The U.S. International Trade Commission ("ITC") has launched a trade investigation against JinkoSolar, LONGi Solar and REC Group on the heels of a complaint filed on March 4th by Hanwha Q CELLS USA Inc. of Dalton, GA, and Hanwha Q CELLS & Advanced Materials Corporation of Seoul, Republic of Korea ("Hanwha") for patent infringement. Hanwha has accused its three competitors of violating Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by unlawfully implementing Hanwha's patented passivation technology in their own photovoltaic cells, and importing those cells for sale in the United States.
The investigation (337-TA-1151) is underway, but the ITC has yet to make any determinations. After the case is assigned to an administrative law judge, the judge will hold an evidentiary hearing and make an initial determination. The initial determination will be subject to review by the ITC. The ITC will then make a "final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time." The ITC will set a target date for completing the investigation within 45 days of the institution of the investigation. Any remedial order issued by the ITC will become effective at the time of issuance, and will become final 60 days later if not disapproved by the U.S. Trade Representative.
Unlike prior solar panel import disputes, which were based on unfair competition and trade practices, the Hanwha complaint focuses on a violation of intellectual property rights and patent infringement. Hanwha is seeking cease and desist orders, as well as a limited exclusion order, which would effectively limit respondents' ability to import solar panels. The following entities are respondents in the investigation:
- JinkoSolar Holding Co., Ltd., c/o Conyers Trust Company (Cayman) Limited of George
- Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands;
- JinkoSo1ar (U.S.) Inc. of San Francisco, CA;
- Jinko Solar (U.S.) Industries Inc. of San Francisco, CA;
- Jinko Solar Co., Ltd., of Jiangxi, China;
- Zhejiang Jinko Solar Co., Ltd., of Yuanhua Town, Haining City, China;
- Jinko Solar Technology Sdn. Bhd. of Kuala Lumpur, Wilaya Persekutuan, Malaysia;
- LONGi Solar Technology Co., Ltd., of Xi'an, Shaanxi, China;
- LONGi Green Energy Technology Co., Ltd., of Xi'an, Shaanxi, China;
- LONGi (H.K.) Trading Ltd. of Wanchai, Hong Kong;
- LONGi (Kuching) Sdn. Bhd. of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia;
- Taizhou LONGi Solar Technology Ltd. of Taizhou, Jiangsu, China;
- Zhejiang LONGi Solar Technology Ltd. of Quzhou, Zhejiang, China;
- Hefei LONGi Solar Technology Ltd. of Hefei, Anhui, China;
- LONGi Solar Technology (U.S.) Inc. of San Ramon, CA;
- REC Solar Holdings AS of Oslo, Norway;
- REC Solar Pte. Ltd. of Tuas, Singapore; and
- REC Americas, LLC, of San Mateo, CA.
In addition to the action with the ITC, Hanwha and its subsidiaries have filed a similar complaint in U.S. District Court in Delaware, as well as other complaints in Germany and Australia.
Additional information can be found in ITC's press release, located here.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.