REC Group confirms patent action against Hanwha in China

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From pv magazine global

Beijing-owned solar manufacturer REC Group has confirmed it filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Korean rival Hanwha Q Cells’ Qidong business unit in February.

The Norway-based solar module manufacturing business, which is owned by Chinese state-owned enterprise, today moved to confirm rumours it had filed the patent claim in China, regarding what it described as its in-house split-cell and junction box technology.

REC Group said its case was accepted by the Suzhou IP Tribunal on April 8 and served on Hanwha Q Cells (Qidong) on April 20.

The company said the technology at issue had formed part of the high-efficiency panels it has been manufacturing at its Singapore facility for “more than half a decade.” The REC TwinPeak module series was released in 2015 and deployed both half-cut cells and a split module design. Being the first to adopt this and a number of other innovations, it was awarded an Intersolar Award in that.

Hanwha Q Cells operates a production facility in Nantong city in the Jiangsu province of China. The manufacturing site is the former Solarfun facility – in which Hanwha first acquired a 50% stake in 2010. It is understood that Hanwha carried out a modernisation program at the facility drawing on Q Cells’ engineering expertise from Germany.

In a press release issued today by REC Group confirming the lawsuit, chief technology officer Shankar G Sridhara said: “REC Group’s R&D resources, time and investments have significantly contributed to set new industry standards. REC Group filed this action to protect its intellectual property, investments and reputation, as well as to encourage more innovation in the industry. The more solar companies invest in developing groundbreaking innovation, the more improvement we will see in efficiencies and costs per kilowatt-hour and achieving full access to renewable energy generation and consumption for communities.

“As a global, pioneering solar energy company, we champion intellectual property rights and fair competition. This also means that we will rigorously defend our rights when they are being violated.”

While highly innovative in 2015, the half-cut cell and dual module technology deployed in the TwinPeak series is now commonly used by a host of manufacturers in their high efficiency module series. It stands to be seen whether REC will be motivated to take action against others.