There has been a significant breakthrough in the lawsuits regarding the LFP patent rights. Süd-Chemie, through its subsidiary Phostech Lithium Inc., was previously the exclusive licensed supplier of LMP/LFP. It has now agreed with the request from the three patent owners, Hydro-Quebec, Universite de Montreal and CNRS, to facilitate the distribution of this technology through the creation of LiFePO4+C Licensing AG, Muttenz/Switzerland. This new entity will issue sublicenses to suitable LMP/LFP producers capable of addressing market demands with high quality products.
Aleees, the leading supplier of LFP cathode material internationally and the sole producer of LFP-nano co-crystalline olivine (LFP-NCO), announced today that the decade-long debate over patent rights involving its Li-ion battery material and carbon coating technology is coming to an end. Aleees, one of only four companies granted global patent authorization, signed an agreement with LiFePO4+C Licensing AG on July 1st, 2011. This is the most significant progress toward the release of the LFP material patents.
According to Aleees, the company owns 58 patents in battery materials and battery technologies. It has produced and sold more than one thousand tons of its LFP-NCO material since 2009. However, over the past five years, litigation involving the production and use of the LFP material remained pending with no final verdicts. This uncertainty had seriously affected the penetration of the LFP technology into the global lithium battery markets. Aleees thus has successfully applied for licensing and the authorization to produce and use LFP material for the purpose of removing any uncertainty over patents rights, as well as helping its customers expand their products into global electric vehicle (EV) and energy storage system (ESS) markets, which are currently the main applications for the olivine material. It is expected that the successful authorization will also help battery manufacturers worldwide to direct their development activities toward the LFP technology.
However, Aleees has expressed its concern regarding the small number of granted licenses. Aleees is currently engaging in further discussions with the licensors to authorize more companies to the use of the patents.
Resulting from high oil prices and concerns over global warming, lithium batteries using LFP as the active material have undergone rapid development and are widely hailed by experts as one of the most promising advanced developments in green energy technology. LFP batteries have already seen widespread usage in EVs and ESS for smart grids due to their light weight and superior safety characteristics. In recent years, market demand for EVs and ESS has increased and are expected to be high potential markets for lithium batteries. Zpryme, an American venture capital investment company, predicted that the market scale for smart grids will reach 171 billion US dollars. The Institute of Information of Technology (Japan) also pointed out that the lithium battery market for EV applications will grow from 417 million USD in 2010 to 12.6 billion USD by the year 2014, an increase of 41%. As far as end-user applications are concerned, Pike Research in the USA concluded in its analysis that by 2015, alternative fuel buses will represent 50% of the 64,000 total transit bus deliveries worldwide, up from 28% of total bus deliveries in 2010. These forecasts and predictions indicate that LFP battery demand is likely to grow rapidly. All LFP manufacturers around the world will have to plan carefully on both production and patent strategies.
Out of the limited selections of lithium battery systems, olivine material, represented by LFP, has been accepted as the most suitable for EV and ESS applications due to its superior safety characteristics and long cycle life.
Initial sublicensing agreements have been concluded with two Taiwanese entities, namely Tatung Fine Chemicals Co. and Advanced Lithium Electrochemistry (Cayman) Co., Ltd (ALEEES), as well as two Japanese entities, namely Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co. Ltd. and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. Aleees is the only non-public company and not owned by any conglomerates. The main reason that Aleees is selected is its accomplishments and innovation in material development over the past six years. Aleees has dominated the market by producing and selling more than 1000 tons of LFP-NCO. Furthermore, it has accumulated extensive experience in the research and development on how to extend the cycle life of lithium batteries. The patent alliance has invited Aleees to establish a factory in Quebec, Canada. Aleees, following Süd Chemie, will become the second LFP-NCO manufacturer that invests in North America. Aleees has made an alliance with Siemens and ZF Germany to promote the electrification of public transportation systems in Asia and is going to operate the first E-bus routes in Taiwan.