3M Sues Sony, Lenovo Over Batteries

3M filed suit this week in Minneapolis, Minn. against computer makers Sony and Lenovo, along with a handful of other firms, for allegedly infringing on its patents related to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The company also asked that imports of the batteries be blocked.

At issue is the cathode materials used inside the batteries, which 3M claims makes them last longer and give off less heat. The company says it spent 10 years developing the technology, and says it is a $700 million business.

Battery heat has become a big issue after a number of high-profile cases in which laptop batteries exploded during use. The issue prompted massive recalls by a number of top computer makers, including Sony, Dell, Apple and Lenovo.

3M says Sony is now making batteries with its technology that are ending up in Sony laptops, while CDW and Total Micro Technologies are making infringing batteries for Lenovo notebook computers. In addition, Hitachi, Matsushita and subsidiary Panasonic are named in the suit due to batteries they make for cordless tools.

3M has requested that the U.S. International Trade Commission block all imports of the infringing batteries, and any laptops using them.

"3M Co. is the exclusive licensee of the Asserted Patents," reads the lawsuit. "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."

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