Shoals files patent complaint for solar connectors and wire harnesses


Shoals Technologies Group, a leading provider of electrical balance of system components for solar, storage, and electric vehicle charging equipment, filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) for alleged patent infringements. The complaint is filed against Hikam America, Inc., based in Chula Vista, California, and Voltage, LLC, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The complaint also applies to the mentioned companies’ foreign business counterparts. 

Shoals components are invented and manufactured in the U.S. under the “Big Lead Assembly” brand. Its push connectors and wire harnesses are installed above-ground, preventing the need for extensive and expensive wire trenching.  

The company claims a 43% lower installation cost and 20% less materials requirement when compared to conventional designs that rely on combiner boxes, and 83% fewer connections to inspect and maintain. BLA won the pv magazine award in 2019 for Balance of System components. 

Shoals has requested that the ITC investigate infringements under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 to bar the importation to the U.S. of the alleged infringing components. The company also filed complaints against the Hikam defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, and against the Voltage defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina for the same alleged infringements. 

The complaint relates to potential unlawful imports of PV connectors and other components on patents owned by Shoals. The company requested that the ITC issue a limited exclusion order and a cease-and-desist order against Hikam, Voltage and related entities to bar imports to the U.S. 

Jeff Tolnar, interim chief executive officer and president of Shoals released a statement: 

“Shoals has invested millions of dollars over our 27-year history to develop innovative products and technologies to reduce installation costs and improve reliability and safety for the utility scale solar, storage and EV charging markets. While we welcome healthy competition – especially that which betters the industry – we take our patents very seriously and will defend them vigorously to protect our intellectual property. As a U.S.-based company with design and manufacturing in Tennessee, Alabama, and California, we hope the ITC will protect our IP and support domestic manufacturing and job creation by banning the import of what we believe are infringing products from entering the U.S. market.”

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