By Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

The U.S. Department of Energy has moved to block the sale of solar panel manufacturing patents to Chinese companies in a move that could have implications for future foreign acquisition of technology it helps to fund.

DOE attorneys argued in the bankruptcy case of Evergreen Solar that the government has ownership rights on its technology and the U.S. intends to "prevent foreign entities from gaining control over federally funded technology and competing with American industry unfairly."

Chinese government funding of its solar industry has been blamed for playing a major role in problems that U.S. companies have had. It was cited in the bankruptcy of Evergreen and in Fremont-based Solyndra LLC.

The judge in the Evergreen case has been told that most of the potential buyers of Evergreen's assets, including its patents, are from Asia and many are from China.

Potential bidders must sign up for a planned Nov. 1 auction by Oct. 26.

Solyndra is also planning to auction off its assets at the end of the month while under bankruptcy protection. The U.S. has asked the court to appoint a trustee in that case rather than let the company control the auction.

The U.S. gave Solyndra $535 million in loans and guarantees last year.

Written by Cromwell Schubarth. Contact him at cschubarth@bizjournals.com or 408.299.1823.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

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