Since November 16th, there have been reports in the media concerning patent invalidation proceedings in China between LONGi and Hanwha Q-Cells. Among the headlines were: “Chinese patent office rejects patent nullity proceedings against Hanwha Q-Cells” and “Q- Cells Comes Out on Top in Patent Invalidation Trial”, where the articles stated that Hanwha Q-Cells has won two lawsuits in China against the validity of two of its patents, and now sees a good chance of also being successful in proceedings before the European Patent Office”.
LONGi requested that the Patent Re-examination Board of the CNIPA declare the patent rights invalid against Hanwha patents ZL201080026335.0 (Method for manufacturing a solar cell with a surface-passivating dielectric double layer, and corresponding solar cell) and ZL200880124779.0 (Semiconductor apparatus and method of fabrication for a Semiconductor apparatus) on July 29 and August 13, 2019 respectively. The CNIPA published its decisions on the above invalidation procedures on November 2 and November 5, 2020, respectively (No 46660 and No. 46712), declaring partial invalidation of the above two patents, as most of the patent claims have been invalidated or amended by the patentee. The official CNIPA website link in regard to the above decisions is provided below for reference: (http://cpquery.cnipa.gov.cn/txnFsjdFileView.do?select-key:fid=GA000264344912&select-key:wenjiandm=201019&select-key:wenjianlx=0403&select-key:wendanglx=01&select-key:shenqingh=2010800263350 and http://cpquery.cnipa.gov.cn/txnFsjdFileView.do?select-key:fid=GA000265007781&select-key:wenjiandm=201019&select-key:wenjianlx=0403&select-key:wendanglx=01&select-key:shenqingh=2008801247790 )
The invalidation procedure in the CNIPA is an administrative examination procedure which only examines whether or not the authorized Chinese patent complies with patent law requirements. Such procedure is not a lawsuit and does not incorporate any judgment or decision on whether a patent has been infringed.
In addition, the preliminary opinion of the European Patent Office, published on October 21, 2020, stated that claims on the patent in dispute do not fulfil several legal validity requirements.
As a leading global renewable energy company, LONGi is committed to the development and application of photovoltaic technologies and has always attached great importance to technological innovation as well as to respecting IPR protection. Currently, there is no patent infringement litigation or lawsuit between LONGi and Hanwha Q-Cells in China. The terms of the technologies applied in LONGi’s existing and future products are quite different to those of the patent in dispute and, there being no current risk of infringement, production and marketing in China will remain unaffected. However, LONGi will continue to file an invalidation procedure against the remaining claims on the above patents, in order to prevent the potential initiation of unnecessary patent infringement lawsuits by Hanwha Q-Cells.