The Commission has received over a dozen third-party submissions commenting on a wide range of public interest issues. Some of the comments were a bit over the top.
On November 30, the ITC issued a Final Determination in Robotic Vacuum Cleaning Devices (Inv. 1057) upholding the ALJ's finding of violation and issuing exclusion orders and cease and desist orders against all remaining respondents.
Complainant iRobot makes the popular Roomba brand of robot vacuums and holds a number of patents related to that technology. Original respondents included Hoover, iLife, Black & Decker, Bissell, and a number of Chinese manufacturers. Due to a series of settlements, however, Black & Decker, Bissel, and iLife were dropped from the investigation.
In August, the Commission issued an opinion affirming a summary determination that iRobot satisfied the economic prong of the domestic industry test. That opinion, discussed in an earlier post, helped clarify how research and development costs can be used to establish a domestic industry.
Ultimately, iRobot was found to have satisfied the domestic industry test under both 337(a)(3)(B)—"significant employment of labor and capital"—and 337(a)(3)(C)—"substantial investment in . . . exploitation [of the patented technology through] engineering, research and development, or licensing."
Another summary determination in this investigation is currently under appeal at the Federal Circuit. iRobot has challenged one of the ALJ's claim construction decisions that resulted in a summary determination of noninfringment and termination of one of the patents from the investigation. That appeal is still ongoing, as are iRobot's district court lawsuits against non-settling respondents.
The ITC issued a notice on November 16 of the Commission’s final determination in Two-Way Radio Equipment (Inv. 1053). The final determination found that Hytera violated Section 337 by importing walkie-talkies that infringe patents held by Motorola.
Motorola's patent complaint at the ITC was part of a broader campaign accusing Hytera of trade secret theft by hiring three former Motorola engineers to copy Motorola's technology. Those employees were called to testify during the ITC investigation, but refused to answer any questions—invoking their fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. The behavior prompted the ALJ to apply an adverse inference against Hytera on the question of induced infringement, a decision that was upheld by the Commission on review.
Despite the finding of violation, Hytera issued a press release declaring the ITC outcome as a victory. That's because the final determination also reversed some important findings from the initial determination that originally went against Hytera. In particular, the Commission found that Hytera's redesigned products do no infringe any of the patents in suit. This is very good news for Hytera. Because an exclusion order will only apply to older models, they can continue to sell the newer products in the United States.
Motorola is still pursuing both patent and trade secret claims against Hytera in district court.
Photo credit: Craig A. Rodway