Solaria, a high-efficiency solar panel manufacturer based in California, filed suit against Canadian Solar, a solar module builder headquartered in China, in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California.
The suit claims that Canadian Solar infringes Solaria’s U.S. patent concerning a process for separating photovoltaic strips from silicon solar cells for use in more-efficient tiled or “shingled” solar panels.
Solaria asserts in the lawsuit that “it first introduced Canadian Solar to its high-efficiency, high-density module (HDM) technology in 2014 when representatives of Canadian Solar evaluated Solaria’s next-generation shingling technology for a potential licensing deal. After further collaborations between the companies over the ensuing year, in which Solaria disclosed its proprietary technology and business strategies to Canadian Solar under an NDA, no deal was reached.”
The claim continues: “In an apparent reference to Solaria’s proprietary HDM technology, Canadian Solar launched its “HiDM” shingled modules last year and began advertising and selling them in the United States. Solaria maintains that Canadian Solar’s HiDM shingled modules infringe Solaria’s patent, for which it seeks damages and injunctive relief.”
As pv magazine has reported, this is not the first time Solaria has been involved in lawsuits related to its technology. In 2018, Solaria filed suit against South Korea’s Genesem for making use of Solaria’s patents outside of agreed upon terms. In 2017, Solaria resolved a legal dispute with GCL-Poly of China involving alleged stolen trade secrets for shingle-cell solar technology. The suit was settled under NDA. Solaria also sued Jiangsu Seaphim Solar System and Suzhou Autoway System for the same reasons as GCL Poly.
Solaria has raised more than $200 million from investors including Cypress Semiconductors founder and former SunPower chairman T.J. Rodgers, Chilean investor Isadoro Quiroga, and Structure Capital. The company has a global manufacturing capacity greater than 300 MW.
“Solaria has invested over $200 million in developing its technology over the last decade to create the most advanced solar panels in the world,” said Solaria CEO Suvi Sharma in a release. “When foreign companies such as Canadian Solar ignore American patents and violate our core IP, we will take action to enforce and protect the technology that took so much effort and investment to develop.”