3M Suing Several Electronics Giants Over Rechargeable Battery Patents

March 08, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

3M Co. is suing several big electronics companies, claiming that they infringed on two 3M patents for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. 3M, which already sells conductive salts used in lithium-ion batteries, claims that its inventions improve the batteries' ability to retain capacity after repeated charges and increase safety, due to their not getting as hot.

Among the companies included in 3M’ lawsuite are: Sony Corp., Lenovo Group Inc., Matsushita Industrial Electric Co., Panasonic Corp. of North America, Hitachi Ltd., as well as others.

3M claims that Sony and Sony Electronics are making batteries for laptop computers that use the 3M technology. 3M has also targeted batteries made by CDW Corp. and Total Micro Technologies Inc., whose batteries are used in ThinkPad laptops made by Lenovo. The suit also names Batteries Com LLC, which makes batteries for Dell Inc. computers, although Dell was not named in the suit. Hitachi Ltd. is included due to its batteries being used in a cordless screwdriver. Matsushita and its Panasonic Corp. unit were included for the "Revolithium" batteries used in cordless power tools.

3M, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, filed the lawsuit in nearby Minneapolis. The company has also asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to block imports of the batteries or laptop computers containing them into the United States. As of yet, none of the affected companies have issued an official statement regarding the suit.