BASF Sues Umicore Over Alleged Patent Breach

12.04.2015 -

A US court has given Belgium's Umicore, one of the leading providers of cathode materials for batteries, until Apr. 17 to reply to allegations by BASF that the company breached patents for nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) cathode raw materials used in lithium-ion batteries for electric cars and portable electronic devices.

The German chemical giant, which filed suit in a federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, as well as with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), licensed the patents from Chicago-based Argonne National Laboratory in 2009. Argonne is participating in the suit.

Along with breaching its patents, BASF accuses Umicore of selling the battery technology to another firm. It also asserts that the company threatened to sue a customer considering a switch to the Ludwigshafen group as its supplier of battery components.

BASF claims that Umicore's action has cost it billions of dollars in potential sales and deprived it of the ability to compete as a supplier for electric car platforms expected to launch in 2016 and 2017.

The group, which created a Battery Materials business unit in 2012, is planning to invest as much a $500 million in its battery materials business up to 2020.

Umicore, which acquired the former Degussa (now Evonik) catalyst materials business from OM for $275 million in 2003, disputes the allegations.