Pssst…Wanna Buy Some Solar Panels?

Knockoffs aren’t just for high-end fashion and electronics anymore. Suntech Power Holdings says that you need to check the label before you make a deal on your next shipment of solar panels — they could be fakes. Wuxi, China-based Suntech today said it has been granted preliminary injunctions in Germany against a company and two of its distributors, prohibiting them from selling products with the Suntech brand.

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And it looks like Suntech’s home country of China is the source of the fake solar products. The injunctions are against a company called Suntech Power Holding (Hongkong) Co. Ltd., which has no connection to the real Suntech. Maybe the panels are coming out of the same factories that churn out those Pamasonic DVD players and Grucci handbags.

But like those other knockoffs, the fake solar panels probably don’t offer the same quality as the originals. You may think you’re getting a bargain, but what happens when your fakes aren’t pulling in as much energy as your neighbor, or they turn a weird color in the rain, or worse, when your smart meter narcs you out to the feds?

Suntech certainly isn’t too happy about the situation, and said that although there have only been what it calls “isolated cases” of these knockoffs being sold, it plans to vigorously pursue the companies selling them.

Last August, Suntech took on the similarly named Sun Tech Solar and its Chinese parent company, with the Green Patent Blog reporting that Suntech sued the competitor in federal court in San Diego, alleging infringement of trademark and unfair competition. Suntech was also peeved that Sun Tech Solar was going to be showing up at the then-upcoming Solar Power Conference & Expo and tried to get the court to close down Sun Tech Solar’s booth.

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