Lots of stories this morning about the bankruptcy filing of solar panel maker Solyndra. Most of the attention is on the fact that the company received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
As I noted in an earlier posting, the Department of Energy likes to have companies put up their intellectual property as collateral on these loans. The DOE's suggestions on how to make application stronger includes following:
Access to IP in a default scenario. Where proprietary technology is essential to the operation of a project, a willingness to assign those intellectual property rights to the DOE as collateral in the event of default also strengthens the application. The purpose of providing DOE access to the company's IP is to allow DOE to continue operating the project in a default scenario.
So, my question is: as Solyndra goes through the bankruptcy process, who gets the IP? Did Solyndra put up their IP as collateral? Will DOE step in and assume operational control? I doubt that. It may be in this case, the IP was not considered "essential" to the project. But it will be interesting to see whether the IP shows up in the bankruptcy filings.
One other point, the regulations also require a "listing and description of assets associated, or to be associated, with the project and any other asset that will serve as collateral for the Guaranteed Obligations, including appropriate data as to the value of the assets . . ." If the IP does show up in the bankruptcy filing, it will be interesting in see how it is valued versus what it was valued at in the loan application.