Cogenra Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of the SunPower Corporation and Khosla Ventures has accused greentech startup SolarCity of intellectual property (IP) theft. A lawsuit has been filed in San Francisco regarding the matter.
As reported by Reuters, SolarCity is suspected to have gained undue advantage of Cogenra’s ‘shingling technology’ which is used for manufacturing commercially viable, high-energy solar panels. The lawsuit has identified Khosla Ventures as owning 80% of Cogenra from 2009-2015.
In the official statement pertaining to the stolen technology, Cogenra claims that trade secrets, manufacturing processes, and other IP were misappropriated by SolarCity and Silevo, a subsidiary, in order to get ahead in developing shingled-cell solar modules.
According to a Bloomberg report, Cogenra had looked for potential buyers before being acquired by SunPower in 2015. Several companies , including SolarCity, had expressed interest in an acquisition. During this time, SolarCity obtained confidential information as part of the due diligence process, said two unnamed sources, familiar with the matter.
In a counterclaim, SolarCity stated that it had recently discovered that an ex-employee had illegally downloaded confidential information, copied said information to a personal drive, and joined SunPower in a senior position.
“Any unauthorised copying and use of this information is a very serious violation of SolarCity’s intellectual property rights so we immediately notified SunPower,” SolarCity said, in a statement. SolarCity further added that Cogenra’s complaint failed to identify any actual IP Cogenra owns, much less one that SolarCity has allegedly misappropriated.
The beleaguered SolarCity is not short of trouble when last week Tesla stated that its proposed acquisition of SolarCity could be delayed due to shareholder lawsuits alleging a breach of fiduciary duty by its Board Members.
This development was reported on Reuters.