Three Lessons from the Conviction of Sinovel Wind Group for Trade Secret Theft

Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. was convicted last month of stealing software from AMSC Inc., a U.S.-based company formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. The theft nearly destroyed the American company, which lost substantial service contracts after the theft and began to shed market capitalization, jobs, and facilities as a result. With the conviction, Sinovel now awaits sentencing, scheduled for June 2018, which could include more than $1 billion in fines and a multi-year probationary period. Continue reading Three Lessons from the Conviction of Sinovel Wind Group for Trade Secret Theft

EV Charging Company to Rival: Your Patents Aren’t Valid

  • In a battle over EV charging station technology, a patent defendant has argued that the plaintiff’s technology is ineligible for patent protection and that the entire case should be dismissed from federal court.

Electric vehicle (EV) charging station provider SemaConnect, Inc., has requested that a patent lawsuit be dismissed because the asserted patents are invalid. The patents are owned by rival ChargePoint, Inc., an EV charging company that appears to have brought the lawsuit against SemaConnect after being shut out of a major installation contract. The contract was offered by Electrify America, the VW subsidiary that has pledged to spend $2 billion on EV infrastructure. You can find our earlier post on this case here. Continue reading EV Charging Company to Rival: Your Patents Aren’t Valid

Solar Panel Trade Case Concludes with Tariff Announcement

This post was co-authored by Brad Thompson and Justus Getty.

  • The Suniva / SolarWorld trade case concluded this week with the announcement of import relief to domestic solar panel manufacturers in the form of tariffs to be applied to solar panel imports.
  • The decision, which was heavily contested by stakeholders in the solar industry, was somewhat of a mixed bag for all sides: although some tariffs were imposed, the tariffs did not go as far as Suniva and SolarWorld had requested.

Continue reading Solar Panel Trade Case Concludes with Tariff Announcement

EV Charging Station Company Loses Partnership Bid, Sues Winner

  • As part of its diesel emissions settlement with the U.S. government, Volkswagen Group of America has pledged to spend $2 billion on electric vehicle infrastructure and education.
  • A provider of electric vehicle charging stations appears to have lost its bid to partner with Volkswagen and promptly sued the winning bidder for patent infringement.

ChargePoint, Inc., a leading provider of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations, appears to have lost a bid to provide charging stations to Electrify America and promptly sued the winning bidder for patent infringement. In a lawsuit filed December 15, 2017, in federal court in Maryland, ChargePoint accused SemaConnect, Inc. of infringing four patents directed to networked charging station technology. Continue reading EV Charging Station Company Loses Partnership Bid, Sues Winner

Vestas Adds Patent Infringement Claim Against GE in Wind Turbine Litigation

  • Vestas has added its own claims of patent infringement against GE in ongoing litigation between the wind turbine manufacturers, accusing GE of infringing a pair of Vestas patents directed to technology for connecting and controlling wind turbines on a power grid.

In a court filing on December 15, 2017, Danish-based Vestas Wind Systems A/S raised the stakes in its ongoing patent litigation with General Electric by asserting its own claims of patent infringement. Continue reading Vestas Adds Patent Infringement Claim Against GE in Wind Turbine Litigation

IP Profile: Solar Panel Mounting Company Sollega, Inc.

This post was co-authored by Justus Getty and Nicole Candelori.

  • Sollega, a provider of modular solar panel mounting solutions, has taken steps to protect its intellectual property. Those steps include federally registering a trademark and obtaining a U.S. Patent.

San Francisco-based Sollega, Inc., specializes in the design and manufacturing of ballasted commercial flat-roof and ground mount racking solutions. While much of the focus of the solar industry has been on the rapidly decreasing prices for solar panels (for example, see our earlier post here), Sollega is looking to reduce the cost associated with a different part of the solar equation: installation. Sollega states that its modular mounting racks with pre-set inclines offer the potential to more quickly install solar panels and thus achieve substantial savings in labor costs. Continue reading IP Profile: Solar Panel Mounting Company Sollega, Inc.

Trump Administration Set to Decide Suniva’s Solar Panel ITC Trade Case

This post was co-authored by Brad Thompson and Justus Getty.

  • It is anticipated that by no later than the end of January 2018 the Trump administration will decide what, if any, import relief will be granted to the domestic solar panel manufacturing industry.
  • Suniva petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) for import relief in May 2017, claiming domestic solar panel manufacturers have been seriously injured by increased solar panel imports.
  • The four ITC Commissioners unanimously agreed on September 22, 2017, that imported solar panels have caused “serious injury” to domestic manufacturers, and have now made varying remedy proposals to President Trump for his approval.
  • The potential impact on the domestic solar industry could be significant or relatively minor; however, the mere uncertainty around what the Trump administration might do has caused a “spike” in demand for solar panels as companies have stockpiled panels ahead of a potential imposition of tariffs or quotas on solar panel imports.

A widely followed trade case is set to reach its conclusion by the end of January, 2018, with an announcement from the Trump administration of what, if any, actions will be taken to protect the U.S. domestic solar panel industry. The administration has received recommendations from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), triggering a two-month window for the President to take action. (The administration also could act earlier or grant itself additional time to hand down a final decision). The case was originally brought before the ITC this past May by domestic solar panel manufacturers Suniva, Inc., who was then joined by SolarWorld Americas Inc. in the case. Continue reading Trump Administration Set to Decide Suniva’s Solar Panel ITC Trade Case

Why Change Wind Corporation Cannot Register Its Helical Turbine as a Trademark

  • A helical wind turbine design by Change Wind Corporation was denied registration as a trademark because the design was deemed functional rather than ornamental, and Change Wind was unable to prove that customers knew the source of the design.
  • It can be difficult to register product designs as trademarks once the features of the design are the subject of a patent application.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied an application by wind turbine manufacturer Change Wind Corporation to register its helical turbine design (shown below) as a trademark. The denial likely ends Change Wind’s quest to be granted exclusive rights to the registration of this specific design. Continue reading Why Change Wind Corporation Cannot Register Its Helical Turbine as a Trademark

Dispute Over Solar Inverter Technology Heads to Federal Court

  • A manufacturer of solar inverter components, MAGicALL, has accused its former customer Advanced Energy Industries of stealing trade secrets and violating non-disclosure agreements relating to MAGicALL’s product designs.
  • Trade secret law protects companies against the misappropriation of valuable business information that has been subject to reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy.

California’s MAGicALL, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. (“AEI”) and several affiliated companies alleging breach of non-disclosure agreements and theft of trade secrets relating to MAGicALL’s solar inverter technology. In a Complaint filed in federal court in Colorado this month, MAGicALL requested that the court issue an injunction preventing AEI from continuing to sell any products containing MAGicALL’s proprietary technology, and award monetary damages in an amount yet to be determined. Continue reading Dispute Over Solar Inverter Technology Heads to Federal Court

What Patents Did Bankrupt SunEdison Sell to China’s GLC-Poly Energy?

  • As a result of bankruptcy, SunEdison will sell a portfolio of more than 100 patents and 200 patent applications to China’s GLC-Poly Energy Holdings.
  • The bulk of the portfolio is directed to SunEdison’s proprietary materials and processes for manufacturing a solar panel.
  • Transfer of ownership to GLC-Poly may complicate business for former SunEdison supplier SMP Ltd.

Last month the judge overseeing SunEdison Inc.’s bankruptcy denied an effort by South Korea-based SMP Ltd. to prevent the sale of SunEdison’s patent portfolio. SMP, which was formed as a joint venture between Samsung and SunEdison to supply key elements of SunEdison’s solar panels, had argued that Korean law prevented SunEdison from terminating a supply and license agreement. If SMP prevailed on this argument, then SunEdison would have been unable to terminate the supply and license agreement, and as a result would have been prevented from selling its patent portfolio. Continue reading What Patents Did Bankrupt SunEdison Sell to China’s GLC-Poly Energy?