Solar module tech company Solaria sues for misappropriation of trade secrets

Solaria Corp., global provider of solar module technologies, filed suit against Jiangsu Sera-phim Solar System Co., Ltd., Seraphim Solar USA Manufacturing Inc., and Suzhou Autoway System Co., Ltd. in Federal District Court for the Northern District of California. In the lawsuit, Solaria contends that defendants misappropriated Solaria’s trade secrets regarding its proprietary high-efficiency solar panel technology and used the information to make their own solar modules and manufacturing equipment without Solaria’s knowledge or consent. The complaint also includes claims for conversion, unjust enrichment/restitution, and unfair competition.

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The Solaria PowerXT

“We believe we have strong evidence that Seraphim and Autoway misappropriated Solaria’s pro-prietary technology and manufacturing processes for their own use, in violation of U.S. intellec-tual property laws,” said Solaria CEO Suvi Sharma. “Our investigation is ongoing and we will take all appropriate action, including bringing in additional parties to the lawsuit if warranted, in order to protect our business interests,” Sharma said.

Inside the suit

Solaria has spent over a decade and made significant investments in developing its technology in solar cell cutting, stringing and panel making. Solaria protects its proprietary technology through patents and trade secrets. The present lawsuit alleges misappropriation of key aspects of Solaria’s technology protected by trade secrets. Solaria is investigating whether these companies, and potentially others, are violating its patents as well.

In September 2016, Solaria filed suit against various GCL companies, including GCL-Poly Ener-gy Holdings, Ltd., in California State Court. In that lawsuit, Solaria claims that GCL misappropriated Solaria’s trade secrets and breached a non-disclosure agreement pursuant to which Solaria disclosed its high-efficiency solar module technology to GCL as part of a potential deal between the two companies. Solaria alleges that after GCL abruptly terminated the negotiations with So-laria, it embarked on its own effort to develop high-efficiency solar panels based on Solaria’s technology and disclosed Solaria’s trade secrets to Autoway and potentially others as part of that effort.

Early on in the GCL action, the Court entered a stipulated order requiring GCL Solar Energy, Inc., and its employees (including any former employees now employed by its affiliate, GCL New Energy, Inc.), officers, directors, and any wholly-owned subsidiary companies, not to use for their own purposes, or disclose to third parties, any Confidential Information provided by Solaria to GCL under the non-disclosure agreement. The order also required that these defend-ants return Solaria’s Confidential Information and preserve all information relevant to the action. The lawsuit against GCL is ongoing.

— Solar Builder magazine

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