The action was filed against one of Maxeon’s patents for the proprietary and fundamental shingled solar cell panel technology used to deploy solar panels that Maxeon designs and sells under the SunPower Performance brand name.
In May, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) accepted a request for invalidation filed by LONGi Green Energy Technology Co. Ltd. of Maxeon’s patent regarding high efficiency shingled solar cell panels (China Patent No. 201710523237.1). Following an oral hearing in October, CNIPA reviewed LONGi’s claims of invalidity and dozens of prior art documents, ultimately concluding that Maxeon’s patent is valid. This decision by CNIPA reaffirms Maxeon’s intellectual property rights in China for shingled solar cell panel technology.
“This ruling is an important confirmation of the strength of our patents and the underlying innovation behind our Performance panels,” says Jeff Waters, CEO of Maxeon Solar Technologies. “This technology is protected by an international portfolio of more than 150 patents and patent applications covering shingled solar cell and panel design, as well as key manufacturing tools and processes. We feel very strongly about the importance of upholding and safeguarding our intellectual property rights. Respecting IP is critical for the orderly ongoing development of the solar industry.”
Shingled solar cell panels are made by separating solar cells into smaller solar cell strips and subsequently connecting the resulting solar cell strips in an overlapping layout using a conductive adhesive. The result is a higher power, higher efficiency panel, with enhanced reliability and improved durability compared to conventional panels.
The Performance shingled solar cell panel architecture and manufacturing processes were pioneered by Silicon Valley-based start-up company Cogenra Solar. SunPower Corp. acquired Cogenra in 2015, and Maxeon retained the shingling technology IP rights following its spin-off from SunPower in August. Performance solar panels are manufactured in China by Huansheng Photovoltaic (Jiangsu) Co. Ltd., Maxeon’s joint venture with Tianjin Zhonghuan Semiconductor Co. Ltd. With more than 3 GW deployed across over 60 countries to date, Performance panels are the industry’s most deployed shingled solar cell panel technology.
Photo: Maxeon Solar’s landing page