Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (Troy, MI) announced that its unit Ovonic Battery Co. Inc. had filed suit against Matsushita Battery Industrial Co. Ltd. (MBI, Japan), Toyota Motor Corp. (Japan), Panasonic EV Energy Co. Ltd. (Japan) and other related entities for patent infringement. The suit charges that Matsushita's hybrid electric vehicle batteries, battery components and battery systems infringe on Ovonic's patents. MBI and Panasonic EV supply batteries used in the Toyota Prius gasoline-electric hybrid car sold by Toyota in the US.
Ovonic also ended a 1992 agreement that licensed MBI under patents held by Energy Conversion and Ovonic Battery for the manufacture and sale of small consumer batteries. Energy Conversion alleges that MBI breached that agreement by failing to pay royalties to Ovonic Battery. Ovonic Battery said it seeks damages for the royalties, and also to enjoin the importation of all Panasonic products that contain batteries using its patented technology.