Nippon Steel is suing Toyota for violating its electromagnetic1 steel sheet patent. Toyota in a characteristically Japanese reply said today “that such matters should be discussed between material manufacturers, and we have learned of this lawsuit with great regret.”
The conflict arises from Baoshan Iron & Steel, based in Shanghai, China, and a subsidiary of state-owned China Baowu Steel Group. It is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Toyota uses Baoshan steel sheet. It comes at a time when the Biden Administration is wrestling with US trade policy with China. The former administration started a trade war that cost US jobs, damaged the agricultural sector, and was a disaster for the US auto industry in China, the world’s largest vehicle market. It is also involved in a dispute about whether proposed lavish EV buyer tax credits should apply to imported and non-union made electric vehicles.
Toyota claims it checked that “there was no infringement of another company’s patent before concluding the contract. “We also received a written statement from Baosteel to that effect,” Toyota said.
“Because Nippon Steel mentioned to us its concerns, we confirmed again with Baosteel, which, in turn, expressed its view to us that there was no patent infringement. It is again with great regret that we have learned that Nippon Steel, which has supported the Japanese automobile industry and our company’s automobile manufacturing for many years and is an important business partner of ours, decided to file such a lawsuit against us, as we are a material user,” Toyota concluded.
1 Electromagnetic steel is an iron alloy tailored to produce precise magnetic properties. It has a small hysteresis area that causes low power loss per cycle, low core loss, and high permeability. Also known as Electrical steel, it is typically made in cold-rolled strips less than 2 mm thick.
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