Germany — Hanwha Q CELLS confirms that the Regional Court of Düsseldorf in Germany has upheld the company’s patent infringement complaint filed on March 4, 2019, finding that JinkoSolar, REC Solar, and LONGi Solar unlawfully incorporated Q CELLS’ patented technology into specific solar products of the respective brands.
The lawsuit charged that the three companies have infringed the German part of European Patent EP 2 220 689 (‘689 patent), which protects a unique passivation technology also used in Q.ANTUM – a technology for significantly increasing the efficiency of solar cells.
On June 16, the German Court concluded that JinkoSolar, REC, and LONGi Solar have distributed certain solar modules in Germany that contain solar cells that use technology covered by the ‘689 patent, without a prior license agreement with Q CELLS. These companies have therefore infringed Q CELLS’ intellectual property rights by offering, selling and importing infringing products into Germany.
As a result of the Court’s decision, Q CELLS is granted a right to enforce the injunction provisionally, including restrictions on import and sales of the infringing products of the respective brands.
The decision of the court is provisionally enforceable upon Q CELLS provision of a security. The court ruled that the accused companies are legally obliged to take measures to recall the patent-infringing products distributed since January 30, 2019 from the distribution channels. In addition, the court granted a claim for destruction of patent-infringing products in possession of JinkoSolar, REC and LONGi Solar.
Q CELLS began researching PERC-based cell technologies back in 2008 which led to the development of its Q.ANTUM technology that uses this patent-protected passivation technology. Q CELLS began mass-manufacturing Q.ANTUM solar cells as early as 2012, and has since produced more than 3 billion such solar cells globally. Q.ANTUM technology marks one of many technological milestones reached by Q CELLS through its continuously extensive investment in genuine technology research and product development.
Dr. Daniel Jeong, CTO of Q CELLS, said: “We are pleased that the Regional Court of Düsseldorf has confirmed what we knew to be true all along. As we eagerly stressed when we filed the lawsuit in 2019, intellectual property laws exist to incentivize innovation and protect those innovations from being unfairly used. The protection of intellectual property rights is of foremost importance for our fast-evolving solar industry to ensure continued development of breakthrough technological innovations.”
“Q CELLS stands proud of our legacy of innovation and leadership in the photovoltaic industry. We took these actions in good faith to protect our property rights and uphold industry confidence that time- and capital-intensive R&D efforts will be protected. Without enforcement of IP laws, the solar industry cannot meet the high expectations commercial customers have around the world of PV as an affordable, clean and – most of all – reliable source of energy. As a total energy solutions provider Q CELLS values solar’s reputation and importance in the world far too much to not vigorously defend it.”
Jeong added, “Also, we cannot ignore the possibility that the accused companies might have applied the ‘689 patent to their other products. Q CELLS will continue to take all necessary actions including direct litigations as well as industry dialogues, if and when our rights are violated by another party in other regions. With regards to the recent U.S. ITC decision on patent infringement complaint, Q CELLS will bring the case to the court and make an appeal.”
While opposition proceedings challenging the patent’s validity are still pending before the European Patent Office (EPO), the Düsseldorf Court found EP’689 infringed by the solar products of LONGi Solar, JinkoSolar and REC. The decisions can be appealed to the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf.
As a next step following the decision of the Regional Court in Düsseldorf, Q CELLS will actively consider all possible pathways forward in order to devise meaningful solutions in the best interests of the company as well as a healthy innovation landscape in the solar industry.