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FIST SA publishes three new reports on the photovoltaic patents’ landscape

This three-part analysis – “Silicon cells”, “Thin film cells” and “Organic and hybrid cells” provides extensive information and rational analysis of the global photovoltaic cells patents’ landscape. 

PARIS September 9, 2009 – “IP Overview Photovoltaic 2009” establishes a panorama of the worldwide patents claiming “silicon cells”,


“thin film cells” and “organic and hybrid cells” and analyses the key and emerging thematic and the strategic positions of the actors involved in this sector. (industrials, research centres, universities…)

According to Sylvain Goiran, IP Overview principal analyst: “The global PV industry has faced considerable development over the past few years with 1.6B€ spent in R&D for 2007. Aiming for the lowest production costs by using large R&D effort, large companies have kicked small providers out of game. But today there is a new playground – “industrial property”. Organic and hybrid photovoltaic cells have seen the arrival of new industrials and academic players from Korea and China. It has been found that Korean companies hold 14% of the overall patents filing in 2006, as much as US companies; Korean filing growth was not expected.

The KIPO, equivalent of the USPTO in Korea, has announced a boom of filing (+60%) on the 2004-2008 period. The KERI (Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute) holds now the third biggest academic patents’ portfolio, just a few steps behind AIST (Agency of Industrial Science and Technology) and CAS (Chinese Academy of Sciences). For the thin film technology, the market leader FIRST SOLAR, does not appear in the top 20 of filings – “The US company may prefer to keep secret its know-how or in-license patents from academic partners and in particular those of NREL” concludes Sylvain Goiran.

Last example to date of this growing importance of an acute patent monitoring, “we can see the premise of patents actions in the sector: in 2008, Oerlikon Solar has filed a lawsuit against Sunfilm AG”. The Swiss company claimed that Sunfilm’s thin film manufacturing process infringes Oerlikon’s patents. Oerlikon Solar refers to the European Patent EP0871979 which protects fundamentals of the micromorph tandem cell technology, developed by the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland. Oerlikon claims that it is the exclusive licensee of this patent, the terms of the license including the right to enforce the patent against infringements. On June 2009, the European Patent Office dealt a blow to Oerlikon by revoking the patent licensed by the company. The patent office’s decision is not likely to be the end of the dispute as the University of Neuchatel appealed the decision in August 2009.

This report “IP Overview Photovoltaic”, provides a comprehensive analysis of the rapidly growing PV industry, as can be seen on the patent perspective. It gives detailed information about some of the key aspects of the industry and helps clients identify the driving forces and current trends of the PV industry. “In order to fully analyze this field, we aggregated the information coming from 22 000 published patents and patents’ applications. This represents a fully new approach which is complementary with classical market studies.” concludes Sylvain Goiran.

In order to fully enable the exploitation of their innovation, companies must define a clear patent strategy. This strategy leans on an acute understanding of the technical and legal environment: who holds the current and emerging position in terms of innovation? What are the existing driving forces in the environment? Who influences the technical evolutions and benefits from them?

With 15 years of experience in patent portfolio management, FIST SA provides intellectual properties & technology transfer services tailored to the needs of private companies and research organizations.

IP Overview «silicon cells», «thin film cells» and «organic cells» are available on our website at www.frinnov.fr 

Name Contact Sylvain Goiran IP Overview Principal Analyst sylvain.goiran@fist.fr FIST SA 83 Bd Exelmans 75016 Paris FRANCE Phone : +33 (0)1 40 51 00 90 www.frinnov.fr