Sidley recently secured a significant win on behalf of client LONGi Green Energy Technology Co., Ltd and its affiliated companies, including LONGi Solar Technology US Inc. LONGi is a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency mono-crystalline solar cells and modules.
The two-year battle began in March 2019 when Hanwha Q CELLS, a competitor, sued LONGi in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) seeking to exclude LONGi’s solar modules from importation into the U.S. This was a threat to LONGi, as it put the emerging and lucrative U.S. market for solar panels at risk.
In September 2019, Sidley obtained a favorable claim construction ruling from the ITC’s Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which led to the ALJ granting summary determination of no infringement in April 2020. This is highly unusual at the ITC, which generally eschews dispositive pre-trial rulings.
On June 3, 2020, the ITC affirmed the ALJ’s decision, while modifying it to embrace a further argument supporting LONGi. This victory was then cemented on July 12, 2021, when Sidley prevailed on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Striking a further blow to the Plaintiffs Hanwha Solutions Corporation and Hanwha Q Cells USA, Inc., Sidley invalidated the asserted patent claims in a parallel inter partes review (IPR) proceeding. Sidley also challenged a different Hanwha Q Cells patent through an IPR and prevailed there, too, on June 28, 2021. Both decisions are on appeal.
The Sidley team is headed by Thomas D. Rein (Chicago) and Samuel N. Tiu (Los Angeles). The ITC appeal was argued by Steven J. Horowitz (Chicago), and the IPRs were led by Ching-Lee Fukuda (New York). The LONGi team was also supported by Michael R. Franzinger (Washington, D.C.), Michael D. Hatcher (Dallas), Leif E. Peterson II (Chicago), and Jason P. Greenhut (Chicago).