Environmental Intellectual Property Updates

In the courts, Tigo Energy – a power optimizer maker headquartered in Campbell, Calif. – filed suit earlier this month against SMA Solar Technology America LLC in the District of Delaware, alleging that SMA and its suppliers have copied Tigo’s line of module-level stop products and sell products that infringe six patents held by Tigo. In its closing argument, Tigo claims that SMA copied its product line to compete in the offering for sale, sale and distribution of products designed to enable photovoltaic systems to comply with shutdown requirements. Quick National Electrical Code § 690.12. SMA says on its website that its power solutions combine proprietary ShadeFix technology with a SunSpec-certified shutdown device to produce more power. SunSpec certification is for a set of standards that allow solar PV and energy storage systems to seamlessly interact with system components, software applications, financial systems, and the smart grid. See https://sunspec.org/certification/. The litigation is still in its early stages, and we will continue to monitor its progress and report on significant developments.

To the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Office announced on July 21 its commitment to become a technology partner of the sustainable development chapter of the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”), called WIPO GREEN. In doing so, the Patent Office joins ten (10) other intellectual property offices around the world. The USPTO’s contributions to WIPO GREEN include its own initiatives to address the challenge of climate change, including:

US patent newsMeta Materials Inc. — a developer of functional materials and high-performance nanocomposites — announced on July 18 that it had been granted two new patents on its nanoporous lithium-ion battery technology. US Patent No. 11,387,521 issued by the Patent Office on July 12, 2022 and relates to an advanced nanoporous separator for lithium-ion batteries, which according to Meta “has far superior safety properties such as better thermal conductivity and non-shrinkage by compared to conventional separators currently used in lithium-ion batteries. US Patent No. 11,387,523 issued on July 12, 2022, and targets a next-generation lithium-ion battery in which the cathode is directly coated on the separator. Meta claims that this “technology reduces the complexity and cost of the equipment used to manufacture the battery, for flat and prismatic batteries that can be used, for example, in electric vehicles.” See https://metamaterial.com/meta-materials-granted-two-new-us-patents-for-next-generation-battery-separators/.

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Denise W. Whigham