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Obama Inaction Upholds ITC Ruling For Funai

Funai celebrated President Obama’s failure to overrule a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling last week that Vizio stop importing televisions that infringe on its patents for receiving digital over-the-air TV broadcasts.

Under the Section 337 statute, Obama had a 60-day period, which ended last week, in which to overrule the ITC and revise the order and failed to do so.

The ITC issued a final determination and remedy order on April 10, finding that Vizio and other respondents infringe Funai’s digital television patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,115,074).

The ITC also ruled that 10 other companies and their subsidiaries also violated the Funai patents in television imports.

Funai said the following companies are now barred from importing or selling infringing digital television products in the U.S.: Vizio, Inc., formerly known as V. Inc. (U.S.); AmTRAN Technology (Taiwan); Proview International Holdings (Hong Kong); Proview Technology (Shenzhen); Proview Technology (U.S.); TPV Technology (Hong Kong); TPV International (U.S.A.); Top Victory Electronics (Taiwan); Envision Peripherals, Inc. (U.S.); Syntax-Brillian (U.S.); and Taiwan Kolin (Taiwan).

“The digital televisions that are now subject to the ITC’s remedy orders are sold under the following brands: Vizio, Proview, AOC, Olevia and Envision, among others,” Funai said.

Vizio responded last Wednesday by saying that its TV models that were ruled in violation of the 6,115,074 patent are “now obsolete” and “no longer shipping and no longer in production” and added, “Vizio believes that the claims of infringement are meritless,” according to a company statement.

Vizio said at press time it would continue to fight Funai “on all possible avenues to protect its rights,” including filing an appeal on June 10, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; will seek emergency relief from the Federal Circuit to stay the enforcement of the ITC’s Exclusion Order pending appeal; and has also presented its non-infringing technical solution to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Vizio has also filed a separate lawsuit against Funai alleging that the Japanese manufacturer “has violated the federal Sherman Antitrust Act, the Clayton Act, and numerous provisions of California’s unfair competition and antitrust law by unlawfully and unfairly [discriminating] against Vizio in the licensing and enforcement of the ‘074 patent, to the detriment of trade and commerce.”

Vizio said it now produces and distributes televisions designed with a non-infringing technical solution, which excludes the allegedly infringing feature from the chipsets in its television products.

“Since the ITC’s limited exclusion order applies only to chipsets that contain the allegedly infringing feature, Vizio believes their customers will continue to receive a continued supply of Vizio’s television products,” the company said.