LG Chem and 3M have entered into a patent license agreement concerning the use of nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide (NMC) cathode materials in lithium-ion battery technology, according to recent reports.
Regarding the terms of the new agreement, LG Chem has been granted license by 3M to use US Patents: 6,964,828; 7,078,128; 6,660,432; 8,241,791; and 8,685,565. The agreement extends to the uses of the equivalent patents in other countries — this includes those in China, Japan, Korea, Europe, and Taiwan.
For some background here, during 3M’s collaboration with Professor Jeff Dahn (as well as his students) at Dalhousie University on the NMC technology, 3M developed a wide range of different compositions of the material. This includes: “NMC 111 (for energy and power); NMC 442 (for energy and power); and an optimized high-power NMC 111 composition with high porosity.”
Previous to this agreement, LG Chem had licensed NMC technology developed at Argonne National Laboratory.
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NMC cathode compositions offer a balance of power, energy, thermal stability and low cost. NMC cathode materials can be tailored through changes in composition and morphology to meet a wide range of customer requirements from high-energy handheld consumer electronics to high-power electric vehicles. LG Chem supplies its NMC-based Li-ion cells to a growing number of plug-in vehicles, among them the Chevy Volt.
Broadly, patents on NMC reach back into the 2000s, with Argonne National Laboratory filing the first one in 2000 based on work done by Dr Michael Thackeray, followed shortly thereafter by a patent filed by 3M based on work done by Dr Jeff Dahn at Dalhousie University.
In 2014, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) confirmed the novelty of NMC patents for each (Argonne and 3M). Earlier this year, BASF filed suit against battery materials maker Umicore for infringement of its NMC patents. Umicore is a licensee of 3M NMC patents.
Looking at this recent announcement in that light, it seems clear that the new agreement with 3M is intended to ensure that LG Chem doesn’t have any legal episodes in the future as concerns its use of NMC technology.
The vice president of LG Chem IP Center, Kyunghwa Min, commented: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement with 3M. This license will give our battery customers confidence in LG’s technology and our long-term commitment to the battery industry. The license also opens the door to new opportunities for LG Chem as a supplier of cathode materials to the battery industry.”