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07-02-2009 09:16 PM #1
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- Jul 2009
Pressure Obama and the government to exercisee Compulsory Licensing over NiMH battery patents
A new website, dcmonitor (dot) com, was just created with the purpose of helping citizens put pressure on the government to exercise either eminent domain or compulsory licensing for the NiMH battery technology currently owned by Chevron. Please show your support by visiting it.
A little backstory (From the book "Two Cents per Mile" by Nevres Cefo):
GM destroyed the GM EV-1, an advanced electric vehicle (EV), as soon as they managed to get the Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Alan Lloyd, to push for the end of the zero-emissions vehicles mandate (ZEV).
Shortly thereafter, GM sold the patents to the incredibly efficient NiMH batteries to ChevronTexaco, who successfully mothballed the large capacity and more powerful models necessary for full electric vehicles.
In the mid-1990s, before Rick Wagoner became CEO, GM acquired the patent rights for the NiMH battery from Ovonics, a company founded by the battery’s inventor, Stanford R. Ovshinsky. This purchase appeared to be a smart investment move in response to California’s 1990 ZEV mandate that forced GM and other automakers to produce zero emission, battery-powered electric cars such as the GM EV-1. But General Motors’Vice President of Government Relations, Andy Card (President George W. Bush’s soon to be Chief of Staff), who had actively opposed electric cars for years, soon revealed GM’s true intentions. On October 10, 2000, GM sold their control of the EV batteries to Texaco. Less than a week later, on October 16, 2000, only days after Texaco acquired control of the batteries, Chevron (formerly Standard Oil of California) bought Texaco in a $100 billion merger. The battery patents are now owned by Cobasys, a company that is 70% controlled by Chevron.
Shortly thereafter, the Toyota-Panasonic EV-95 product line of proven NiMH batteries (still running today in the Toyota RAV4¬EVs) was shut down when Cobasys and Chevron sued Toyota and Panasonic for patent right infringements. Cobasys (Chevron) prevailed to the tune of $30 million—even though Panasonic claimed vital differences in the battery that advanced the thermo-electrical properties, longevity, and performance of the batteries. Although Panasonic had to pay licensing fees to Cobasys as a result of the lawsuit, Cobasys and Chevron have carefully excluded the right to produce batteries capable of powering EVs. Cobasys/Chevron will only make 8-10 Amh batteries available to the public and limits the licensing of hybrid batteries to auto manufacturers, controlling the scale in which improvements are made to this technology and who can use it. Chevron also maintains veto power over any sale or licensing of NiMH technology. In addition, Chevron maintains the right to seize all of Cobasys’ intellectual property rights in the event that ECD Ovonics (Energy Conversion Devices Ovonics) does not fulfill its contractual obligations.
Without access to the more powerful NiMH batteries, Toyota was forced to cancel the production of RAV4-EV vehicles. Unlike GM’s EV-1, Toyota had actually sold the vehicles—not leased them—so they are a living testimony to the incredible technology in this battery. The legacy of this battery cannot be rounded up and crushed in the middle of a desert, as GM did with all its EV-1 vehicles in an effort to hide the successful battery technology in them. Cobasys/Chevron can limit access to new or replacement batteries only. The batteries cannot be sold or imported into the USA, according to one Toyota spokesperson. Only a few used Toyota-Panasonic EV-95 NiMH battery packs, salvaged from crushed vehicles, are available, and those are only for warranty replacements on existing RAV4-EVs. Unfortunately, for Cobasys/ Chevron, the NiMH battery keeps on ticking like an infernal Energizer bunny. With some owners clocking more than 100,000 miles and most with more than a decade of use, hundreds of RAV4¬EVs are still going strong—much to the consternation of GM and the other automakers who contradict this reality with their claims of not having a viable battery.