The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Exxon Mobil suspended from the Climate Leadership Council, following secret Greenpeace recording

Exxon suspended from climate change group

ExxonMobil was suspended from the Climate Leadership Council, a centrist research and advocacy group that unites conservation groups and some of the world’s biggest corporations in forming policies to tackle climate change.

The move comes just weeks after an Exxon lobbyist was secretly recorded by Greenpeace saying some of the company’s key climate commitments were disingenuous. The group’s founding members include BP, ConocoPhillips, Goldman Sachs Group, Microsoft and Conservation International.

Exxon CEO Darren Woods quickly apologized for the lobbyist’s comments, which included claims that the oil giant worked with “shadow groups” to undermine climate science. After an activist investor won a key boardroom battle earlier this year that diluted Woods’s influence over directors, the company is under intense investor pressure to bolster emission-reduction efforts.

“CLC’s decision is disappointing and counterproductive,” Exxon spokesman Casey Norton said in an email. “It will in no way deter our efforts to advance carbon pricing that we believe is a critical policy requirement to tackle climate change.”

Exxon is considering “more aggressive objectives” on emissions, Woods said last month, citing input from its new directors. The company is considering a target to zero out carbon emissions from its own operations, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

— Bloomberg News

Judge throws out verdict against Apple

Apple won a ruling that will toss out a $308.5 million patent-infringement verdict after a federal judge said the iPhone maker was the victim of a company’s plan to milk the tech industry for high royalties on old ideas.

Personalized Media Communications’ patent for digital rights management is unenforceable because the company intentionally delayed its application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office so it could get more money later, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap in Texas ruled.

Officials with Apple and lawyers for Personalized Media did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Personalized Media’s patent application dates back to ones filed in the 1980s, when the term of a patent would last 17 years, no matter how long the application process took. While the company filed hundreds of applications in the late 1980s and 1990s, no patents were awarded until 2010 — and 101 have been issued since then.

Gilstrap relied on a June ruling from the nation’s top patent court that made it easier to challenge so-called submarine patents, where applicants would delay issuance of a patent until after an industry had adopted the technology and infringement suits would be more profitable. Since 1995, patent terms last for 20 years from the date of application, making the submarining strategy impractical.

The company pursued a strategy to ensure this and other patents wouldn’t be issued until “infringement becomes widespread in an industry,” according to internal documents cited by the judge. Apple, a 1991 document showed, would be one of the “natural candidates” for such a program, along with Intel, IBM and Microsoft.

— Bloomberg News

France's wine production could drop by as much as 30 percent this year to its lowest level in decades after vineyards were hit by spring frosts and summer downpours, its farm ministry said. The weather toll on the harvest could bring further headaches for a French wine sector that has seen demand dented over the past year by the coronavirus pandemic and U.S. tariffs. Champagne producers have warned their harvest potential has been cut by about half due to severe spring frosts followed by torrential summer rain that caused mildew fungus.

— From news services