Hanwha Q-Cells moves to enforce recall of products found to infringe IP in Germany


From pv magazine global

With Hanwha Q-Cells securing a ruling in Düsseldorf that Chinese competitors had infringed one of its patents on their PV module technology, the Korean manufacturer yesterday moved to enforce the recall of all such products sold in the German solar market since January last year.

In June, the regional court of Düsseldorf agreed with Q-Cells’ claim that rivals Jinko Solar, Longi Solar and REC Group had infringed its EP 2 220 689 European patent, which relates to passivation technology the Chinese firms had claimed was generic.

On Sept. 28, the German court commenced regulatory action to compell Jinko, Longi and REC to recall the relevant products and destroy any still in their possession, Hanwha today said it had filed for administrative proceedings related to the orders and claimed violations by Jinko Solar.

The Korean company announced its intent to expand its patent claim to other European territories, citing France and Spain as examples, and said it planned to file for damages against Jinko and reserved the right to take further action against Longi and REC.

“Jinko’s failure to comply with the law and the court ruling leaves Q-Cells with no choice but to take further action against Jinko, which does not respect the value of intellectual property rights,” said Hanwha chief technology officer Daniel Jeong.

The Hanwha representative said intellectual property protection is more important than ever in the rapidly developing solar industry, and added: “We must maintain fair competition in our industry. This is a prerequisite for the next generation of technological innovations to emerge from genuine, long-term efforts in research and development. Q-Cells is taking these measures against Jinko in order to vigorously protect our intellectual property and to exercise the rights granted to us by the Düsseldorf Regional Court.”

The three manufacturers have appealed against the Düsseldorf ruling made on June 16, with the appeal yet to be heard. There is also a challenge against the validity of the Hanwha patent concerned which is pending at the European Patent Office.

pv magazine has approached Jinko Solar for comment.

Hanwha pursued similar patent claims in the U.S. and Australia last year, against the same defendants in the former case and also against distributors Sol Distribution and Baywa re Solar Systems in Australia. The Australian legal action is unusual in that distributors have been brought into the fray.

Jinko announced the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in June decided it had not infringed Hanwha’s U.S. patent. The Chinese company said an investigation into the validity of the patent had been opened by the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board in December. Hanwha announced an intent to appeal the ITC decision at the time.

REC Group in May said it had opened its own patent claim against Hanwha technology in China, in a case it said related to “split-cell and junction box technology.”

Edited by Jonathan Gifford

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