Chapter 274: Overseas Patent Authorization
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Since Grynberg often dealt with people from R&D, he was skilled in doing this type of business talks.
The more one bragged the more one would be hated.
Therefore, when he introduced himself, he kept it short. He said he was the CEO of Umicore, and he went straight to the point.
“I’m just going to ask. Do you have plans to sell the patents?”
Grynberg, who planned out his question, nearly choked on Lu Zhou’s answer.
He coughed to cover his embarrassment before he said, “Are you not going to ask for a price? What if we can give you a satisfactory offer?”
“It doesn’t make any sense to talk about this,” said Lu Zhou as he gently put down the fork and knife. He then said with a relaxed tone, “How high can you offer? $10 billion? $20 billion? The lithium negative electrode industry only just began, no one knows how big the market can get. Even if I wanted to sell the modified PDMS film patent, I wouldn’t do it right now.”
$10 billion was obviously impossible. Lu Zhou was only exaggerating.
Perhaps the lithium-sulfur batteries in the laboratories were worth this price, but the lithium anode material definitely was not.
After all, the global annual output value of lithium-ion battery anode materials was only $10 billion USD, and this was because graphite materials were expensive.
Grynberg was given a hard time by Lu Zhou.
Lu Zhou obviously did not want to negotiate with him.
However, he could not just give up like this.
“But have you thought about substitutability?” said Grynberg. He smiled and said, “We all know that technology develops very fast. Maybe in a few years, another potential material appears. Are you sure that by then, you’ll still be able to sell your patent at a higher price?”
Lu Zhou smiled at Grynberg’s prediction of the future, but he was not concerned about it.
“I’m willing to take this risk.”
Seeing that this Belgium dude stopped talking, Lu Zhou started to peel the lobster.
What a joke.
Do you not know how much the industry spends on negative lithium electrodes?
After decades of burning money, this problem still hasn’t been solved. Do you think that in just a few years someone can come up with a better solution than mine?
It’s not impossible, but it would be damn close.
Seeing that Lu Zhou did not budge, Grynberg sighed and asked, “Okay then, let’s put buying off the table. What price are you willing to authorize the patent?”
When Lu Zhou heard this question, he had a smile on his face.
He had been waiting for this.
He had been thinking about this question two months ago. He even did some investigation on the lithium battery market.
The total estimated global demand for lithium battery anode materials in 2016 was 138k tons. From current statistics, the actual demand this year should be in line with expectations.
Although this data corresponded to graphite materials and not lithium anode materials, it was a good estimate and reference.
After all, the lithium anode materials had cost and performance advantages. The speed at which the industry eliminated graphite anodes could be much faster than Lu Zhou had imagined.
For Lu Zhou, the biggest way to maximize profits would be to earn a certain patent fee percentage for per ton of material.
Taking the increase of demand into account, in five years, he could earn a nine-figure USD salary.
The downside was that the system mission would not wait for anyone.
If Lu Zhou used this patent authorization method, his asset growth this year would only be the $400,000 USD salary from Princeton.
Therefore, he came up with a new idea.
It could guarantee both short term and long term gains.
Lu Zhou paused for a second. He then voiced his proposal, “I’m willing to grant you three years of use and agency rights for the modified PDMS patent, for $200 million USD. This is for use outside of China only.”
“In this three year period, you’ll receive an exclusive patent license for the global market outside of China. I’ll not make any additional authorizations to third parties. You’ll need to give me half of both direct and indirect income and bear all legal obligations and responsibilities.
When Grynberg heard the $200 million asking price, he somewhat disapproved it.
However, when he heard the second half of Lu Zhou’s request, a look of excitement could be seen in his eyes.
In principle, the patent itself was exclusive and monopolistic. However, each country had different laws of interpretation and the exclusive right of IP was not unlimited.
In theory, even if Umicore gave Lu Zhou an offer that he could not refuse to buy the patent, they still could not monopolize the production and exclude other companies.
In addition to [Patent Law], each country also had its own [Anti-Monopoly Law]. This clearly defined the abuse of intellectual property rights.
Simply speaking, if a patent had “irreplaceability”, and the market share of a company counted as a monopoly, then it may face antitrust investigations.
For example, if the lithium anode material had a huge advantage over graphite materials, then the modified PDMS film technology would undoubtedly count as “irreplaceable”.
For a patent of this kind, refusal of authorization, price discrimination, price gouging, and etc could infringe anti-monopoly regulations.
As for the exact boundaries of the law, it would depend on various factors. To test the limit, an excellent team of lawyers would be needed to cooperate with the top managers of the company.
Lu Zhou was unable to do this.
However, Umicore was different.
Compared to him, this multinational chemical giant was much more familiar with regulations.
For its own benefit, they would certainly increase the licensing fees and extend its advantages in the anode material market while they remained within legal regulations of course.
In three years, Lu Zhou could receive a large sum of patent licensing fees, and Umicore could receive the market competitiveness it wanted.
This was in the interests of both parties.
Grynberg hid the excitement in his eyes and put on a hesitant face.
“Three years is too short, I could maybe accept it for five years. You should know that we got the Clariant Group’s LFP materials license for only $10 million USD…”
“You can’t compare it like that,” said Lu Zhou as he smiled and shook his head. He added, “LEP is only a cost-effective cathode material. Do you think that I don’t know that your $10 million USD is only a barrier of entry? For every ton of LFP you produced, you have to pay Clariant Group another $20 million USD.”
Grynberg was called out but his facial expression did not change at all.
He looked at Lu Zhou. As if he had made some decision, he only said two words.
Lu Zhou’s heart popped out of his chest when he heard this number.
$400 million US dollars!
It was not just about money for him. There was the 400,000 in experience points attached to it…
Honestly speaking, he was intrigued.
Lu Zhou took a deep breath and said, “Four years at most, that’s my bottom line. If after four years we can still cooperate well, I can consider renewing the contract at a new price. Otherwise, I’m sure that Nichia and 3M are definitely interested in negotiating with me.”
That last sentence played a decisive role.
Grynberg still wanted to fight, but he did not have the cards for it. After all, Lu Zhou did not need scientific research funding, and he was a well-known scholar in the academic community.
Especially when he thought that Nichia could offer a higher price, he loosened his shoulder and made a decision.
“Fine, you win. Four years it is.”