- Strategic Solar Energy and Affordable Solar Installation have settled a patent infringement lawsuit.
- Patents may provide valuable leverage against market competitors. Parties infringing a patent may face a court injunction against further infringing activities and monetary damages.
Arizona’s Strategic Solar Energy LLC has settled its patent infringement lawsuit against New Mexico-based competitor Affordable Solar Installation, Inc. Strategic, which designs and installs a solar panel canopy branded as the PowerParasol® canopy (see https://powerparasol.com/), filed the lawsuit in December 2016 to assert infringement of its U.S. Patent Number 8,825,500 (the ‘500 Patent). In a court order dated October 13, 2017, the case was dismissed due to a settlement between the parties.
Strategic is the owner of two patents and one patent application that cover aspects of its PowerParasol® canopy invention. The ‘500 Patent that was asserted against Affordable is directed to a solar panel canopy (formally called a “solar panel holding structure” or “SPHS”) as pictured in some of the patent figures below:
Figures 1 and 4A of the ‘500 Patent.
These canopies are designed to provide shade and dappled light to spaces below, and are typically installed above public spaces such as parking lots or courtyards.
Affordable appears to have drawn Strategic’s ire by winning a contract to build a solar panel canopy over the parking lot of a Fry’s Food and Drug in Goodyear, Arizona. Strategic had previously installed canopies at several Fry’s locations, and greeted its new competitor with a letter asserting infringement of the ‘500 Patent. The letter demanded that Affordable cease-and-desist from its plans to build the canopy. Strategic follow that letter with this lawsuit.
Although the terms of the settlement do not appear to have been made public, Strategic’s actions demonstrate the valuable leverage that maybe gained over market competitors by seeking patent protection. A patent holder such as Strategic can bring a patent suit and request that the court award: (1) monetary damages, (2) an injunction against further infringing behavior, (3) tripled damages in the case of willful infringement, and (4) attorney’s fees. The alleged infringer must therefore consider not only the possibility that it will suffer monetary losses in court, but that it may be prevented by court order from performing this type of work in the future.
Post originally drafted 10/17/2017.