Clearing the Fog Around Lithium-ion Traction Batteries

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"The patent race will unfold with third-generation lithium batteries."

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Dr. Peter Harrop from IDTechEx pinpoints a common source of confusion with deep implications for lithium battery patents going forward: The term "lithium-ion traction batteries" should be used the term generically for all rechargeable batteries involving lithium ions, says Dr. Peter Harrop. For example, favoring lithium titanate against lithium polymer or lithium iron phosphate is a fallacy, as the first usually refers to how the anode is made, the second to the electrolyte and the third to the cathode. In principle, one could have all these in one battery.

The report, "Advanced Energy Storage Technologies: Patent Trends and Company Positioning," details an impressive array of patent-related data in the lithium sector. In the number of advanced energy storage technology patents filed annually, Japan stays ahead while the U.S., Europe and China play catch up. Korea is clipping along at a strong, steady rate. These data are dominated by lithium-ion battery patents.

The report also tabulates investment by the giants in lithium-ion batteries. To compete on a global level, companies must have a minimum of $2B in investment, and only a handful of investment giants come close in their commitments. However, they all need to win the intellectual property race as well. And with second-generation lithium batteries already in commercial use, the race for intellectual property rights will unfold with the third-generation, already in the works.

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