3M Accuses Lenovo, Sony and Others of Patent Infringement

In a federal lawsuit, 3M claims that several major IT vendors have been infringing on two patents the company holds for the design of lithium-ion batteries.

3M has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that several IT vendors, including Lenovo Group, Hitachi, Sony and Panasonic, violated two patents the company holds for the design for lithium-ion batteries.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota on March 7, also names CDW, Batteries Com, Total Micro Technologies and Matsushita Electronic Industrial. In addition to damages, the lawsuit asks that these companies stop selling batteries that infringe on 3Ms patented designs.

In its lawsuit, 3M, which is based in Maplewood, Minn., claims these companies infringed on lithium-ion battery designs the company filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Nov. 15, 2005, and July 18, 2006.

Specifically, the patents— No. 6,964,828 and No. 7,078,128—refer to 3Ms design of "Cathode Compositions for Lithium-Ion Batteries." In designing lithium-ion batteries, the cathode is a reference to the positive electrode within the battery.

"3M Co. is the exclusive licensee of the Asserted Patents," the lawsuit said. "3M IPC and 3M Co. have standing to bring an action for infringement of the Asserted Patents and to recover all damages and remedies available at law and equity."

/zimages/3/28571.gifDespite recent recalls, lithium-ion battery technology appears to be here to stay. Click here to read more.

The company claims in the lawsuit that the other IT vendors designed batteries based on one or both of 3Ms patents and sold those batteries in laptops and other electronic devices.

Lithium-ion batteries, and the problems associated with them, have been in the news a lot lately. On March 1, Lenovo announced that it would recall more than 200,000 ThinkPad laptops that came with faulty lithium-ion battery packs manufactured by Sanyo Electronic.

In 2006, Sony found itself in the middle of a battery cell recall that affected notebooks made by Dell, Apple, Lenovo and others.

Sony has been shouldering the financial burden of the worldwide recall.

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