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The top U.S. oilfield service provider Halliburton is challenging the world’s largest oil field service provider Schlumberger on a new turf these days—the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office—asking the agency to cancel some of Schlumberger’s fracking patents as they are just old ideas repackaged, Bloomberg reports, citing petitions that Halliburton has filed.
The companies are the two biggest oilfield service providers globally, with Halliburton historically stronger in the U.S. while Schlumberger is stronger on international markets.
As the oil prices increased at the end of last year, both companies expressed optimism about the global market for the first time in three years, but they have also been increasingly competing for market share on each other’s turf. Halliburton’s international revenue in Q4 grew 11 percent sequentially, while Schlumberger’s—albeit greater in value—increased by 2 percent. At the end of 2017, Schlumberger bought Weatherford International’s hydraulic fracturing business to step up its U.S. shale operations, challenging the top provider Halliburton.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has agreed since December to review the validity of six patents held by Schlumberger, after it had found that there was a “reasonable likelihood” that Halliburton could win its arguments, Bloomberg today. On one of the patents, Schlumberger has given up, while the board is reviewing Halliburton’s petitions on four other patents. The board is expected to make a final decision on the patents that are under review by the end of 2018, according to Bloomberg.
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Halliburton has challenged patents by Schlumberger about the use of fiber optic tools for monitoring interior well conditions, sensors to read temperatures across a broader area, and ways for more precise control over the fracking fluid.
In several of its petitions, Halliburton has said that Schlumberger patents were just “a classic situation where known elements are combined according to known methods to yield predictable results,” Bloomberg says.
While Halliburton is challenging some Schlumberger fracking-related patents, it has itself won 35 percent more patents in 2017 compared to 2016. Last year Halliburton received 738 patents, compared to 552 in 2016, according to patent data provider IFI CLAIMS Patent Services. Halliburton made it into the top 50 of the ‘2017 Top 50 US Patent Assignees’ list, moving up to no.44 from no.66 in 2016. Schlumberger, with 434 patents, was 86th.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.