dyson and dyson, two of the world’s largest makers of solar panels, are being sued by a family of solar panel manufacturers for failing to adequately protect their intellectual property.
The case, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, is the latest in a long line of legal battles that have exposed how the solar industry is evolving under a new administration that has sought to regulate the industry with greater force.
The suit, which has been referred to the US Attorney’s Office for possible prosecution, claims that the companies did not properly disclose the risks of their technology to consumers and that the patents on their panels were not adequately protected.
“We’ve always been committed to protecting our intellectual property and protecting our consumers,” said Scott Waring, chairman and CEO of Dyson.
“Dyson’s innovation is an example of why we continue to be a leader in the solar panel market.”
The suit accuses the companies of “deliberately and maliciously” misleading consumers, including by concealing the risks associated with their solar panels and by failing to properly disclose their patent portfolios to consumers.
The suits also allege that the solar companies were negligent by failing, without notice, to file the patents, which would have protected them from being infringed by competitors.
“The failure to file and protect patents and to disclose them adequately was willful, reckless, and malicious,” the suit states.
The companies, which have been active in the industry since the early 1980s, said in a statement that they were disappointed in the court’s decision and that they would pursue all available legal remedies.
“Our position is clear: we are pleased that the court upheld the validity of the patents we filed, and we will vigorously defend the patents against any future claims,” said Peter Pritchard, vice president of solar systems at Dyson Solar.
“It is unfortunate that the government’s decision to take away the patents in this case could have been made without a fair hearing and without the benefit of a full and fair trial.”
Waring and his company, which makes solar panels for residential, commercial, and utility customers, have been working with the Solar Industry Association (SIIA) to address concerns over their patents and their use of the word “solar”.
The suit is not the first time that the Solar Panel Alliance, which represents the solar panels industry, has sued the companies.
In a statement, the Solar Power Industry Association of America (SPIAA) said that the case is a reminder that companies are not above the law.
“In light of this case, we urge the US Department of Justice to act swiftly and expeditiously to defend our rights to protect our patents and protect our consumers from future claims, both onshore and offshore,” the SPIAA said.
“As this case is ongoing, we will continue to work with our industry partners to protect and promote our patents, and protect the rights of our customers.”
Solar panel manufacturers are already being sued in other countries for allegedly infringing on patents that protect their technologies.
In March, a court in Switzerland ruled that solar panels manufactured by a German company called SolarPower AG were invalid and were therefore unpatentable.
The company was ordered to pay the court €6.5m ($7m) to compensate the Swiss court and to pay an additional €1.5 million in damages to the German government.
In April, a British court ordered that two solar panels owned by the same company in Scotland were invalid as well, and ordered the company to pay £1.6m ($2.2m) in compensation.
The court also ruled that a German-made solar panel manufactured by SolarPower was unpatripe and hence unpatented.
The German company was fined £3.6 million ($4.6million) in January.
“This is a very big case,” said Paul Brouwer, the director of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a trade group that represents the U.S. solar industry.
“These are not isolated cases.
We’re seeing a lot more of these.
Companies are being prosecuted and fined, and they’re paying millions in damages.
This is really going to change how we think about how we work with the solar technology industry.”
The solar industry has been grappling with patent issues for some time, but they were on the rise after the solar photovoltaic (PV) revolution took off in the early 1990s.
“There’s been a huge shift in how the industry has operated in the last couple of decades,” said Brouewer.
“You’ve seen patent trolls start coming into the industry.
There are also companies that are suing and taking action for patent infringement.
This makes it harder for solar companies to continue to compete and to be successful in the market.”
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