Black Cloud Over Sinovel Blows into Brazil
In a previous post, I discussed some of the out of court business damage suffered by Sinovel as a result of the IP suits filed by American Superconductor (AMSC) against the Chinese wind turbine maker in China.
That post reported the news that Mainstream Renewable Power ditched Sinovel and was looking for alternative suppliers for large wind farm projects in Ireland.
Sinovel is also having difficulty in Brazil because of the AMSC IP cloud hanging over its wind turbine business. Recently, Brazilian developer Desenvix filed a request for a court order to inspect Sinovel wind turbines imported into Brazil to determine whether they contain components affected by the litigation with AMSC.
According to this Recharge piece, the turbines at issue are probably the 23 1.5 MW devices ordered by Desenvix for the Barra dos Coqueiros wind farm in Sergipe state.
The Recharge article quotes a statement from AMSC about the impetus for Desenvix’s court filing:
Since the turbines arrived in Brazil, Desenvix has been requesting evidence from Sinovel that the wind turbines do not contain AMSC’s stolen intellectual property. To date, Sinovel has refused to provide adequate evidence. As a result, Desenvix filed the court order.
It is unclear what Desenvix would do if it does not receive assurance that the Sinovel turbines are free of allegedly infringing parts or an inspection reveals that they do contain components implicated in the AMSC litigation.
Sinovel is not the only wind turbine manufacturer to find its business damaged by pending IP infringement actions. Mitsubishi has claimed that GE’s accusations of infringement of several variable speed wind turbine patents virtually shut down its U.S. business.
According to Mitsubishi’s court filings (mitsubishi_antitrust_complaint.pdf), its $2 billion in annual U.S. sales of variable speed wind turbines dropped to zero after initiation of the first patent infringement suit by GE in early 2008.
These stories are likely to continue and become more prevalent in clean tech. It will be interesting to see if the infringement litigation against Sinovel will tarnish the reputations or hurt the business of other Chinese clean tech companies as well.
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