A123, Patent Valuation, and Chinese Cleantech Investment

Top U.S. assignees in the lithium-ion battery space, ranked by their lithium iron phosphate patent holdings. More information regarding patent ownership and patent filing rates in LiFePO4 electrodes, advanced batteries, and other energy storage technologies can be found in the CleanTech PatentEdge.

In August, Chinese industrial giant Wanxiang announced its intent to rescue Waltham, Massachusetts-based lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123 from insolvency. In a memorandum of understanding released by the two companies, Wanxiang pledged to invest up to $450m in A123, provided that–among other things–A123 maintain its current level of R&D and engineering operations (including any associated personnel).This condition, along with Wanxiang’s past investment in struggling U.S. cleantech companies, appears to indicate that Wanxiang is interested in A123’s technical know-how.

A123’s patent assets may also be a factor. Transferred to Wanxiang earlier this year, A123’s patent portfolio is unlikely to be worth $450m on its own; however, it does represent the largest collection of U.S.-issued lithium iron phosphate (LFP) patents (and pending applications) owned by any company–domestic or otherwise–operating in the United States. For a company looking for business opportunities in the alternative energy storage space, this must be a highly attractive asset.

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