Umicore Calls BASF’s Patent Breach Claim “Flawed and Erroneous”

04.05.2015 -

Belgium-based battery materials technology leader Umicore has publicly responded to BASF's allegations that it breached the German chemical giant's patents for nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) cathode raw materials used in lithium-ion batteries for electric cars and portable electronic devices.

In its official response to the Wilmington, Delaware, USA, federal court hearing BASF's charges, the company called the complaint "flawed" and "erroneous."

Subsequently, in response to a question about the worst-case scenario outcome of the lawsuit during Umicore's earnings call, the company's CEO, Marc Grynberg, said: "There is no case and there is no worst case scenario to be considered.

"All products in our business do have freedom to operate and are not infringing on the BASF or any other patents and we can demonstrate that," Grynberg added.

Supported by Chicago-based Argonne National Laboratory, from which it licensed the patents, BASF in April filed suit in the Delaware court as well as with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The world's largest chemical producer also claims that Umicore has sold the technology to third parties, naming the US arm of Japan's Makita Corporation in the lawsuit.

According to BASF, the patent breach 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 German group plans to invest up to $500 million in its battery materials business up to 2020.