The U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) has issued a final determination in favor of JinkoSolar (“Jinko”), which concludes that Jinko’s products do not infringe the patent asserted by South Korean PV module maker Hanwha Q Cell (“Hanwha”).
The dispute between Hanwha Q Cell and Jinko
Hanwha launched ITC Investigation No. 337-TA-1151 against Jinko, LONGi Solar, and the Norway-based REC Group, of which the parent company is ChemChina, a chemical conglomerate owned by People’s Republic of China.
The complaint states that the companies infringe U.S. Patent No. 9,893,215, which involves Hanwha’s patented solar cell passivation technology. The complaint further requests the ITC to issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.
According to pv magazine, Jinko and REC Group submitted a claim contesting Hanwha’s patent assertion on the technology. The companies said that Hanwha has no legal grounds for the complaint, citing “prior art” as the reason: an invention is already known and made available to the public.
The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in the 1151 Investigation ruled in favor of JinkoSolar. ALJ MaryJoan McNamara issued an initial determination granting JinkoSolar's motion for summary determination of non-infringement.
The ITC will review the decision and issue its final determination in 30 days.
In response, Hanwha announced that it will appeal.
On June 3, 2020, ITC issued its final determination in favor of Jinko, which upholds the ALJ’s initial determination in April. After analyzing copious expert testimony in great details, the Commission has come to a conclusion that Jinko’s products do not infringe Hanwha's patent.
Jinko’s Comment Regarding the Final Determination
"We welcome this final decision from the ITC, confirming what we have known all along: our products do not infringe Hanwha's patent," said Kangping Chen, CEO of JinkoSolar. "From the start, we have believed that the case brought by Hanwha was legally and technically meritless and a transparent attempt to disrupt innovation and slow our momentum. The ALJ's decision confirms that Hanwha should never have brought this case in the first place. JinkoSolar is a true innovator, and this outcome validates our technology. Our top priority is to provide our customers around the world with the industry-leading, sustainable, high-quality, high-performance solar modules they have come to expect from us."
A Hanwha spokesperson has shared its view with pv magazine, “Hanwha Q Cells respects the decision rendered by the United States International Trade Commission on June 3, 2020. However, it is regrettable that the commission has not taken our claim into proper consideration. As an industry-leading solar company, Hanwha Q Cells has been strongly supporting fair competition and promoting intellectual property rights in the industry.”
Despite the decision of ITC, Hanwha stands by its belief that “Hanwha Q Cells’ ‘215’ patent has been infringed. To that effect, we will seek all possible legal avenues to protect the company’s valuable intellectual property rights.”