Wind Case Wends Through Chinese Courts, Perhaps to China Supremes


In previous posts (here and here), I discussed the IP litigation in China between American Superconductor (AMSC) and Chinese wind energy system maker Sinovel.

The of heart of the dispute is AMSC’s allegations that Sinovel misappropriated its propietary software code for controlling wind turbines and power converters.  

Specifcally, AMSC accuses Sinovel of copyright infringement and theft of trade secrets by Sinovel’s unauthorized use of the turbine control software source code and the binary code, or upper layer, of its software for the PM3000 power converters used with Sinovel’s 1.5 MW turbines.  The control software was developed by AMSC for use with Sinovel’s turbines.

The litigation has involved four separate actions by AMSC in various forums in China.

At least one of those lawsuits has begun its ascent through the Chinese appellate courts. 

Earlier this month, the Hainan Supreme Court affirmed a lower court decision dismissing AMSC’s copyright infringement action.  The Hainan Province No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court had thrown out AMSC’s suit on jurisdictional grounds after Sinovel filed a motion to dismiss in December.  

In the motion, Sinovel argued that the case should be governed by the Beijing Arbitration Commission, which is hearing separate contractual disputes between AMSC and Sinovel.

According to this Recharge piece, the Hainan case was brought against Dalian Guotong, a power converter maker partially owned by Sinovel, and Huaneng Hainan Power Company.

This action is AMSC’s smallest case by dollar amount, in which the company had requested about $200,000 in damages as well as a cease and desist order.

Nevertheless, AMSC has filed an appeal with China’s highest court, the Supreme People’s Court.  Recharge reports that AMSC did not receive any immediate indication as to when, or even if, the China Supremes will grant the appeal and hear the case.

We will continue to follow these cases as the effectiveness of intellectual property enforcement in China remains an open question of increasing importance to the clean tech industry.

Eric Lane Avatar

Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.