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ITC rules Umicore infringed on BASF and Argonne National patents

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

In an initial patent dispute determination issued 29 February, Judge Thomas B. Pender of the International Trade Commission (ITC) has confirmed that Umicore infringed on BASF and Argonne National Laboratory's patents covering nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) cathode materials by importing their material into the US. In addition, the judge found that the use by others of Umicore's NMC cathode materials in electrochemical cells or batteries in the US infringes the BASF and Argonne patents. Furthermore, the Judge rejected Umicore's arguments that the patents are invalid and unenforceable.

"We are very pleased with Judge Pender's determination, which provides a clear confirmation that our competitor's commercial products infringe BASF and Argonne's patented technology," said Kenneth Lane, President of BASF's global catalysts division. "Judge Pender clearly understood the significance of our patented technology, which is core to the development of advanced lithium-ion batteries, and Umicore's attempt to compete unfairly in the marketplace."

BASF and Argonne proved that Umicore's commercial cathode powders infringe 14 different claims of their NMC cathode patents. The extensive evidence of Umicore's infringement was confirmed by scientific testing of transmission electron microscopy, synchrotron x-ray diffraction, and inductively coupled plasma analysis.

"Argonne National Laboratory is an innovator in energy storage research and our NMC cathode technology is just one of a growing number of advanced battery material advances we have worked to create," said Alfred P. Sattelberger, Argonne Deputy Laboratory Director for Programmes and Chief Research Officer. "We are proud that our energy storage discoveries have been embraced by the worldwide battery industry."

With financial assistance from the US Department of Energy (DOE), BASF in 2012 commissioned a factory in Elyria, Ohio, to produce NMC cathode precursor materials. BASF also conducts NMC cathode materials research and development in Beachwood, Ohio.

Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle

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