On July 14, 2021, the ITC issued a Notice of Investigation in Certain Silicon Photovoltaic Cells and Modules With Nanostructures, and Products Containing the Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-1271).

By way of background, this investigation is based on a June 11, 2021 complaint (see Part I, Part II) filed by Advanced Silicon Group Technologies, LLC of Lowell, Massachusetts (“ASGT”) alleging a violation of section 337 by 28 respondents associated with Canadian Solar, Hanwha (Korea), and Boviet (Vietnam) in the unlawful importation and/or sale in the U.S. of certain silicon photovoltaic cells and modules with nanostructures, and products containing the same by reason of infringement of certain claims of U.S. Patent No. 8,450,599 (“the ʼ599 patent”); U.S. Patent No. 8,852,981 (“the ʼ981 patent”); U.S. Patent No. 9,601,640 (“the ʼ640 patent”); U.S. Patent No. 9,768,331 (“the ʼ331 patent”); U.S. Patent No. 10,269,995 (“the ʼ995 patent”); and U.S. Patent No. 10,692,971 (“the ʼ971 patent”).

According to the complaint, the ʼ599 patent relates to an improved version of a photovoltaic (solar) cell; the ʼ981 and ’640 patents relate to an improved process for forming electrical contacts on nanostructured silicon surfaces; the ʼ331 patent relates to a nanostructured silicon device with screen printed electrical contacts; the ʼ995 patent relates to a silicon device with nanostructures disposed on the surface of the substrate; and the ʼ971 patent relates to a chemical process for forming nanostructures on the surface of a polycrystalline silicon (i.e., polysilicon) substrate. The accused products are silicon photovoltaic cells and modules in which at least one surface of the photovoltaic cell has nanostructures, nanowires, or both. ASGT is requesting that the Commission issue limited exclusion orders and permanent cease-and-desist orders directed to respondents. According to the Notice of Investigation, the Office of Unfair Import Investigations will participate as a party in the investigation. Lastly, Chief ALJ Charles E. Bullock issued a notice indicating that ALJ David P. Shaw will preside in the investigation.