts wood pulp into ethanol.

A federal judge dismissed the suit in December, reserving the right to bring both sides into a courtroom if they don’t live up to the terms of the binding settlement agreement.

Neither side ever issued a statement about the settlement at the time, and the details of the agreement have not been released, nor are they likely to ever be made public — which makes it difficult to assess what UF, and the public, lost or gained.

“The settlement agreement is not public,” said Janine Sikes, assistant vice president of media relations for UF. “They entered a licensing agreement, had a dispute and settled in lieu of further litigation.”

Questions about whether UF received any compensation were not answered.

“We got all the intellectual rights and patents back,” said David Day, director the Office of Technology Licensing at UF. “We believe this is a great technology, and we are going forward trying to commercialize it.”

John Byatt, assistant director of technology licensing, said other companies have shown an interesting in licensing the technology. “It requires a large investment in capital,” Byatt said. “It is complex to try and find a good partner that has the ability to commercialize the technology.”

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