TCL Zhonghuan’s Statement on BC Cell Patent Infringement Issue Against AIKO

PVTIME – On 16 November 2023, TCL Zhonghuan released its statement on the patent infringement issued by Maxeon Solar Technologies, Ltd.(Maxeon) (NASDAQ: MAXN), a global leader in solar innovation and distribution and a holding company of TCL Zhonghuan.

TCL Zhonghuan is Maxeon’s major stakeholder, providing complete support for Maxeon’s protection of intellectual property rights. It will also fully assist Maxeon and its subsidiaries in defending their lawful rights and interests through legal means, which include discovering instances of intellectual property rights infringement that cause harm to Maxeon’s licensing authorization.

Maxeon’s subsidiary, Maxeon Solar Pte. Ltd., has initiated legal proceedings for patent infringement against Shanghai Aiko Solar Energy Co., Ltd., including its subsidiaries Aiko Energy Germany GmbH and Solarlab Aiko Europe GmbH, as well as its wholesaler, Memodo GmbH. The claim has been filed in the Mannheim District Court, Germany, and asserts that Aiko and Memodo have infringed Maxeon’s European Patent No. EP2297788B1, which concerns “Back-contacted solar cells with doped polysilicon regions separated via trench structures and fabrication process therefor”. This patent concerns exclusive and essential solar cell structures for rear or back contact solar cells, commonly referred to as All-Back Contact (ABC) solar cells or Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) solar cells.

Back contact solar cells, including Maxeon IBC solar cells, differ from conventional front contact solar cells that have metal contacts on the front surface, which obstruct sunlight and decrease efficiency. Back contact solar cells enable the solar cell’s front surface to receive complete sunlight without any shadowing from metal contacts, thereby optimizing efficiency and energy output. Maxeon offers solar panels that incorporate Maxeon IBC solar cells in its top-tier Maxeon solar panel range.

“Maxeon is an industry leader in Interdigitated Back Contact (IBC) solar cell technology, with the company having pioneered the development of this cell structure more than 20 years ago. Since the first IBC solar cells were made commercially available in 2004, a lot of progress has been made and we recently announced a world-record module aperture efficiency measurement of 24.7% for the company’s next generation IBC panels. The intellectual property behind the IBC technology is the outcome of significant investments and technical advancements and the resultant Maxeon line produces the industry’s most efficient panels,” said Bill Mulligan, Maxeon’s CEO. “The lawsuit against Aiko and Memodo is necessary to protect our intellectual property, significant R&D and other investments, as well as our reputation and deep heritage and culture of innovation.”

The innovations behind Maxeon IBC, Shingled Hypercell, and TOPCon technologies are protected by a patent portfolio of over 1,600 granted patents and over 360 pending patent applications across our global markets, including the United States of America, China, Australia, Japan, Korea, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

“We believe that Aiko uses Maxeon’s technology,” said Maxeon Chief Legal & Sustainability Officer Lindsey Wiedmann. “Maxeon expects Aiko and Memodo to respect Maxeon’s patent rights and immediately stop unauthorized use of Maxeon’s patented technology. Technology innovation depends on a patent system that rewards and protects the investments necessary to create such innovation. As a global, industry-leading solar company, Maxeon strongly supports fair competition in the marketplace and appreciates the importance of intellectual property rights of all participants in the industry. This also means that we will rigorously defend our intellectual property rights when they are being violated. Earlier this year we took action against Tongwei with respect to our Shingled Hypercell technology, and we plan to continue to vigorously defend our intellectual property around IBC, Shingled Hypercell, and TOPCon technologies.”

Furthermore, Maxeon Solar has published its Q3 2023 outcomes, reporting an operating income of $227.6 million, but a loss of $2.21 per share. It shipped 628MW in Q3, a YoY rise of 3.8%, and anticipates shipping between 610MW to 650MW in Q4 2023.

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