Chinese court upholds laminator patent


A Chinese court has initially ruled in favor of German company Robert Bürkle GmbH in an intellectual property dispute over solar laminator technology.

The Intermediate People’s Court in Hefei, China ruled that a tool produced by Chinese company Qinhuangdao Visual Automation Co., Ltd. was in conflict with rights granted under patent CN 101314270 B, held by Bürkle and relating to its “multi-level multi daylight” laminator technology.

According to Bürkle, the court’s decision is not yet final, and Visual Automation has already filed a complaint against it. The German company said, however, that it is confident these proceedings will also be decided in its favor.

The ruling will require Visual Automation to cease manufacturing the multi-level laminators and to cease offering them for sale in China. The company will also be required to destroy all existing products that conflict with the patent, including semi-finished products and the molds used to manufacture infringing products. “The court decision on the patent confirms the leading role of Bürkle,” read a statement from the company. “High production volumes combined with high production efficiency are the core features of Bürkle lamination technology.”

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Intellectual property has been a contentious issue for the solar industry in recent years, with several sets of legal proceedings ongoing both in the upstream manufacturing segment, and with the module and inverter end products.

Many European equipment suppliers have struggled to gain market share in China, where the bulk of PV manufacturing is now located, and local producers have been able to offer lower-cost products. This year, however, with manufacturing outside of Asia looking set for a comeback, the situation seems better for European suppliers.

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