Kyocera sues Hanwha Q CELLS Japan over patent infringement

Japanese electronics company Kyocera has today filed a lawsuit against Hanwha Q CELLS Japan at the Tokyo District Court, Japan, amid claims that the Japanese subsidiary of Germany’s Hanwha Q CELLS infringed the patent of Kyocera’s three-busbar electrode structure for solar modules.

Kyocera, based in Kyoto, Japan, released a statement today revealing that the lawsuit had been brought after direct negotiations with Hanwha Q CELLS Japan broke down.

The lawsuit pertains to the technology Kyocera has developed in order to increase the efficiency of its solar modules. Patented in March 2012, the three-busbar electrode structure has been a key component of the company’s solar cells since it first set an energy conversion world record for efficiency in 2004.

Today’s lawsuit is the direct result of allegations by Kyocera that Hanwha Q CELLS Japan has infringed the patent and replicated the technology in its own solar modules. In the statement released by Kyocera, the company said that it is also in direct negotiations with other parties regarding the patent, hinting that there may be more lawsuits to follow.

Back in 2012 when the patent was first announced, a Kyocera spokesperson said: "We believe that roughly 60% of the modules in the crystalline solar cell market use three-busbar electrodes, and that many manufacturers will be affected by the patent acquisition." The patent applies to crystalline modules made or sold in Japan, and crystalline modules made in Japan and sold elsewhere.

Germany’s Q CELLS was purchased by South Korea’s Hanwha Group in 2012 after becoming insolvent. In a recent interview with pv magazine, Hanwha Q CELLS CEO Charles Kim revealed that the firm¬ís strategy was to focus mainly on the solar PV markets of Europe and Japan. Hanwha Q CELLS has so far been unavailable for comment on the proceedings.