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Patent Office Denies Second Funai Claim

Irvine, Calif. — The U.S. Patent Office issued a second rejection of claims in Funai Electric’s complaint against TV maker Vizio for breaching its U.S. Patent No. 5,329,369 covering certain ATSC digital tuner technology, Vizio announced Monday.

“Based on this second rejection by the Patent Office, we believe that Funai’s ’369 patent will ultimately be deemed invalid by the Patent Office,” stated Rob L. Brinkman, Vizio’s operations and administration VP stated.

However, in commenting Tuesday on the action, a representative for Funai corporate in Japan said the company received notice last week from the PTO regarding its further evaluation the ‘369 Patent, and that the proceedings at the PTO are not yet complete.
“As scheduled, Funai will have an interview with the PTO later this month,” according to the statement.”The PTO’s latest notification refines its position regarding the ’369 patent, and Funai will be responding to the PTO regarding one specific reference that relates to validity of the ‘369 patent.  Funai remains confident that, at the conclusion of the PTO’s reexamination proceedings, the ’369 patent will be upheld as valid.”In addition, Funai said it has also filed a complaint before the International Trade Commission, where last November an Administrative Law Judge held that respondents Vizio, AmTRAN Technology, and nine other respondents infringe Funai’s U.S. Patent No. 6,115,074 as well as the ’369 patent. 
“Funai expects that the ITC’s final determination will be issued by April 10, 2009.”
Concerning the PTO action Vizio co-founder and sales and marketing communications VP Laynie Newsome said: “We are pleased that after reexamination of Funai’s claims, the Patent Office has issued a second rejection of Funai’s ’369 patent. It is Vizio’s policy to respect the rights of intellectual property, thoroughly investigate all claims, and vigorously defend our legal rights when we feel a claim is invalid or not infringed. Unfortunately, we are not immune to lawsuits and we will defend ourselves as appropriate at all times.”