The Case: Chemical Companies Fight Against Battery Patent Infringement

A group of Li-ion battery manufacturers filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against several respondents, including a Chinese battery manufacturer, a Chinese drone company and its U.S. subsidiary, and a Chinese mobile phone company and its U.S. subsidiary. The complaint alleges that the respondents are unlawfully manufacturing batteries and electrochemical devices that infringe the complainants’ U.S. patents. The patented technology relates to lithium-ion batteries that include composite separators with features that claimed to improve the mechanical strength and heat resistance of the separators, which were said to result in enhanced overall battery safety through increased robustness and reduced likelihood of short circuits inside the battery.

 The Ask: A Testifying Expert with Knowledge of Lithium-Ion Battery Separators

The complainants approached WIT to provide an expert with extensive knowledge and experience in the relatively narrow field of lithium-ion battery separators, particularly those that were commercially available and utilized in the industry between 2005 and 2008. Given the technical nature of the investigation, the expert needed to possess a deep understanding of the microstructure and morphology of these separators.  Furthermore, the expert would need to be well-versed in the testing methodologies and techniques used to evaluate the operability and functionality of these separators within the context of lithium-ion batteries. This would include a thorough understanding of the relevant industry standards, best practices, and testing protocols that were applicable during the 2005-2008 timeframe.

Why WIT Was Best Suited to Meet the Expert Need 

In anticipation of an influx of disputes regarding technology patent infringement, WIT actively recruited a diverse group of world-class academics, industry executives, and former government regulators who are dedicated to supporting our clients in complex IP matters. For this ITC Investigation, WIT was able to recommend an expert who is a professor with a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at one of the United States’ most prestigious universities. This expert has direct experience working with lithium-ion batteries and the technology behind them, equipping him to speak to the science behind the patents at issue creditably.

Additionally, we provided a second expert to further support the complainants. This expert brought more than 30 years of experience in the battery industry with a focus on research, product development, manufacturing, and battery materials. He possessed a deep understanding of the complex requirements for battery management that would help to support our client’s matter.

The Legal Landscape: IP Infringement Matters Dominated ITC Dockets Last Year

The need for industry-specific experts before the ITC has expanded exponentially. We have seen increased scrutiny over both the details and allocation of U.S. presence as well as scrutiny over the technical arguments underpinning complaints in both the pre-institution and immediate post-institution phases.

In building industry-specific teams to address the unique needs of 337 Investigations and IP infringement matters, WIT closely monitors ITC filings and the technology at issue in the complaints.

Check out our 2023 year-end ITC report, which evaluates ITC data from EDIS and IDS. The report offers key insights into technology trends, YoY statistics, patents at issue, judge assignments, and more.

How WIT’s Experts Can Assist in ITC Investigations

At WIT, we understand that ITC Investigations can be highly nuanced and have engaged with experts who possess a deep understanding of the major industries and technologies at issue before the Commission. Our ITC Practice features sector-specific teams of technical experts, knowledgeable industry veterans, and skilled specialists in code review and analysis. These experts are dedicated to achieving the best outcomes for our clients, providing comprehensive support through every stage of the investigation process.

Contact us for more information about our world-class experts and to learn more about our expert teams in our areas of focus within technology.

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