Unitalen Assisted SunPure in Winning a Complete Victory in Patent Infringement Litigation and Invalidation Procedure

June 28, 2022

Case Brief:

Founded in 2019, SunPure Technology Co., Ltd., is headquartered in Hefei National High-tech Industrial Development Zone, China. It is a high-tech innovative company focusing on research and development, production, sales and service of intelligent solar panel cleaning robots and standardized, specialized, and integrated cleaning solutions for Photovoltaic (PV) power plants.

Related products of SunPure

The patent involved is an invention patent applied for by Beijing Zhongdian Boson Intelligent Equipment Tech Co., Ltd. on March 6, 2020, with the patent number of 202020268065.5, and a title of "PHOTOVOLTAIC PANEL CLEANING ROBOT". In September 2021, the patentee filed a lawsuit with the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, claiming that the intelligent PV cleaning robot produced by the defendant SunPure Technology Co., Ltd. infringed the patent right thereof, and claimed economic losses and reasonable expenses of more than 1.18 million yuan. At the same time, Zhongdian Boson also listed cooperative enterprises of SunPure as co-defendants, which had a great impact on SunPure's normal business operations, promotion, and manufacturing activities.

Invalidation Procedure

After discussions with the client, Unitalen team decided to initiate the invalidation procedure while actively responding to the infringement lawsuit. On September 18, 2021, Unitalen filed an invalidation request regarding the right of the patent involved with the CNIPA for the first time, explicitly pointing out the grounds and evidences for invalidation that the patent involved did not possess novelty or involve an inventive step, and thus fails to comply with the conditions for granting a patent.

the Drawings of the patent involved

By carefully reviewing the application documents, authorization documents and the examination history documents during the authorization process of the patent involved, Unitalen team determined that the core inventive point of the patent involved is the positional relationship between the walking wheels and the hanging wheels, and parameters such as the wheel diameter and the center distance between the wheels of the photovoltaic panel cleaning robot, so as to improve the photovoltaic panel cleaning robot's ability to overcome obstacles between photovoltaic panels, such that the robot runs more smoothly between the photovoltaic panels. In combination with the evidence of the prior art and the analysis of infringement lawsuits, Unitalen team believed that the difficult point and the focus in the invalidation lies in the portion related to the parameter defining in the dependent claims of the patent involved. As a result, Unitalen team actively collected evidence from various aspects and formulated a comprehensive invalidation strategy. Based on the collection of various evidence and the full statements from multiple perspectives, the Invalidation and Reexamination Department finally adopted the claim of Unitalen team that the parameters defining in the dependent claims were a conventional selection.

The CNIPA deemed that the distinguishing technical features of the claims over the prior art belong to the conventional technical selection of those skilled in the art, and the technical effect thereof can be expected. Therefore, on April 2, 2022, the CNIPA made No. 54999 "Examination Decision on Request for Invalidation", declaring all the right of the patent involved invalid on the grounds that the patent involved lacks inventiveness.

Infringement Litigation Procedure

Regarding the infringement lawsuit brought by Zhongdian Boson with Jinan Intermediate People's Court against SunPure, Unitalen team immediately started the request for invalidation of the patent involved and applied to the CNIPA for expedited acceptance. After receiving the notice of acceptance of the invalidation request from the CNIPA, Unitalen team immediately requested the Jinan Intermediate People's Court to suspend the hearing of this case.

After determining the litigation strategy of the infringement lawsuit with the defense of the prior art as the breakthrough point, Unitalen team actively sought evidence that can be used to prove the relevant prior art, and such evidence can also assist the invalidation request procedure. After the efficient and thorough search of Unitalen team and SunPure, it was finally found that the photovoltaic panel cleaning robot equipped in a solar power station in an industrial park in Tianjin had been put into production in 2017 and the product was equipped with the same technical solution of the patent involved. Moreover, under the repeated communication between Unitalen team and the client and the unremitting efforts, finally a series of supporting material documents was obtained from the operator of the power station, forming a complete and solid chain of evidence to prove the facts.

With the assistance of SunPure, Unitalen team carefully planned for the evidence collection process, and proved from various perspectives that the technical solutions adopted by the patent involved had been disclosed by the products on the market long before the application date of the patent involved. Since the infringement lawsuit has not actually been tried in court, the evidence for publication of the product has not been confirmed by the trial court during the litigation process. However, it is certain that the solid evidence formed by Unitalen team has played a positive role in the invalidation process. Therefore, it is deemed that the technical solutions disclosed in the dependent claims of the patent involved belong to the common knowledge in the art.

In the end, after the CNIPA made the examination decision to declare all the rights of the patent involved invalid, Zhongdian Boson has lost the right basis to file a patent infringement lawsuit. On April 8, 2022, the Jinan Intermediate People's Court ruled to dismiss the plaintiff's lawsuit in accordance with the law, and Unitalen team represented the client winning the case.

Case Influence:

In this case, Unitalen Patent Litigation and Invalidation Team responded quickly and started the litigation and invalidation request procedures at the same time, which cooperated and guaranteed each other. Unitalen team actively searched and discussed repeatedly in the invalidation procedure to form a convincing evidence combination to initiate the invalidation procedure and finally succeeded. Meanwhile, Unitalen team actively promoted the case trial process, and resolved disputes efficiently and quickly only seven months after the other party filed the lawsuit to get rid of the burden of litigation for the client. The two-pronged approach of litigation and invalidation procedures not only won a comprehensive victory for the client, but also protected the client's commercial interests, protected its market operation and promotion, and eliminated the cloud of doubt.