Halliburton says patent ruling derails U.S. Well lawsuit over fracking technology

The company logo of Halliburton oilfield services corporate offices is seen in Houston
The company logo of Halliburton oilfield services corporate offices is seen in Houston, Texas April 6, 2012. REUTERS/Richard Carson/File Photo
  • U.S. Patent Office declared U.S. Well patents invalid
  • Lawsuit and countersuit currently set for March trial

(Reuters) - Halliburton Co has convinced a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office tribunal to invalidate three electric-fracking patents that oilfield service company U.S. Well Services Inc accused it of infringing, according to a filing in West Texas federal court.

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that the patents--the only ones still remaining in the lawsuit--were invalid based on preexisting inventions, Halliburton told the court Wednesday.

The board also denied U.S. Well's requests to review the validity of four fracking patents that Halliburton had challenged in a countersuit.

Representatives for U.S. Well's parent company ProFrac Holding Corp did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. Oilfield services company ProFrac bought Houston-based U.S. Well last year.

Halliburton's executive vice president and chief legal officer Van Beckwith said Thursday that the company has been "patenting oilfield technology for over 100 years," and that it "immediately realized" the U.S. Well patents were invalid.

U.S. Well can appeal the board's invalidity rulings to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The West Texas court invalidated the relevant parts of four other U.S. Well patents at issue in the case last year.

A trial is currently set to begin in Waco, Texas, on March 27.

U.S. Well sued Houston-based Halliburton in 2021 for allegedly violating seven patents related to electric fracking, which uses electricity instead of diesel fuel to drive pumps. The lawsuit said Halliburton's all-electric fracking fleet violates the patents.

Halliburton countered later that year with allegations that U.S. Well infringes its own fracking patents. Halliburton also filed two separate patent lawsuits against U.S. Well in Waco last year that are still ongoing.

Both companies have asked for an unspecified amount of money damages.

The case is U.S. Well Services Inc v. Halliburton Co, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, No. 6:21-cv-00367.

For U.S. Well: Tom Melsheimer and Rex Mann of Winston & Strawn

For Halliburton: Roger Fulghum, Michael Hawes and Susan Kennedy of Baker Botts; David Genender, David Tobin and Syed Fareed of McDermott Will & Emery

Read more:

U.S. Well Services files e-frac patent lawsuit against Halliburton, Cimarex Energy

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He has previously written for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced as an attorney. Contact: 12029385713