SolarEdge sues Huawei and Wattkraft over photovoltaics

Huawei is probably the most frequently sued company before German patent courts. Now SolarEdge has filed another lawsuit against the Chinese telecommunications group at Mannheim Regional Court (case ID: 2 O 82/18). This time, however, the case is not about mobile telecom patents – but rather photovoltaic technology.

17 August 2018 by Laura King

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The case concerns Israeli photovoltaics company SolarEdge, which accuses Huawei of infringing three European patents for its DC-optimised inverter technology for photovoltaic systems. SolarEdge has thus demanded an injunction, damages, and the recall of Huawei products.

Steffen Steininger

In addition to its Chinese parent company, German distributors Huawei Deutschland GmbH and Wattkraft Solar have also been sued. The latter, which is based in Hanover, is a large-scale distributor of the Huawei products in question.

At present, the lawsuit comprises all three patents but is likely to be divided into an individual lawsuit per patent during the course of proceedings. Mannheim Regional Court has not yet announced any dates for the hearings.

While SolarEdge is an established provider of photovoltaic technology, Huawei has made inroads into the lucrative market, especially in Germany, for just a few years. Usually it is its mobile devices which land the Chinese company before the German patent courts with accusations of patent infringement. The plaintiffs in these cases are usually non-practicing entities such as Intellectual Ventures or Conversant.

JUVE estimates that Huawei is currently involved in over 30 cases, either as a defendant or co-litigant.

The defenders

While the two Hogan Lovells partners Steininger and Plassmann represented SolarEdge for the first time, Huawei and Wattkraft retained its go-to law firms. Preu Bohlig partner Donle and patent attorney

Christian Donle

Christian Donle

Emmerling are a smoothly operating team at the side of the Chinese mobile phone giant and jointly conduct numerous lawsuits in Germany, mainly against NPEs. This includes what is probably Germany’s largest mobile telecom case against intellectual property licencing company Intellectual Ventures.

Huawei also instructs Bird & Bird for German patent proceedings, with its patent applications processed by a total of eight law firms, including Prüfer & Partner, Mitscherlich Patent- und Rechtsanwälte and Epping Hermann Fischer.

Wattkraft, on the other hand, is rarely involved in patent litigation. However, Beiten Burkhardt regularly advises the company on other legal issues. M&A and energy lawyer Merkens called in Munich IP lawyer Heim to defend against the SolarEdge suit.

SolarEdge has not involved external patent attorneys in the lawsuits. The Hogan Lovells team prepared the lawsuits using only the technical input from the company.

For SolarEdge
Hogan Lovells (Munich): Steffen Steininger, Clemens Plassmann (Düsseldorf); associates: Katharina Berghofer, Tobias Kempter

For Huawei
Preu Bohlig & Partner (Berlin): Christian Donle
Prüfer & Partner (Munich): Friedrich Emmerling; associates: Franck Régis Klein, Jürgen Pierau (patent attorneys)
In-house (Munich): Georg Kreuz (chief IP counsel Europe), Matthias Sachseder (IP counsel)

For Wattkraft
Beiten Burkhardt (Munich): Sebastian Heim, Christian Hess, Maik Merkens (M&A/energy law; Frankfurt am Main)

Mannheim Regional Court, 2nd Civil Chamber
Holger Kircher (presiding judge), Christoph Lehmeyer