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JinkoSolar, REC challenge validity of Hanwha Q Cells patent

Rooftop solar installation. Source: REC Solar ASA. License: All rights reserved

June 7 (Renewables Now) - Solar module manufacturers JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS) of China and REC Group of Norway have jointly filed a petition to challenge the validity of a patent asserted against them in litigation brought by rival Hanwha Q Cells.

In March, subsidiaries of the Korean photovoltaics (PV) maker in the US and Germany took legal actions against JinkoSolar, REC and a third company, Longi Solar, over the unlawful import and sale of patent-infringing PV cells and modules. Eventually, Hanwha Q Cells also filed patent infringement complaints in Australia against the two Chinese companies.

On June 3, JinkoSolar and REC jointly filed with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) a petition for inter partes review (IPR) of Hanwha Q Cells’ patent. It indicates that some claims of the patent “are invalid as anticipated by, or obvious in view of, the prior art.” The move comes after Long Solar separately filed a similar petition in May.

"Hanwha Q CELLS' assertion of the '215 patent against its competitors is technically unfounded and threatens to stifle the industry's transition to grid parity solar, driving up electricity prices for homeowners, businesses, and utilities," said Kangping Chen, CEO of JinkoSolar.

Steve O'Neil, CEO of REC Group, commented that Hanwha Q Cells is looking to misuse the patent system. “We believe that the '215 patent is invalid and Hanwha Q CELLS' allegations of infringement are unjustified,” he added.

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