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FoCo’s Ampt seeks import ban on alleged patent infringers 

FORT COLLINS — Ampt LLC, a Fort Collins-based developer of power-conversion technology for photovoltaic systems at solar power plants, has requested that the U.S. International Trade Commission investigate a competitor that it alleges is importing goods that infringe upon Ampt patents, and the commission has obliged. 

The quasi-judicial federal agency is investigating SolarEdge Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: SEDG), a company with operations in California and Israel, for allegedly profiting from power optimizers for solar panels and inverters for solar power systems that Ampt claims violate its intellectual property rights.

Ampt, represented by Greenberg Traurig LLP, has also filed infringement claims in U.S. District Court in Delaware.

“We appreciate the commission’s decision to investigate SolarEdge’s unlawful use of our proprietary technology without asking our permission or compensating us,” Ampt CEO Levent Gun said in a prepared statement. “Today marks the first step toward ensuring fair competition in the United States, and stopping SolarEdge from violating our hard-earned, patented technology.”

The commission, in its written decision to investigate Ampt’s claims, said, “By instituting this investigation, the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The USITC’s chief administrative law judge will assign the case to one of the USITC’s administrative law judges, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. …The USITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the USITC will set a target date for completing the investigation.”

Ampt isn’t the only local company to turn to the USITC for help fending off alleged knock-off artists and IP infringers. 

In July, Crocs Inc.’s (Nasdaq: CROX) obtained judgments against counterfeiters USA Dawgs Inc. and Double Diamond Distribution Ltd. of $6 million and $55,000, respectively, ending a case first brought by Crocs in 2006 that had kicked around between the U.S. International Trade Commission, U.S. District Courts and appellate bodies. 

In innovative economic environments such as Northern Colorado and the Boulder Valley, companies from consumer-packaged goods manufacturers to pharmaceutical firms regularly experience infringement attempts, and vigilance is required to protect trademarks, copyrights, brands and other types of intellectual property. 

“Intellectual property is a game of cat and mouse sometimes,” attorney David Kerr, co-founder of Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP’s intellectual property practice group, told BizWest in a July interview. 

Source: BizWest