In 2002, the Fraunhofer ISE patented the HERIC circuit for highly efficient inverters. Since then, the institute says, it has recorded out-of-court settlements in seven patent infringement lawsuits against companies from China, Taiwan and Germany.

From pv magazine Germany

Highly Efficient and Reliable Inverter Concept (HERIC) is the name of a circuit and the associated process that Heribert Schmidt and his colleagues from Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE invented in 2002 and that is protected by patents in Europe and the USA. According to the research institute, the topology is used in single-phase inverters, for example in photovoltaic roof systems, and enables very high efficiencies of up to 99% with low interference emissions with little additional effort, compared to conventional inverters. In addition to the higher energy yield, the advantages are lower thermal stress for the components, smaller heat sinks, and longer service life.

The Fraunhofer ISE estimates that more than 80% of all single-phase inverters used worldwide are based on its HERIC topology, although in many cases its use is not allowed. “A large number of manufacturers have used the circuitry or the process in its original form or in modified versions that nevertheless infringe the patent without the consent of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The latter was confirmed by the Munich I Regional Court,” said Fraunhofer ISE in a statement.

The institute said it has secured seven patent infringement settlements against companies from China, Taiwan and Germany, all of them out-of-court. As a result of the settlements, Fraunhofer ISE receives payments for the licensing of its HERIC topology and the companies making the payments are allowed to continue selling their products.

“The infringement of IP rights of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is, therefore, not worthwhile for infringers. IP from Germany is in many products of the photovoltaic industry and not infrequently the patents on them are infringed. We are prepared to take action against patent infringements,” said Andreas Bett, director of the Fraunhofer ISE. “As the infringement proceedings have shown, it would also have been economically worthwhile for the companies concerned to take care of a license at an early stage.”