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Canadian Solar says patent infringement allegations by Westinghouse Solar "groundless"

10-11-2011 11:02 BJT

NANJING, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese solar panel manufacturer Canadian Solar on Monday referred to Westinghouse Solar's patent infringement accusations as "groundless" and said the company's sales would not be affected.

Westinghouse Solar, Inc., a California-based solar panel installer and equipment manufacturer, announced earlier last week that it had filed a complaint to the International Trade Commission (ITC), claiming that Zep Solar and Canadian Solar had infringed on two of its patents and demanding a permanent order barring some of their products from entering the U.S. market.

The ITC has not yet decided if it will review the case.

Zhang Hanbing, senior global marketing director with Canadian Solar, said it is too early to say if Westinghouse Solar even owns the two patents.

She said similar claims filed by Westinghouse Solar to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year are still under deliberation, while a lawsuit it filed in a federal district court in northern California concerning the same patents was suspended.

According to Zhang, Zep Solar launched a product using the two patents last year, gaining limited market share. Canadian Solar worked as its authorized distributor.

"We own intellectual property rights for all of our major products in the U.S. market. The product involved in the dispute accounts for less than one-thousandth of our sales revenues," said Zhang.

"Even if the product is found to be violating Westinghouse Solar's intellectual property rights by the ITC and its sale banned, our company's sales and future development will not be affected," Zhang added.

Zhang said she believes filing the ITC complaint is one of Westinghouse Solar's strategies to expand its business under pressure from fierce competition.

Four out of five of the world's top solar molecule producers are Chinese companies.

Westinghouse Solar's allegations are the second of their kind in a month, following criminal and civil complaints filed by American Superconductor accusing China-based Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. of illegally obtaining AMSC's intellectual property to upgrade its 1.5-megawatt wind turbines.

Sinovel Wind denied the allegation.

Industry insiders said increasing foreign anti-dumping policies have created challenges for Chinese enterprises in going global. Chinese solar power companies face the greatest pressure, as most of their business is done in overseas markets.

"We are very cautious in expanding our business, especially when contracts concern patent or legal issues," Zhang said.

"We hire large in-house legal teams in our branches in the United States, Europe, Japan and China, which very rare for Chinese enterprises," Zhang said.



Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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