High-efficiency PV module manufacturer REC Group has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Q CELLS regarding its split cell and junction box technology. Q CELLS had previously opened patent infringement lawsuits regarding a PERC cell process against REC Group, JinkoSolar and LONGi Solar.
REC Group said that it had filed against Hanwha Q Cells (Qidong) Co. – part of Hanwha Q Cells – in the People’s Republic of China on 18 February 2020, with the lawsuit accepted by the Suzhou IP Tribunal on 8 April 2020 and served on 20 April 2020.
Dr. Shankar G. Sridhara, Chief Technology Officer of REC Group said: “REC Group filed this action to protect its intellectual property, investments and reputation, as well as to encourage more innovation in the industry. The more solar companies invest in developing groundbreaking innovation, the more improvement we will see in efficiencies and costs per kWh and achieving full access to renewable energy generation and consumption for communities. As a global, pioneering solar energy company, we champion intellectual property rights and fair competition. This also means that we will rigorously defend our rights when they are being violated.”
REC first used the internally developed split junction box technology with its TwinPeak PERC modules, which replaces the traditional single bulky junction box with three smaller boxes that incorporate one bypass diode each and one box per internal string.
The company had claimed the split junction box technology used less metallisation and boasted reduced resistance and a much smaller form factor. This, the firm had said, enabled wider spacing between cells, increasing reflected light to the cell surface and boosting performance, amongst other benefits.
REC Group said that this specific technology was a key feature of its advanced modules.
Update: May 15, 2020
‘Solar Module Super League’ (SMSL) member, Q CELLS has responded to REC Group, suggesting its patent(s) in the case lack validity.
In a short response, Q CELLS claimed REC Groups split cell and junction box technology, patented in countries such as China had been rejected in Japan in 2019.
As a result, Q CELLS would be petitioning for the invalidity of REC’s alleged patent in China. The SMSL also noted that it was considering other “legal avenues”.