Heraeus’ IP patent case struck down in Taiwan


A long-running patent infringement case filed in 2015 by German silver paste specialist Heraeus has been dismissed this week by the Taiwanese Intellectual Property Court.

The decision to throw out the case has been met with dismay by Heraeus, which has confirmed it is considering its options to appeal.

The decision relates to a complaint lodged by Heraeus on June 10 2015 against Giga Solar, which was accused of infringing Heraeus’ patent-in-suit with its tellurium containing glass frit as a central technical component in the production of metallization pastes.

Since June 2015, Heraeus had been confident that the courts would find in its favour given the occurrence of several positive decisions directly and indirectly yielded to Heraeus on this matter. Namely, the Chinese Patent Reexamination Board of the State Intellectual Property Office confirmed the validity of the Heraeus patent in China, and in 2016 the Taiwan IP Court threw out arguments put forth by Giga Solar questioning the validity of Heraeus’ patent-in-suit.

Later in 2016, an anti-trust complaint by Giga Solar was also dismissed by the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission, while just last week the Taiwanese IP office confirmed the validity of Heraeus’ Taiwanese patent.

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However, these decisions in favor of Heraeus ultimately had no bearing on the lawsuit, prompting Heraeus Photovoltaics president Andreas Liebheit to warn that such decisions could have a significantly negative impact on the pace of innovation in the solar industry.

“While we consider our options to appeal, it is important to note that ruling like these send a chilling message to companies throughout our industry who invest significant capital on R&D efforts,” Liebheit said. “Without appropriate protection for legitimate patents and IP, the collective result is less incentive to make necessary investments across the PV industry.”

Liebheit concluded that Heraeus would not be deterred by the ruling, pledging to double-down on its commitment to industry leadership and innovation. “To deliver the top quality and efficiency gains our customers need, we will continue to invest, we will continue to rapidly innovate, and we will rigorously protect and defend our IP,” he said.

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