Chinese miners take Hitachi to court over rare earth patents

After preparing their case for the past year, seven Chinese neodymium iron boron magnet producers are moving forward with U.S. patent lawsuits against Japan’s Hitachi Metals Ltd, China Business News reported Monday.

The rare earth companies accuse Hitachi of violating international patent law and establishing unfair market barriers against them.

The alliance will give the related files to the U.S. Patent Office to convince the agency to drop Hitachi Metals’ several core patents, alliance member Zhao Hongliang, president of Ningbo Tongchuang Strong Magnet Material Co., told China Business News at the Sixth Baotou China Rare Earth Industry Forum. 

Neodymium iron boron, a rare earth product known for its magnetic properties, is used in the automobile, wind power and other high-tech industries.

The alliance said that Hitachi Metals holds more than 600 patents globally, and it has only authorized eight Chinese companies to use 149 patents, greatly limiting the exports of Chinese neodymium iron boron magnet manufacturers. Hitachi has applied with the U.S. Patent Office to extend its patents until 2029.

Another member of the alliance, Sun Bayou, president of the Shenyang General Magnetic Co, said the seven companies can manufacture more than 10,000 tons of neodymium iron boron magnet products, but without the patents, the products cannot be sold to lucrative foreign high-end markets.

Jia Yingyan, sales manager of Hangzhou Magnet Group, noted that if the alliance cannot secure the Hitachi held patents, it may stop clients from purchasing the products due to patent concerns.

The alliance also includes Ningbo Permanent Magnetics Co., Ningbo Keitan Magnet Co., Ningbo Huahui Magnet Co. and Jianmgen Magsource New Material Co.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Technology has pledged its full support for the Chinese Alliance rare earth producers.

This article appears courtesy of MineWeb. To read more mining international and finance news click here.

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