Chinese PV module manufacturer Longi Solar published an update on Tuesday regarding the ongoing patent infringement proceedings with competitor Hanwha Q-Cells. In March 2019, the South Korean photovoltaic company filed lawsuits against Longi Solar, Jinko Solar and REC in Germany, the USA and Australia.
These manufacturers are said to have infringed existing patents held by Hanwha Q-Cells for its passivated solar cell technology. The defendant photovoltaic manufacturers claim the validity of their patents which are currently being reviewed by the European, Chinese, and US patent offices.
While Hanwha Q-Cells' patent infringement lawsuit was rejected in the USA, the judges at the Düsseldorf Regional Court in Germany ruled in the first instance in favor of the South Korean photovoltaic manufacturer. Longi Solar appealed this ruling and has now said that an appeal hearing is scheduled for April 22, 2021.
According to Longi Solar, in October of last year, the European Patent Office published a notice stating that “if the current applications are retained, the patent would be revoked in full”. In the event of a complete revocation, Longi Solar assumes that the patent infringement proceedings would be suspended “with a very high degree of probability”. However, the reference is only an important indicator and not binding for the decision of the European Patent Office.
The Chinese patent office, where the validity of the patent is also being reviewed, has only made a provisional decision so far, according to which the patent CN 1091952971 should be maintained to a limited extent. Only in the USA were parts of the patent US 9,893,215 finally revoked in December 2020, as Longi Solar reported. There is still no decision on the proceedings in Australia.
REC also commented on the ongoing patent dispute on Wednesday. The Chinese Patent Office has confirmed the validity of its patent for the technology with split cells and junction boxes. The manufacturer produces these at its plant in Singapore. REC also filed a patent infringement suit against a Chinese Hanwha subsidiary in February 2020 to protect its own patents. The Chinese patent office published its decision on January 4, 2021, after Hanwha Q-Cells filed a counterclaim to examine the validity of the REC patents. REC has also filed a lawsuit against its South Korean competitor in the USA. This took place in November 2020 at the US District Court in Delaware.
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