MiaSolé, a Santa Clara, California, thin-film photovoltaic (PV) company, has been hit with a patent infringement suit involving a patent relating to interconnection structures for PV cells.
The complaint, brought by a company called Solannex, accuses Miasolé of infringing U.S. Patent No. 7,635,810, entitled “Substrate and collector grid structures for integrated photovoltaic arrays and process of manufacturing such arrays” (’810 Patent), by making, using and selling its MR-series PV modules.
According to the complaint (Solannex_Complaint), filed last month in federal court in San Francisco, Dr. Daniel Luch, the named inventor on the ’810 Patent, had discussions with Dave Pearce and Dennis Hollars, CEO and CTO, respectively, of Miasolé in 2006 in which Dr. Luch provided details about his proprietary technology.
Solannex further alleges that Luch provided samples of the interconnect structure to Miasolé and that MiaSolé requested price quotes for various production volumes of the technology. In June 2006, according to the complaint, MiaSolé filed two patent applications of its own relating to some aspects of Dr. Luch’s technology.
The ’810 Patent is directed to interconnection structures for PV cells including electrically conductive “fingers” that allow electrical communication between top and bottom surfaces of an interconnect region.
In particular, the patent describes an interconnecting strap (24) comprising conductive materials (28, 30) that extend through a hole (12) from the first surface (20) of the strap to the second surface (22).
According to the ’810 Patent, the interconnect technology reduces manufacturing costs by allowing separate production of the PV film and the interconnecting structure so the PV junction can be produced in bulk.
FIG. 13 (below) of the ’810 Patent shows three PV cells in a series arrangement using the interconnection technology. Each PV cell (40) has a light incident top surface (59) and a bottom surface (66).
The patent’s description says that prior art shingling arrangements included overlapping of cells that sacrificed valuable portions of cell surface. By contrast, this shingling arrangement does not require any loss of PV surface by an overlapping cell.
Solannex is seeking both monetary damages and a permanent injunction.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.