This week marks the one-year anniversary of our first post to the Duane Morris Green IP Blog, so we thought we’d mark the occasion with a look back at our top posts of the first year. This list was developed subjectively from a loose combination of reader feedback, page traffic, and republication. Continue reading Top Posts from Our First Year of the Duane Morris Green IP Blog
- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found three patents directed to solar panel mounting technology to have defective priority claims. As a result, the allegedly-infringing products sold by EcoFasten and SunModo pre-date the patents, rendering the patents invalid.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently affirmed the invalidity of three patents directed to solar panel mounting technology. The patents are owned by solar installer D Three Enterprises LLC, and were asserted in federal court against SunModo Corporation and Rillito River Solar LLC, which does business under the name EcoFasten Solar. Now that the three patents have been affirmed as invalid, D Three’s lawsuit against SunModo and EcoFasten will potentially be dismissed. Continue reading Solar Panel Mounting Patents Found Invalid, Potentially Saving Defendants EcoFasten and SunModo
- ArcelorMittal has challenged the validity of a solar tracking patent owned by Array Technologies in a petition filed with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board
- Array Technologies had previously brought infringement claims against a solar tracking company called Exosun. ArcelorMittal later bought assets from Exosun, which may have prompted ArcelorMittal’s challenge to the Array Technolgies patent.
International steel and manufacturing giant ArcelorMittal filed a petition in March at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board challenging the validity of a solar tracking patent owned by Array Technologies, Inc. If successful, ArcelorMittal’s challenge could result in the cancellation of a significant portion of Array Technologies’ U.S. Patent No. 8,459,249. Continue reading Solar Tracking Patent Disputed: ArcelorMittal v. Array Technologies
- A pair of manufacturers are engaged in litigation over the specific design of a solar lightbulb.
- Design patents are used to protect the appearance of a product rather than the product’s functionality.
The Gerson Companies, a home décor products importer based in Olathe, Kansas, has sued Quanxin Lighting and Electrical (USA) Inc. in federal court in Delaware last month for infringement of a design patent. The patent is directed to the design of a solar-powered lightbulb. In the lawsuit, Gerson has requested monetary damages and an injunction preventing Quanxin USA’s continued sale of the allegedly infringing products. Continue reading Design of Solar-Powered Lightbulbs at Issue in New Litigation
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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?
- 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.