Chinese Wind Patent Case May End Up in Nation’s Highest Court

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In previous posts (here and here), I discussed the IP litigation in China between American Superconductor (AMSC) and Chinese wind energy system maker Sinovel.

The of heart of the dispute is AMSC’s allegations that Sinovel misappropriated its proprietary software code for controlling wind turbines and power converters.

Specifcally, AMSC accuses Sinovel of copyright infringement and theft of trade secrets by Sinovel’s unauthorized use of the turbine control software source code and the binary code, or upper layer, of its software for the PM3000 power converters used with Sinovel’s 1.5 MW turbines. The control software was developed by AMSC for use with Sinovel’s turbines.

The litigation has involved four separate actions by AMSC in various forums in China.

At least one of those lawsuits has begun its ascent through the Chinese appellate courts.

Earlier this month, the Hainan Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision dismissing AMSC’s copyright infringement action. The Hainan Province No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court had thrown out AMSC’s suit on jurisdictional grounds after Sinovel filed a motion to dismiss in December.

In the motion, Sinovel argued that the case should be governed by the Beijing Arbitration Commission, which is hearing separate contractual disputes between AMSC and Sinovel.

According to this Recharge piece, the Hainan case was brought against Dalian Guotong, a power converter maker partially owned by Sinovel, and Huaneng Hainan Power Company.

This action is AMSC’s smallest case by dollar amount, in which the company had requested about $200,000 in damages as well as a cease and desist order.

Nevertheless, AMSC has filed an appeal with China’s highest court, the Supreme People’s Court. Recharge reports that AMSC did not receive any immediate indication as to when, or even if, the China Supremes will grant the appeal and hear the case.

We will continue to follow these cases as the effectiveness of intellectual property enforcement in China remains an open question of increasing importance to the cleantech industry.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at elane@luce.com.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

  • Ralph Perez

    Intellectual property??? Developed by your interaction with pubic school teachers. Protected by public police and fire. Protected by government military. Watered by the local water company. Energized by the local subsidized electric company. And on and on… greedy patent developers stop progress and lower the quality of life and should be treated accordingly.

    Holy Bible Acts 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; Acts 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all [men], as every man had need.