BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) _ A trademark for canola-based biodiesel fuel that was the subject of an awkward industry tug of war a year ago is seldom seen because few U.S. retailers are selling the fuel.
The Northern Canola Growers Association landed the Biola trademark last fall. The group had invested about $4,500 in a logo and planned to make it available for free to any U.S. canola biodiesel marketer who met product quality specifications.
Association director Barry Coleman said this week that no one is using the logo, which includes the words "Biola Fuels," a drop of oil, and a phrase about canola biodiesel being the fuel of the future. He said the demand for canola oil by the food industry has pushed up the price.
"We probably aren't going to have much demand for canola biodiesel in the foreseeable future," Coleman said. "It just priced itself out of the market."
Canola oil is widely used in cooking and is considered healthier than many other edible oils.
"We typically had a 3- to 4-cent per pound premium over soybean oil. That's been in the 12- to 13-cent range now," Coleman said.
It takes nearly $5 worth of canola oil to make one gallon of biodiesel, a mixture of diesel fuel and vegetable oil used as an alternative to petroleum-based fuels.
About 80 percent of the biodiesel produced in the United States is made from soybean oil, said Amber Thurlo Pearson, a spokeswoman for the National Biodiesel Board. The remaining 20 percent is a conglomeration of such feedstocks as canola, recycled cooking oil and animal fats, she said.
One producer of canola biodiesel said much of the fuel is exported to Europe because producers get not only the $1-per-gallon U.S. biodiesel tax break but also a European subsidy. Pearson said it is not possible to say how much canola-based biodiesel is going overseas because the federal government does not track biodiesel production, as it does with ethanol.
The Biola trademark became an issue last year when both the Northern Canola Growers Association and the Canola Council of Canada applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The Canadian group applied first, but the issue became muddled when the American group said it mistakenly thought its application had been submitted earlier when it publicly unveiled the Biola name in late 2006.
The groups said the dual applications stemmed from miscommunication and not competition, and the Canadian group later abandoned its effort. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registered the trademark to the Northern Canola Growers on Oct. 16, 2007.
Coleman said it is frustrating that the trademark is not in use, but he hasn't lost hope.
"It may be … something we can use in the next year or two, if the feedstock prices come back down," he said.
Manning Feraci, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Biodiesel Board, said there is a larger demand for biodiesel in Europe, but the industry expects that to change. A new federal mandate in the U.S. calls for the use of 500 million gallons next year, gradually increasing to 1 billion gallons by 2012.
"As a result, we anticipate that the vast majority of U.S. production will stay in the U.S. to meet these new renewable requirements," Feraci said.
On the Net:
Northern Canola Growers: www.northerncanola.com
National Biodiesel Board: www.biodiesel.org
Canola Council of Canada: www.canola-council.org
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: www.uspto.gov
ST. PAUL (AP) _ Minnesota farmers are divided on a proposal to adopt the so-called California clean car law.
The bill would require new cars and trucks registered in Minnesota to meet emissions standards set by the California Air Resources Board, beginning in 2012.
Bruce Stockman, executive director of the Minnesota Corn Growers, argues that the California rules won't increase the use of ethanol in Minnesota, and won't be much better at protecting the environment.
But his counterpart at the Minnesota Farmers Union, Doug Peterson, supports the California rule already adopted by a dozen states. He notes that lawmakers have amended the bill to increase demand for E-85, a blend containing 85 percent ethanol.
State Rep. Melissa Hortman says auto makers could meet the standard by selling more flex fuel.
The bill is scheduled for a final committee hearing in the Minnesota House next week.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.