US DOE Attempts to Block Evergreen Solar Patents Sale

Massachusetts based Evergreen Solar Inc filed for bankruptcy and its assets will soon be up for auction to the highest bidder. However, the United States Department of Energy is moving to prevent the sale of a particular patent held by Evergreen Solar. Researchers at the bankrupt solar company developed a patented method of manufacturing solar cells which reduced costs by 33%. This research was funded by approximately $3 million in federal loans from the DOE and also used government controlled laboratories.

Since the research was funded and assisted by the DOE agency officials are claiming that the government has ownership rights which limit Evergreen Solar from selling the patents. Court documents filed by the DOE show that their intent is to “prevent foreign entities from gaining control over federally funded technology and competing with American industry unfairly.”

Many foreign interests have expressed a desire to obtain these assets particularly Chinese solar manufacturing companies. Evergreen Solar cited China’s government subsidies of their solar industry as a reason for the bankruptcy which has been a trend for US solar companies. Even beleaguered 1705 loan recipient Solyndra blamed foreign competition in its Chapter 11 filings.

A decision regarding the supposed DOE ownership rights over Evergreen Solar’s patent will need to be finalized quickly as the auction starts November 1st.



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