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In the Matter of Union Oil Company of California
FTC Matter/File Number
Docket Number
Enforcement Type
Part 3 Administrative Complaints

Case Summary

An administrative law judge dismissed a complaint in its entirety against Union Oil of California that charged the company with committing fraud in connection with regulatory proceedings before the California Air Resources Board regarding the development of reformulated gasoline. The judge ruled much of Unocal’s conduct was permissible activity under the Noerr-Pennington doctrine and that the resolution of the issues outlined in the complaint would require an in depth analysis of patent law which he believed were not with the jurisdiction of the Commission. In July 2004, the Commission reversed the judge’s ruling and reinstated charges that Unocal illegally acquired monopoly power in the technology market for producing a “summer-time” low-emissions gasoline mandated for sale and use by the CARB for use in the state for up to eight months of the year. While the case was pending before the administrative law judge, Unocal agreed to settle the claims and cease and desist enforcing Unocal’s patents covering reformulated gasoline that complies with California Air resources Board Standard, will not undertake any new enforcement efforts related to the particular patents, and will cease all attempts to collect damages, royalties, or other payments related to the use of any of the patents.  The settlement in this case was related to the settlement of FTC charges that Chevron's acquisition of Unocal would substantially lessen competition in the refining and marketing of CARB reformulated gasoline, as Chevron would acquire the relevant Unocal patents through the acquisition and would be able to use its position to coordinate with its downstream competitors, to the detriment of consumers.  See In the Matter of Chevron Corporation and Unocal Corporation.

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