What do you see happening in the PV industry with regard to IP Infringement and theft?
In the solar industry today, cost pressures are intensifying throughout the value chain, and companies are looking harder than ever to gain competitive advantage. Most compete fairly, others do not. Intellectual Property (IP) theft and infringement is widespread and the issue seems to be growing in the current climate of the photovoltaics (PV) industry.
What are the implications of IP theft and infringement?
Technological innovation remains the lifeblood of this industry and the key means of achieving lower levelized cost of energy. Everyone at every level in the industry benefits from vigorous competition which spurs innovation that brings cutting-edge products to the global market. IP theft and infringement diminishes competition and reduces innovation. If there is no longer an incentive for companies to deliver new innovations, the progress we’ve made together driving solar growth can stall.
Is this a worldwide problem or is it isolated to certain countries?
This is a global business. IP theft and infringement is widespread, and can occur in any region.
What does DuPont spend annually on R&D for PV?
DuPont spent $2 billion last year on R&D. R&D focused on PV represents a significant portion of this – hundreds of millions of dollars each year –is directed toward accelerating technology advancements that improve the efficiency, lifetime and cost-competitiveness of solar energy to reduce global dependence on fossil fuels.
What is DuPont's patent position PV technology?
DuPont has been granted hundreds of patents related to photovoltaic applications globally - nearly 200 PV patents granted worldwide since the start of 2008. We also have over thirteen hundred patent applications pending in this area globally.
What actions has DuPont taken to protect its patents for Solamet®?
DuPont Microcircuit Materials has recently filed two lawsuits against PV paste supplier Heraeus and one against its customer SolarWorld, for infringing on DuPont patents for Solamet® photovoltaic metallization pastes.
Is this enough or are there other protections that can be implemented?
We are beginning to communicate to a broader PV industry audience that we do not ignore infringement and we will pursue aggressively other points in the supply chain where IP infringement exists. This set of actions continues in the manner of previous DuPont actions involving IP protection, in China and other countries in the world, however, this action is different from previous actions in that we are also focused on the production and sale of downstream products which incorporate “infringing” materials, potentially including other cell and module makers, as well as PV system developers, installers and owners. Infringing companies expose themselves, and potentially others they do business with, to the full range of legal remedies and the resulting impact on their businesses.
How can the industry guard against IP infringement and its implications?
We are asking for the support of the PV industry in our ongoing efforts to aggressively fight the theft and infringement of IP, and to help ensure it does not continue to proliferate. Companies should consult their own legal counsel if they have any questions about the materials they have in use and the potential implications of the production and sale of downstream products which incorporate “infringing” materials. If companies have questions relating to PV metallization pastes that may be at issue, they are advised to contact their DuPont Microcircuit Materials regional sales office.
As Walt Cheng stated, “We have reached a point where we have to re-level the playing field. In a market that is fair, free and legal, we relish the opportunity to compete with the best technology providers to help solar succeed.”
Photovoltaics Global Marketing Manager, DuPont Microcircuit Materials
Based in Bristol, U.K., Mr. Brenner joined DuPont in 1986 and has held a variety of roles within DuPont Microcircuit Materials including in Quality Management, Applied Technologies, and Sales and Marketing. He assumed responsibility for the European Photovoltaics market segment in 2003 and was appointed Photovoltaics Global Marketing Manager in 2006. Mr. Brenner earned his degree in applied physics and taught math and physics at DeHavilland College of Further Education before joining DuPont.