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Monopoly power hasn’t come easily for the Union Oil Company of California (Unocal). In a complaint this March, the Federal Trade Commission challenged patents held by the El Segundo, California�based producer and refiner of petroleum products. This is the second such suit filed against Unocal in the last decade. In its suit, the FTC accuses Unocal of scheming for licensing fees by fraudulently concealing several of its pending patents in the early nineties, when it was helping the California Air Resources Board adopt new emissions regulations. During the board’s rule-making proceedings, the FTC says, Unocal offered the board what it claimed was nonproprietary emissions research � when, in fact, the oil company had patents pending on discoveries based on the test results it had presented to the board. In 1995 six major oil companies, including BP p.l.c. and Exxon Mobil Corporation, challenged the validity of a Unocal patent on certain discoveries resulting from the company’s gasoline emissions research (because those competitors could not meet California guidelines without the Unocal research). The federal district court in Los Angeles sided with Unocal in that case, affirming the oil giant’s patent and its right to collect licensing fees from its competitors. Now that the board has adopted standards based on Unocal’s research and determinations on the licensing fees are close at hand, the FTC has filed suit to prevent Unocal from cashing in on its patent. If Unocal’s patents go unchecked, the FTC says, oil companies will likely offset the cost of those licensing fees by charging consumers more at the gas pumps. For plaintiff Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Competition (Washington, D.C.) In-house: Senior litigation counsel J. Robert Robertson and attorneys Peggy Bayer, David Conn, Lisa Fialco, Chul Pak, Chong Park, John Roberti, and Harry Schwirck. For Defendant UNOCAL (El Segundo, California) In-house: Chief legal officer Charles Strathman. Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi (Minneapolis): David Beehler, Martin Lueck, Sara Poulos, and associates Ricardo Egozcue, Ethan Glass, Bethany Krueger, Diane Simerson, Sonja Skogerboe, and Steven Uhr. Lueck represented Unocal in the 1995 suit brought by the six major oil refiners. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher (Los Angeles): Joseph Kattan and associate John Wood. (Both are in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.) Kattan was retained for his expertise in IP and antitrust matters. OUTLOOK A hearing is scheduled for November 13.

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