Maker of lithium batteries for plug-in vehicles A123 Systems raised an incredible $400 MM in its IPO yesterday. A123 is currently defending a patent infringement suit brought by the University of Texas and Canada’s largest utility, Hydro-Quebec. According to the co-plaintiffs’ complaint, Hydro-Quebec is the university’s exclusive licensee of two lithium battery patents developed by university professor Dr. John Goodenough and his team. The complaint also names defendants China BAK Battery, Inc. and Black & Decker, the former allegedly manufacturing A123 batteries used in the latter’s devices. Massachusetts-based A123 filed a complaint in Boston against Hydro-Quebec seeking declaratory judgment of invalidity and non-infringement. The Texas action was stayed and the Boston action dismissed pending reexam, with motions to restart proceedings subsequently filed in both cases.
Bloomberg reports that A123 has been in talks to settle the disputes, according to an unopposed calendaring motion filed by A123 in the Texas action on Sept. 15, about two weeks before the IPO.
The suits involve U.S. Patent No. 5, 910,383 (“Production Process of Carbonaceious Material and Battery”) and No. 6,514,640 (“Cathode Materials for Secondary (Rechargeable) Lithium Batteries”).
‘383 patent claim 1:
1. A process for the production of a carbonaceous material comprising the following steps:
subjecting a vacuum distillation residual pitch to heat treatment at a temperature of up to 420.degree. C. until the content of quinoline-insoluble components thereof becomes 50 to 80 wt. %, whereby said pitch is converted into a mesophase pitch;
grinding the thus-obtained mesophase pitch into fine particles having an aspect ratio not greater than 2;
subjecting the thus-ground product to oxidation treatment; and
subjecting the thus-oxidized product to carbonization or graphitization treatment.
‘640 patent claim 1:
1. A cathode material for a rechargeable electrochemical cell, said cell also comprising an anode and an electrolyte, the cathode material comprising a compound of the ordered or modified olivine structure having the formula:
wherein: N is a cation of a metal selected from the group consisting of Fe, Mn, Co, Ti, Ni or mixtures thereof; D is a metal having a +2 oxidation state selected from the group consisting of Mg.sup.2+, Ni.sup.2+, Co.sup.2+, Zn.sup.2+, Cu.sup.2+, and Ti.sup.2+ ; T is a metal having a +3 oxidation state selected from the group consisting of Al.sup.3+t, Ti.sup.3+, Cr.sup.3+, Fe.sup.3+, Mn.sup.3+, Ga.sup.3+, Zn.sup.3+, and V.sup.3+ ; Q is a metal having a +4 oxidation state selected from the group consisting of Ti.sup.4+ ; Ge.sup.4+ ; Sn.sup.4+, and V.sup.4+ ; R is a metal having a +5 oxidation state selected from the group consisting of V.sup.5+ ; Nb.sup.5+, and Ta.sup.5+ ; X comprises Si, S, P, V or mixtures thereof; 0.ltoreq.x.ltoreq.1; and 0.ltoreq.d, t, q, r.ltoreq.1, where at least one of d, t, q, and r is not 0.