Rotterdam court rejects attempt by Longi to challenge seizure of its PV panels by Hanwha
Hanwha received permission from the District Court in Rotterdam to seize a Longi shipment and on Friday, a bid by Longi to persuade the court to withdraw that permission was rejected.
Korean solar manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells has told pv magazine an attempt by Chinese rival Longi to challenge a seizure of Longi products at the Port of Rotterdam has been rejected by a Dutch court.
As pv magazine reported last week, a shipment of Longi products was seized in Rotterdam last month after Hanwha obtained permission from the Dutch authorities because of the risk the products could be exported into third-party European countries where a Hanwha patent applies.
The Dusseldorf Regional Court, in June last year, decided Longi – and fellow Chinese-owned companies JinkoSolar and REC Solar – had infringed Hanwha’s patent EP 2 220 689, which relates to solar cell passivation technology. Hanwha had filed the patent infringement claim in March 2019 and an appeal to that Dusseldorf decision, subsequently announced by Longi and which was due to have taken place in April, is now expected to be held in “late summer,” according to a source close to the case.
With reference to the Hanwha patent, Q Cells parent Hanwha Solutions Corporation is understood to have conducted a seizure of the Longi products on June 21, having been given the go-ahead by the District Court in Rotterdam on June 16.
Longi challenged the order of the court which permitted the seizure but Hanwha has announced the court rejected the challenge on Friday.
Hanwha said: “On July 9, the District Court in Rotterdam … rejected Longi’s challenge, which intended to persuade the court to withdraw such permission and have the seizure lifted. Thus, the product seizure will be upheld in principle. The court ordered Q Cells to release Longi’s products under the condition that Longi can provide sufficient proof that such products would not be exported to countries where the relevant European patent, EP 2 220 689 ([the] ‘689 patent) is in force. Q Cells had already offered this option to Longi even before the court’s rejection of Longi’s challenge and will of course, immediately release particular shipments/batches of seized products upon receiving the respective proof. However, up until now (Monday, July 12, 2021), no such proof has been provided.”
The statement continued: “Q Cells considers the rejection of Longi’s challenge by the District Court in Rotterdam as another conformation that intellectual property rights in Europe are solid and can be effectively protected. Q Cells has taken these legal actions with the sole purpose to protect its intellectual property as well as the time and capital-intensive R&D efforts that the company continues to undertake in developing PV technology. Our hope is that such enforcement activity serves to protect European customers, who wish to purchase reliable, high quality solar modules, fairly developed and manufactured using fully patent-protected technology.”
Longi responded to news of the seizure breaking by issuing a statement on Friday publicizing a decision made by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on June 28, to invalidate Hanwha Q Cells’ U.S. Patent 8,933,525B2. pv magazine has learned, however, that patent is different from Hanwha’s U.S. Patent 9893215 (PERC), which has not been subject to invalidation and which would be the equivalent of the European EP 2 220 689 patent which enabled Hanwha to make its seizure in Rotterdam.
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