Hanwha’s US Patent Appeal Upheld and Invalidated

PVTIME – Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued an appeal decision on the invalidation of Hanwha’s US patent US9893215B2, in which the court upheld the US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) “Invalidation Decision”, ruling in favour of the patent’s invalidity. LONGi has won both the International Trade Commission (ITC) litigation and the patent invalidation case (IPR) against Hanwha in the United States thus far.

Since 2019, Hanwha has filed patent infringement cases in numerous countries throughout the world against several PV companies, notably LONGi, alleging an infringement of its patents technology. After conducting detailed analysis and assessment, LONGi was confident that its relevant products have not infringed such patent. The technology that the patent covered is generic and common to the technicians in the industry and lacks the inventive step required by the patent law, hence, this patent should not have been granted in the first place. And vigorously filed several legal proceedings for the patent invalidation globally. This has been reaffirmed by the ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Earlier this week, the specialized Court in Paris (France), in a decision handed down by one of its most experienced patent law judges, ruled that Hanwha’s seizures as conducted in France in 2021 were illegal and thus invalid on the grounds of disloyal conduct by Hanwha and ordered the release and recall of all the documents and materials that were seized and detained illegally by Hanwha. More specifically, the French Court ruled that Hanwha had acted in a disloyal manner by withholding crucial information from the French Court such as (1) the opinion issued on October 21, 2020 by the Opposition Division of the European Patent Office (EPO) ruling in favour of the invalidity of Hanwha’s patent and (2) the fact that the equivalent patent claims in the US had been declared invalid by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In order to gain the judge’s support in the Dutch legal proceedings, Hanwha had also concealed some facts to varying degrees or made misrepresentations that were contrary to industry practice.

At present, the non-infringement and invalidity proceedings in Australia litigation between LONGi and Hanwha are currently in the stage of evidence exchange and argument defence. The judge is tentatively set to hear the case in the fourth quarter of 2022. LONGi maintains confidence that its products do not infringe on Hanwha’s patent rights and that it will win the lawsuit.

Furthermore, LONGi has filed an opposition to the EPO contesting the validity of the equivalent Europe patent EP2220689B1, which is still pending.

LONGi is an industry-leading developer and manufacturer of state of the art solar modules. It annually invests around €600 Million on R&D to develop best in class PV products and it respects valid third party rights. However, it will not deal with frivolous claims by opportunistic competitors. LONGi will continue to defend its rights and the rights of its customers against the frivolous claims of Hanwha, including by (i) filing declaratory relief, (ii) opposing Hanwha’s patent and (iii) considering further legal measures against the unfair practices of Hanwha.