Fremont, California-based module maker Solaria has accused Canadian Solar of infringing three of its shingled cell-related patents after it said it gave its rival insights into its HDM shingling technology ahead of a proposed licensing deal which never came to pass.
Solaria on March 31 lodged a patent infringement claim against Canadian Solar related to U.S. patent number 10,522,707, which concerns the process of separating photovoltaic strips from solar cells for use in shingled modules. That claim was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the northern district of California, and sought damages. The claim was amended by Solaria on June 3 to add a second patent – number 10,651,333 – which related to the same technical process.
On Tuesday, Solaria took its complaint to the ITC, adding a third patent – 10,763,388 – which concerns technology in shingled modules that have a plurality of strings formed by overlapping PV strips. Solaria is asking the ITC for an exclusion order to prevent the sale in the U.S. of Canadian Solar products it says infringe its patents.
A press release issued by Solaria on Wednesday stated the company expected the ITC to open an investigation into the matter within 30 days.
Solaria said it gave Canadian Solar information about its shingling process in 2014, ahead of a proposed licensing deal between the two companies, with a non-disclosure agreement signed in June 2015. The U.S. company said Canadian Solar walked away from the deal and shortly afterwards began marketing its HiDM shingled modules.
Paperwork filed in the amended patent infringement claim lodged in the northern California district court stated: “Solaria introduced [its patented] HDM shingling [technology] to Canadian Solar in 2014 when representatives of Canadian Solar evaluated Solaria’s shingling technology for a potential licensing deal. Prior to that time, Canadian Solar had only manufactured conventional solar modules and had no knowledge of, or experience in, shingled module technology … Following collaborations between the two companies, including multiple presentations by Solaria regarding its proprietary technology and business strategies, and a tour of Solaria’s R&D facility in Fremont, Canadian Solar professed not to have an interest in pursuing the technology and no further discussions took place.”
The document lodged with the court continued: “Solaria is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that contrary to Canadian Solar’s indication to Solaria, it did have an interest in pursuing the technology; it just had no interest in paying Solaria for it.”
While Canadian Solar has not issued a statement responding to the newest claims, in April it said it “believes that the claims in Solaria’s complaint are meritless and unfounded. Canadian Solar is working closely with its legal counsel and will vigorously defend against the claims made by Solaria.”
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