Nippon Steel sues Japan business partner Toyota over patent

Nippon Steel sues Japan business partner Toyota over patent

TOKYO (NWN) — Nippon Steel Corp. is suing Toyota Motor Corp. over a patent for a technology used in electric motors, in a rare case of legal wrangling between Japan’s top steelmaker and the top automaker over intellectual property. Is.

Tokyo-based Nippon Steel filed the suit in Tokyo District Court on Thursday, seeking compensation for damages totaling 20 billion yen ($177 million). The Baoshan Iron and Steel Company, or Baosteel, named in the lawsuit is a Chinese steel maker that produces and supplies steel that allegedly infringes patents.

Toyota said it learned of the lawsuit “with great regret”, stressing that it had investigated potential patent conflicts with Baosteel. Toyota sees Nippon Steel as an “important business partner” that has been supporting the Japanese auto industry for years, the maker of the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models said in a statement.

According to Nippon Steel, at the center of the lawsuit is a Japanese patent for a non-oriented electrical steel sheet, an essential component in electric motors used in EVs, power plants and mobile phones.

Nippon Steel executives said its prized technology is critical to its competitiveness, as the world shifts to “a carbon neutral society” and emissions-reducing innovations in steelmaking are increasingly needed.

Nippon Steel is also seeking a court injunction against Toyota from manufacturing and selling vehicles in Japan equipped with motors that use steel sheets suspected of infringing its patents. This will include its hybrid models. Nippon Steel said there was no change in its plan to continue working with Toyota as a whole.

Baosteel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter