SolarCity has been accused of misusing the shingling technology owned by Cogenra Solar Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of SunPower Corporation and Khosla Ventures. The parties filed the lawsuit against the firm on Monday, stating that SolarCity is gaining an undue advantage due to the technology that underlies the manufacturing of high efficiency commercially viable solar power panels, according to Reuters.
SolarCity accused of taking shingling technology secrets
Cogenra added in its lawsuit that the solar firm had exploited its trade secrets, manufacturing processes and various other intellectual properties to get ahead of competitors in developing shingled-cell solar modules. Cognera said that in 2014, SolarCity announced the acquisition of Silevo, and after this, the merged company started filing a patent application which was inclusive of the misappropriated proprietary technology.
Citing sources familiar with the process, Bloomberg says prior to its acquisition by SunPower in 2015, Cogenra was seeking investments from various top-notch solar power companies, and SolarCity was among those that expressed interest. In this process, the company allegedly acquired the confidential information during the due diligence process.
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In its lawsuit, Cognera mentioned that 80% of its stake was held by Khosla Ventures from 2009 to 2015. Both SunPower and Khosla said in a statement that claims made by SolarCity are false, and they are looking forward to legal proceedings in court.
SolarCity denies all claims
In response, the solar firm says it developed the technology for layering solar cells like shingles to boost the efficiency of the panels on its own. Also it said that SunPower has yet to respond to its trade-secret theft claim.
Last week, SolarCity made a disclosure stating that one of its former employees copied sensitive information in a hard drive and later joined SunPower as a senior sales manager, notes Reuters.
SolarCity said in a statement, “Any unauthorized copying and use of this information is a very serious violation of SolarCity’s intellectual property rights so we immediately notified SunPower.”
Jonathan Bass, a SolarCity spokesman, called out Cogenra’s claims as baseless and far from the facts, adding that the company is confident that the court will dismiss the case filed by Cogenra. Bass said that instead of returning SolarCity’s trade secrets, Cognera filed a suit to divert the court’s attention.
On Monday, SolarCity shares closed up 3.85% at $19.98. Year to date, the stock is down almost 61%, while in the last year, it is down almost 52%.