Explainer: Why is Toyota being sued by provider Nippon Metal?

TOKYO, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Japan’s Nippon Metal Corp is suing consumer Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) to finish it producing and promoting vehicles which have specialised metal produced by rival supplier Baoshan Iron & Metal Co Ltd (Baosteel) of China, which it is usually suing.

It highlights the excessive stakes for parts producers as engineering transforms the car area and arrives as Japan is increasingly concerned about safeguarding supply chains and psychological residence.

Here’s what is definitely behind the lawsuit and why it’s important:


Nippon Metal is suing Toyota and Baosteel (600019.SS) in a Tokyo courtroom for patent infringement, looking for 20 billion yen ($176 million) in damages from every. Additionally it is attempting to forestall Toyota from offering and manufacturing automobiles in Japan that use Baosteel’s non-oriented magnetic metallic sheets.

Nippon Metal believes the sale and use of the Baosteel sheets in Japan violates its Japanese patent guarantees on composition, thickness, crystal grain diameter and magnetic properties, in accordance with a group spokesperson.

Toyota talked about it verified there was no infringement earlier than concluding its cope with Baosteel.

Baosteel talked about it didn’t agree with Nippon Metal’s claims and it might “firmly” defend its authorized rights and pursuits.

WHY IS THE Metallic Important?

Non-oriented magnetic metallic is specialised metallic that improves the effectiveness of motors in hybrid electrical and electrical automobiles, in accordance to Nippon Metallic.

The group has equipped electromagnetic metallic to Toyota for the Prius hybrid for extra than two a very long time.

Japan’s steelmakers are targeting refined area of interest marketplaces, this type of as specialised car components, by which they’ve so considerably had an edge in the direction of extra substantial Chinese language rivals.

However Toyota’s present supply with Baosteel suggests Chinese language producers is likely to be catching up. Want for specialised metal is anticipated to extend as electrical autos renovate the auto trade.


Nippon Metallic sued South Korea’s POSCO (005490.KS) for lots greater than $1 billion in 2012, alleging POSCO stole its technological know-how for producing a further type of magnetic metallic sheets, that are utilized in transformers.

POSCO later compensated about $250 million to settle.

That go nicely with arrived about proper after a earlier POSCO employees was sentenced for promoting POSCO applied sciences to a Chinese language steelmaker and defined to a courtroom the technological innovation got here from Nippon Metal.

The Chinese language steelmaker in that incident was additionally Baosteel, in accordance to a human being acquainted with the make a distinction.

When contacted by Reuters, Baosteel declined to touch upon the POSCO swimsuit.


The monetary damages sought are unlikely to have a serious impression on Toyota. The extra substantial fear can be if a courtroom stopped it from utilizing the Baosteel metallic when it’s ramping up technology {of electrical} motor autos.

“The quantity of electrified automobiles is escalating and there’s a have to must safe the amount of the weather,” a Toyota spokesperson reported. He declined to say how numerous sorts could possibly be influenced by an injunction on Baosteel provides.


Baosteel defined it’s right now unable to guage the impression on its positive factors from the lawsuit.

Impression ON NIPPON Metallic?

Nippon Metal could presumably have much more to eliminate by having on essential shopper Toyota, which may try to buy extra from rivals outdoors Japan to remain away from upcoming offer-chain disruption.

Nippon Metallic is much more depending on Toyota than the automaker is on the steelmaker, in accordance with scores company Moody’s.

Having mentioned that, UBS analyst Harunobu Goroh wouldn’t see any impression on the elementary marriage involving the 2 Japanese organizations, including they are going to stay strategic companions.


The spat coincides with deepening difficulty in Japan concerning the vulnerability of business provide chains each to U.S.-China commerce frictions and the semiconductors lack.

Japan can also be apprehensive about alleged technological innovation theft by China. New Key Minister Fumio Kishida has made a brand new publish in his cupboard, minister for financial safety, to cope with these difficulties.

China has constantly said it respects mental belongings authorized rights.

For now, alternatively, commerce ministry officers and authorities spokesman Predominant Cupboard Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno have declined to comment on the tussle regarding two of Japan’s industrial giants.

“It is a private sector litigation and I shouldn’t comment,” Matsuno suggested reporters on Friday.

($1 = 114.3400 yen)

Reporting by Tim Kelly, Yuka Obayashi, Aaron Sheldrick, Maki Shiraki, Ritsuko Shimizu and Min Zhang Modifying by David Dolan and Ana Nicolaci da Costa

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