Launches investigation
Re TV patents

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has announced an investigation of Certain Products Containing Interactive Program Guide And Parental Controls Technology.

The investigation is based on a complaint from Rovi Corporation and its subsidiaries  Rovi Guides, Gemstar, and Index Systems.  The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by respondents Vizio, Inc., Haier Group, and Haier American Trading.  Vizio is a US company and the Haier companies are based in China.

The complainants allege that these companies, which make televisions and Blu-Ray players, are violating several of their patents, specifically U.S. Patent Nos. 7,493,643, RE41,993, 6,701,523, and 7,047,547.  The patents relate to interactive program guides and parental controls.

The ‘643 and ‘993 patents were the subject of litigation between Rovi and Sharp, which was settled.  The ‘523 patent was the subject of litigation with Toshiba, which was resolved by Toshiba taking a license.  Litigation with Amazon involving the ‘643 patent  is still pending.  The ‘523 patent is the subject of two pending examinations.

Vizio was a former licensee of Rovi’s patents, but the license expired earlier this year.  Rovi says it has attempted to negotiate licenses with all of the respondents.

The complainants seek an exclusion order and a cease-and-desist order barring import and sale of the accused devices.

The USITC will set a target date for completing its investigation within 45 days. If the complaint is approved, the ITC will ban the import of the products.

Chinese media have linked the investigation into the Chinese-made products to US “protectionism” related to the “sluggish economic recovery” and suggested that an import ban would hurt US-China trade relations.

The complaint can be found here.

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