Federal Court judge finds Packers Plus fracking technology patent is invalid

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CALGARY — A Canadian court is declaring invalid the patent for a fracking technology held by Calgary-based Packers Plus Energy Services Inc.

The Federal Court of Canada says the company’s patent granted in 2002 isn’t valid because it was an “obvious” improvement on existing systems which had been publicly disclosed before the patent application was filed. 

The decision has sweeping implications for the oil and gas industry because variations of the technology are used to free oil and gas from tight underground shale rock formations in resource plays from Texas to northeastern B.C. and around the world.

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Judge James O’Reilly struck down patent infringement lawsuits filed by Packers Plus against defendants including Houston-based Weatherford and Baker Hughes, along with producer Harvest Operations and service firms Essential Energy Services Ltd. and Resource Well Completion Technologies Inc. of Calgary.

Packers CEO Dan Themig did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an interview two years ago, he said his company had pioneered the system and invested tens of millions of dollars in the technology.

Packers’ system is used to control and separate high-pressure injections of liquid and sand used to break up tight underground rock in horizontal wells and free the oil and gas to be produced, a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

The Canadian Press

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