Archive for the ‘Solar’ Category

GT Solar’s trade secret claims against supplier’s former employee to proceed in federal court

October 21, 2009

Story here.  Complaint here.  And 51-page Order denying motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.

The case involves GT Solar’s claim to designs used in its Solar 36 Rod Reactor.


Strategic value of solar patents increasing slowly but surely: SunPower secures license from SunLink

October 11, 2009

Associated Press reported that SunPower and SunLink have settled a patent suit with SunPower extracting a license from SunLink.  The complaint was originally filed in Oregon and transferred to Northern California where it was pending before Judge Saundra Armstrong, who wrote the Kivalina Order on greenhouse gas public nuisance suits that I recently posted about.  (I also appeared before Judge Armstrong recently in a contracts case involving  “greenwashing” claims and was very impressed.)

The SunPower complaint asserts two patents, US Patent No. 5505788 (“Thermally Regulated Photovoltaic Roofing Assembly”) and No. RE38,988 (“Lightweight, Self-Balancing Photovoltaic Assembly”).

‘788 Patent Claim 1:

1. A photovoltaic roofing assembly, comprising:

a roofing membrane;
a plurality of photovoltaic modules disposed as a layer on top of said roofing membrane, and
means for regulating the temperature of said photovoltaic modules.

‘988 Patent Claim 1:

1. A photovoltaic assembly comprising:

a building rooftop;
a photovoltaic module having sides and having upper and lower surfaces; and
a spacer secured to the lower surface of the photovoltaic module and supported by the building rooftop;
said spacer sized and configured to define:
an open region beneath said lower surface, said open region extending between and in contact with the lower surface and in direct contact with the building rooftop, and
including access openings formed therein for fluidly coupling said open region to said upper surface;
said access openings extending along at least two sides of said photovoltaic module;
whereby wind uplift forces are resisted when said photovoltaic assembly is mounted to the building rooftop .

Australian patent attorney Justin Blows makes a sharp prediction that strategic use of patents will likely increase as the industry matures.

Germany’s CentroSolar Group achieves remarkably quick result with trademark infringement complaint

October 8, 2009

Oregon-based Centron Solar has changed its name to Grape Solar, responding fairly quickly to an apparently effective complaint for trademark infringement and related claims filed against it in Arizona District Court by the German CentroSolar Group only about a week ago.  The German plaintiff asserted Registration No. 3,427,031 for the CENTROSOLAR® mark registered to CentroSolar Group.

The complaint alleges five related counts and asks for: (a) a TRO, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction; (b) an order requiring now-Grape Solar to unwind damage to CentroSolar (including notifying its  customers of the issue, delivering labels and other materials to plaintiff to destroy, abandoning its application for a CENTRON SOLAR trademark and transferring to plaintiff; and (c) monetary awards.

According to the USPTO website, Grape Solar requested abandonment of its application for CENTRON SOLAR on Oct. 5, 2009 just before announcing its new name, but the website still leads to Grape Solar as of now.   CentroSolar’s demands will likely be addressed in a settlement agreement resolving the case.

Oregon’s Register-Guard paper has an interesting article on Grape Solar’s president, Ocean Yuan’s approach in responding to the lawsuit.

SDNY judge approves Conergy’s antitrust and breach of contract claims against its wafer supplier MEMC Electronoic Materials, Inc.

August 14, 2009

Today, S.D.N.Y. allowed Conergy to proceed with federal antitrust and breach of contract claims against its wafer supplier, MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc.   Conergy’s Amended Complaint alleges that Conergy had planned to manufacture its own solar wafers before it entered into its the 10-year Wafer Supply Agreement with MEMC in October 2007.  According to its allegations, Conergy was unable to find an acceptable supplier of polysilicon due to the worldwide shortage of polysilicon at the time, and that MEMC’s unique market position allowed it to force Conergy to accept a contract with a non-compete clause.

Defendants MEMC argued that Conergy failed to plead a per se violation of the Sherman Act because Conergy only alleged intent to compete, without also actually showing that it was otherwise prepared to enter the solar wafer market.  However, in her Order, Judge Scheindlin rejected MEMC’s argument.  Noting Conergy will have to make that showing at a later stage in the litigation, she held that  Conergy’s allegation of intent sufficed for the pleadings stage.