Cogenra Solar & Khosla Ventures sue SolarCity for intellectual property theft

This is yet another hurdle in Tesla Motor’s path on its stated plans of acquiring SolarCity.

Embattled SolarCity is facing a new battle: it has now been accused by Cogenra Solar Inc., owned by SunPower Corporation and Khosla Ventures of intellectual property theft.

On Monday, in a lawsuit filed by SunPower Corporation and Khosla Ventures, SolarCity has been accused of gaining undue advantage of Cogenra’s shingling’s technology which helps it to manufacture high-efficiency, commercially viable solar panels.

Cogenra’s lawsuit states that SolarCity and its subsidiary, Silevo, of misappropriation of Cogenra’s manufacturing processes, trade secrets, and other intellectual properties, in order to avail competitive advantage and a headstart in developing shingled-cell solar modules.

Significantly, last week, SolarCity had stated that it has discovered that a former employee had unlawfully downloaded confidential information, had copied it to a personal hard drive, and then had joined SunPower as a senior sales manager.

“Any unauthorized copying and use of this information is a very serious violation of SolarCity’s intellectual property rights so we immediately notified SunPower,” said SolarCity in a statement.

SolarCity has made it clear that Cogenra’s lawsuit has failed to identify the actual trade secret that it owns, much less the one(s) that SolarCity has supposedly misappropriated.

As per the lawsuit, Khosla Ventures a venture capital firm, owned around 80% of Cogenra from 2009 to 2015.

Incidentally, last week Tesla’s proposed acquisition of SolarCity hit a snag when shareholder’s filed a lawsuit alleging that board members breached their fiduciary duty.

Cogenra’s lawsuit relates to the United States District Court Northern District Of California San Francisco Division, Case number 3:16-cv-05481.


Categories: Entrepreneurship, HR & Organization, Regulations & Legal, Strategy, Sustainability


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