- JinkoSolar, LONGi and REC Group have been accused of infringing on PERC design by Hanwha Q Cells.
- Hanwha Q Cells is seeking to bar these companies from importing their PERC cells into the U.S. market.
Yesterday the U.S. International Trade Commission announced that it has launched a trade investigation into solar module manufacturers JinkoSolar, LONGi and REC Group for infringing on a specific form of Passivated Emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) design owned by Hanwha Q Cells.
Hanwha Q Cells has filed a lawsuit against the three manufacturers in the US and Germany.
The ITC investigation is being launched under the auspices of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which governs both patent infringement and unfair trade. Hanwha Q Cells is seeking to bar these companies from importing their PERC cells into the U.S. market.
The central claim that will be investigated is whether or not Jinko, LONGi and REC infringed on Q.Cells passivation technology, which is part of its Q.ANTUM cell design.
Q.ANTUM PERC has become the most widely adopted high-efficiency cell design globally. PERC can boost cell efficiencies at a minimal cost without having to overhaul the entire cell architecture, as is required with Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) and other high-efficiency designs.
Hanwha has long maintained that Q.ANTUM is substantially different from other PERC designs, but there is significant disagreement about the patents in question under which Hanwha is filing the suits and investigation. LONGi has stated that its cells are not subject to these patents, which they say are based on Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) processes, as they use a Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD) process for passivation.
However, Hanwha maintains that the patent covers both ALD and PECVD processes, and that the resulting cell design is what is covered.
Rec Group has responded by saying that it ‘fully respects intellectual property rights and takes these allegations very seriously. REC Group is investigating the matter and working closely with its legal counsel, and will take all necessary steps to rigorously defend itself, its customers and its partners’.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal