August 13th, 2013 in China -- Aug 17th, 2012, Hitachi Metals America and its wholly owned subsidiary Hitachi Metals North Carolina submitted application for 337 U.S. Survey to ITC targeting 29 companies all over the world including 4 Chinese companies. 3 of the Chinese companies came of an agreement with Hitachi Metals America. They promised to pay the patent fee and part of sales revenue to obtain the patent license to export their products to USA and EU. There are 8 Chinese companies having the patent license including these 3 companies.
This issue made the other Chinese rare earth company began to aware of the importance of patent. “We only care about business before, not even aware that our development will be totally controlled by foreign companies in the near future.” Owner of a Chinese rare earth company said. “Hitachi has established the patent pool all over the world; you can’t export to USA, EU or any other market cover by the patent without the patent license. If we don’t fight back now, we may not even be able to sell the product in local market.” According to the website of Hitachi Metals America, the company has applied for over 600 patents about Neodymium Iron Boron all over the world, about 100 of them in USA. The patents Hitachi Metal applied in China since about 2000 which are not released; all industry insiders believed that number should be about 320. If these patents are approved, most of the Chinese neodymium iron boron suppliers will not be able to sell any products legally. What’s more Hitachi Metal announced that they will not authorize any other Chinese company the patent license.
Now, the Chinese companies get really nervous. To deal with that, about 20 of Chinese rare earth companies established and Enterprise Alliance. They plan to invest $20-30 Million to fight for their rights. They still have chance as most the patents of Hitachi Metal are Utility Patent and the actually process and equipment for manufacturing of ndfeb is different from. If they win, some of the patents of Hitachi Metal will become invalid, Chinese companies will get big advantage.
By Danny Burns from Stanford Magnets, a top USA supplier of rare earth magnets.