Solar patent battle spreads to Australia

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A legal stoush that has been unfolding in Europe and the US between some of the world’s biggest solar PV manufacturers has reached Australian shores, with the filing of patent infringement complaints in Australia’s Federal Court.

The Australian arm of Korea-based Hanwha Q Cells said on Wednesday that it has filed the complaints against JinkoSolar and LONGi Solar, alleging that the China-based rivals had used its patented passivation technology, which boosts solar cell efficiency, without authorisation.

It says that it began began manufacturing its Q.ANTUM solar cells using this patented passivation technology in 2012 and has produced more than 2.5 billion such cells globally.

The Australian lawsuit joins three others also initiated by Hanwha: one in Germany against Jinko and Norway’s REC, and two more against the same companies plus Longi in the US.

The aim of all three claims is to get a court order to stop the rival solar companies from importing, marketing, and selling the alleged infringing products in the corresponding markets – although in Germany it goes one step further and calls for the recall and destruction of alleged infringing products.

“Intellectual property laws exist to incentivise innovation and protect innovations from being unfairly used, and we will vigorously defend our technology from infringement,” said Hanwha Q-Cell CEO Hee Cheul Kim, in a statement.

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