Module manufacturer tips China ruling to have major bearing on Australian market


China’s Re-examination and Invalidation Department of the Patent Office earlier this month upheld the validity of two of Hanwha Q-Cells’ patents (‘971 and ‘407), related to high-efficiency silicon solar cells, following a challenge by Chinese PV panel maker Longi Solar.

The China decision comes after Hanwha Q-Cells had similar success in Germany where the company had launched a suit against Longhi and fellow competitors Jinko Solar and REC Solar citing patent infringements over the same technology (‘971, equivalent European patent EP  2 220 689). In June, the Düsseldorf Regional Court ruled in favour of Hanwha Q-Cells, issuing orders prohibiting the sale and import of the infringing products.

Hanwha Q-Cells Australia’s head of business, Peter Bae, welcomed the China ruling and said it and the German decision could have a bearing in Australia where Hanwha Q-Cells has also filed patent infringement proceedings against Longi, Jinko and REC.

“Protection of intellectual property rights and strict compliance with IP laws are more important than ever for our fast-evolving solar industry,” Bae said.

“We welcome the recent decisions by the German courts and the Chinese Patent Office and are confident that we will witness a similar outcome here in Australia.”

Hanwha Q-Cells’ Australian complaints, lodged in March 2019, allege that Longi, Jinko and REC are importing and selling solar cells and modules that infringe the company’s Australian patent rights. In particular, the complaints allege that Longi, Jinko and REC have incorporated Hanwha Q-Cells‘ patented passivation technology – which plays a key role in improving the efficiency and performance of solar cells – into their products.

“We must uphold fair competition throughout the industry,” Bae said.

“Q Cells is internationally recognised for the strength of its R&D programs. Protecting the company’s intellectual property rights is a prerequisite for ensuring that the next generation of technological innovations continues to stem from genuine, long-term R&D efforts.”

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