Solaria suing partner over trade secret misappropriation

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Solaria, a high-efficiency solar panel manufacturer based in California, has filed suit against South Korea’s Genesem Inc for making use of Solaria’s patents outside of their agreed upon terms.

Specifically, the suit seeks damages – and a transfer of patents – for, ‘breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, unjust enrichment, constructive trust and unfair competition.’

One specialty of Solaria’s is developing a machine to create its custom ‘shingle’ solar cells.

On Genesem’s website there are three machines related to solar cell production. None of them appear to be related to shingle solar cells.

Solaria has a pv module manufacturing joint venture partnership in South Korea. The line has a capacity of 60MW/year.

“Genesem violated our license agreement by using our proprietary technology without our knowledge or permission,” said Solaria CEO Suvi Sharma.

In January of this year, Solaria announced that has raised $23 million to expand its global manufacturing capacity from 100MW to 300MW. There was no mention on whether this lawsuit would affect that expansion.

This is not the first time Solaria has been involved in lawsuits related to their technology.

In November of 2017, Solaria resolved a legal dispute with GCL-Poly of China. The suit alleged that stolen trade secrets so GCL-Poly could develop their own shingle-cell solar panel. On GCL Solar’s website, you can see a shingle solar cell in the first header image. The suit was settled under NDA, though it was suggested that the settlement includes cooperation between the two companies to promote shingle-cells and jointly defend patents.

Solaria also sued Jiangsu Seaphim Solar System and Suzhou Autoway System for the same reasons as GCL Poly.

Other big names in the shingle-cell market have also had to fight for their technology – SunPower, via its partnership with Cogenra, sued SolarCity via its partnership with Silevo.

The sheer number of lawsuits over this technology indicates that shingle cell modules may be a promising evolution in PV cell and module design.