- Industry Roundup
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This week, during the Solarbuzz China PV conference in Shanghai, Walt Cheng, DuPont’s managing director for greater China, was the featured speaker. During his talk he addressed various topics, but focused on the importance of innovation and the need for intellectual property protection in the continuously competitive PV market.
“In the solar industry today, cost pressures are intensifying throughout the value chain, and companies are looking harder than ever to gain competitive advantage,” said Cheng. “Technological innovation remains the lifeblood of this industry and the key means of achieving lower levelized cost of energy. Intellectual Property (IP) theft is widespread and the issue seems to be growing in the current climate of this industry. IP theft, left unchecked, has the potential to threaten the PV industry broadly at a critical time in its development. Everyone at every level in the industry benefits from vigorous competition that spurs innovation, bringing cutting-edge products to the global market. IP theft diminishes competition and reduces innovation. If there is no longer an incentive for companies to deliver new innovations, the progress we’ve made together to accelerate the growth of solar energy can stall.”
Last year, DuPont spent US$2 billion on R&D. “As DuPont continues to develop new technology, we need to ensure it is protected,” said Cheng. “We do not ignore infringement and will pursue aggressively other points in the PV supply chain where IP infringement of our PV metallization pastes exists.”
Cheng alluded to the company’s previous actions involving IP protection in China and other countries. Notably, DuPont recently filed two lawsuits against PV metallization past supplier Heraeus and one against its customer SolarWorld for supposedly infringing on DuPont patents for DuPont Solamet PV metallization pastes.
He concluded by asking for increased support from the industry to safeguard against infringement and noted a need for stronger opposition to infringement of materials in the production and sale of downstream products by cell and module makers, PV system developers, installers and owners.
“We have reached a point where we have to re-level the playing field. In a market that is fair, free and legal, we relish the opportunity to compete with the best technology providers to help solar succeed, and we look forward to your support in this critical endeavor,” Cheng concluded.