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USPTO Rules in Favor of Chinese Rare-Earth Magnet Alliance_SHENYANG GENERAL MAGNETIC CO.,LTD
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USPTO Rules in Favor of Chinese Rare-Earth Magnet Alliance

Alston & Bird client Alliance of Rare-Earth Permanent Magnet Industry (the Alliance) recently achieved a comprehensive patent victory against Hitachi Metals, Ltd. at the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).

In two inter partes review (IPR) proceedings before the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), the Alliance successfully invalidated all claims challenged in a pair of Hitachi patents relating to the production of rare-earth magnets. The IPR wins are some of the first examples of a Chinese manufacturer defeating patent claims in the USPTO prior to importation of a related product. The Alliance’s success demonstrates how the USPTO’s IPR system can be used to proactively invalidate patent claims that would otherwise impede access to the U.S. market in a given industry.

At the center of this particular dispute are rare-earth magnets, which are the strongest commercially available permanent magnets and are widely used across a variety of industries, including the automotive, computer, and renewable energy sectors. While the overwhelming majority of the rare earth material used in magnets of this type is sourced from China, U.S. patents covering various aspects of rare-earth magnet production have long limited the ability of other manufacturers to import rare-earth magnets into the U.S. As the PTAB’s decisions demonstrate, however, not all of these U.S. patents are valid and the IPR system is an efficient and effective tool for demonstrating this in advance of any business activity in the U.S.

The lawyers at Alston & Bird are expeienced in handling patent disputes before the PTAB and are pleased to have achieved another significant win on behalf of the Alliance.

The Alliance comprises seven Chinese companies: Ningbo Permanent Magnetics Co., Ltd.; Ningbo Ketian Magnet Co., Ltd.; Ningbo Huahui Magnet Co., Ltd.; Jianmgen Magsource New Material Co., Ltd.; Shenyang General Magnetic Co., Ltd.; Ningbo Tongchuang Strong Magnet Co., Ltd. and Hangzhou Permanent Magnet Group Co., Ltd.

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