Maxeon sues Hanwha QCells over alleged US TOPCon cell patent infringement

Following an investigation last November in the US, Maxeon has sued Canadian Solar, REC Solar and Hanwha Qcells for patent infringement. Image: Maxeon.

Solar manufacturer Maxeon Solar Technologies has initiated a patent infringement lawsuit in the US against Korean-owned PV manufacturer Hanwha Qcells.

Filed in the Eastern District of Texas, US, Maxeon alleges an infringement on patents related to tunnel oxide passivated contact (TOPCon) solar cell technology.

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The lawsuit follows an investigation launched by Maxeon last November against several companies regarding US TOPCon patent infringement, although the company had not disclosed any specifics regarding the patents or the names of the companies it was investigating.

“In November 2023, Maxeon initiated a TOPCon patent infringement investigation in the United States, and this lawsuit against Hanwha Q CELLS, along with recent similar actions against Canadian Solar, Inc. and REC Solar Holdings AS, are results of that investigation,” said Marc Robinson, associate general counsel at Maxeon. “Maxeon has the responsibility to protect the leadership position it has earned from its substantial R&D investments and will continue to enforce its patent rights against those who are attempting to sell infringing products in the U.S. and its other markets.”

“Qcells is fully confident that our products do not infringe any of the patents in question related to TOPCon technology. Therefore, Qcells intends to defend vigorously all allegations of patent infringement in court and ensure that there will be no disruption on the operations of the business as a result of such allegations,” a Qcells spokesperson told PV Tech regarding the lawsuit.

“Qcells takes seriously its responsibility to establish a healthy industry landscape in which time- and capital-intensive R&D efforts are properly protected. As with our proprietary PERC-based Q.ANTUM technology, Qcells’ TOPCon technology is a proof of our pioneering technological leadership.”

This is the latest patent infringement filed by Maxeon, after last week’s against REC Solar and Canadian Solar in March.

Outside the US, the company has filed two lawsuits against Chinese solar manufacturers Aiko and Tongwei in 2023, both in Germany.

Last November, the lawsuit against Aiko alleged infringement of Maxeon’s European patent for solar cell architectures. Maxeon said its patent relates to proprietary and fundamental solar cell architectures for rear or back contact solar cells, also known as all-back contact (ABC) solar cells or IBC solar cells.

Whereas the patent infringement lawsuit against Tongwei concerns Maxeon’s shingled solar cell panel technology – European patent no. EP3522045 B1 – which it claims Tongwei has infringed on in the German market.

“Last year, we filed lawsuits against Tongwei with respect to our Shingled Hypercell technology and against Aiko with respect to our IBC technology, further examples of Maxeon rigorously defending our IP in all our markets,” a Maxeon spokesperson told PV Tech.

This article was updated on 23 April 2024 to include Qcells’ comment regarding the alleged patent infringement.

8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.

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