Oil Services Patent Wars
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In the recent patent infringement case between Ion Geophysical Corp. (IO) and WesternGeco, a subsidiary of Schlumberger (SLB), a federal jury found that Ion Geophysical had provided services that copied the ones provided by WesternGeco, thereby infringing on Schlumberger's patents on four counts and netting WesternGeco $105.9 million in damages. It was an important victory for Schlumberger as the organization prides itself on investing around $1 billion in R&D each year.
The service in question was provided through Ion's DigiFin, which captures underwater images to determine the likelihood of any oil and gas exploration opportunities. However, the product itself, i.e. DigiFin, will remain available for sale. Following the verdict, Ion's shares dropped by almost 16%.
DigiFin was not Ion's major product and accounted for only 3% of its revenues. Ion, whose $1 billion market cap just over 1% of that of Schlumberger, will try and fight the verdict. The jury decided that Ion had deliberately infringed on Schlumberger's patents, which means that the energy giant can appeal for a further increase in damages. With the humble amount of cash Ion has, roughly around $83 million, it will be difficult to fight against Schlumberger and for a product that ultimately is not core to their current business, but will force them to reassess their longer-term strategies. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE