From pv magazine Germany
South Korea-based solar module manufacturer Hanwha Q-Cells announced that the Dutch Court of Appeal in The Hague has upheld the cross-border injunction against Longi Netherlands Trading B.V. that was previously imposed in early October by the District Court of Rotterdam. According to the preliminary decision of the Court of Appeal, the list of countries in which Longi is not allowed to sell the solar modules affected by the patent infringement proceedings has been expanded from nine to eleven.
The injunction provides that Longi Solar's Dutch subsidiary may not encourage customers to infringe the EP ‘689 patent in countries where Hanwha Solutions Corporation is the registered owner. Longi is not allowed to offer for sale, sell or distribute the affected solar modules in Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Austria, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. In addition, Longi is to send a list of its customers in these countries to Hanwha Q-Cells.
Moreover, the Court of Appeal has ordered Longi NL to send recall letters to customers. According to Hanwha Q-Cells, they will be asked to return the modules affected by the patent dispute. The judges in The Hague ruled that Longi NL not only acted unlawfully in inciting customers to infringe the patent, but also directly infringed the EP ‘689 patent itself, as it sold its solar modules in countries where the patent was declared valid.
According to Hanwha Q-Cells, the Longi solar module types Hi-M03, Hi-M03m, Hi-M04, Hi-M04m, Hi-M05 and Hi-M05m could infringe the patent concerned and are subject to immediate reimbursement and must be returned to Longi NL. However, the solar module types HIH, HIB and HIBD will be excluded.
Hanwha Q-Cells reports that if Longi does not comply with the requirements, the verdict provides for a daily fine. The written list of customers and the recall letters to the customers will also have to be sent within two weeks after the judgment.
pv magazine asked Longi Solar for a statement on the court's decision. We will add the company's response as soon as we have it.
The patent dispute between the photovoltaic manufacturers dates back to spring 2019. In March 2019, Hanwha Q-Cells filed a patent infringement lawsuit in both Germany and the United States, and shortly afterward in Australia, against Longi, REC and a third defendent, JinkoSolar. According to the company, its three competitors have illegally used its patented technology in their products. In June 2020, the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany ruled in favor of Hanwha Q-Cells in the first instance. REC and Longi Solar appealed against the decision, whereupon Hanwha Q-Cells initiated the preliminary enforcement of the decision. In Hanwha Q-Cells' view, Longi Solar and REC did not take sufficient measures to comply with the court-ordered recall obligation, which is why Hanwha applied for a fine.
That legal dispute, by which Hanwha Q-Cells wants to prevent the distribution of patent-infringing solar modules in European third-party countries, has been swelling since the summer of 2021. At that time, a court in Rotterdam ordered the seizure of a delivery of Longi solar modules.
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