Fracking technology firm’s patent infringement claim denied by appeal court

CALGARY — A fracking technology firm has been handed another setback in its attempt to defend its patent on a commonly used well completion technique.

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed a filing by Packers Plus Energy Services Inc. asking it to overturn a December 2017 decision that declared invalid its patent for the “ball-drop” technology that helped usher in the current shale oil and gas boom in North America.

In the 2017 decision, the judge ruled that Packers’ patent wasn’t valid because it was an “obvious” improvement on existing techniques and had been publicly disclosed before the patent application was filed.

The appeal court said in its decision this week it found no reason to set aside the “obviousness analysis.”

Packers’ system, patented in Canada in November 2002, is used to control and separate high-pressure injections of liquids and sand used to break up tight underground rock and free the oil and gas to be produced from horizontal wells, a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Packers had named competitors including Houston-based Weatherford International and Baker Hughes, along with producer Harvest Operations Corp. and service firms Essential Energy Services and Resource Well Completion Technologies Inc. of Calgary, in its appeal.

“This is tremendous news for Essential,” Essential Energy Services CEO Garnet Amundson said in a statement.

“We have spent five and a half years fighting this battle and are pleased with the appeal court’s ruling. The decision upholds our stated position all along that the action was without merit.”

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