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Bolivia's lithium riches (Luca Galuzzi/Creative Commons)

Two European industrial giants have settled one of the biggest, most arcane and potentially lucrative patent disputes in lithium-ion batteries. As a result, Belgium's Umicore — the loser — can legally export its battery formulation into the United States, but has had to buy a license and pay royalties to Germany's BASF.

Why now? By settling, the companies clear away their bitter, years-long dispute on the cusp of what many experts believe is a coming global boom in the sale of mainstream electric cars. This makes way for the formulation in dispute — known as NMC — to go to battle with the other major lithium-ion battery type racing for domination of this expected new electric car age.

This rival, used by Elon Musk's Tesla, is known as NCA, which Panasonic makes and he puts in all his cars. Most other carmakers use NMC, including GM and BMW. Many experts think one will win command over most of the coming market, with the potential for billions of dollars in profit. Most of the betting is on NMC.

BASF — which sued for patent infringement along with Argonne National Laboratory, the inventor of NMC — said that, as a result of the settlement, it is withdrawing its US federal lawsuit. Tim Weekes, a spokesman for Umicore, told me that the decision "provides clarity for our customers, and on balance a settlement was in the interests of all parties."

For battery fanatics, the case revolved around the obscure atomic-scale features of the NMC cathode, which I wrote about when the case was filed in 2015.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Technology

TikTok drives new nostalgia economy

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Older brands, trends and technologies are making a comeback as younger consumers desperately chase slower, less chaotic times.

The big picture: TikTok's algorithm makes it easy for flashback items to resurface and quickly go viral both on its platform and eventually on other social networks.

Updated 6 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

8 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.