Yesterday, Administrative Law Judge David P. Shaw issued a Notice of Initial Determination in In the Matter of Certain Audiovisual Components and Products Containing Same (No. 337-TA-837), an ITC Section 337 investigation based on an infringement complaint brought by LSI and Agere against Funai, Realtek, and Mediatek (who had previously settled out of the case).
The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) is a quasi-judicial agency with broad investigative powers relating to trade practices. These powers include the ability to investigate unfair trade practices relating to the importation of products that infringe valid U.S. patents — so-called “Section 337 actions” (Section 337 actions can encompass other conduct, but are commonly used to target patent infringement). But because the ITC may only issue injunctive relief (via exclusion orders and cease & desist orders), and cannot award monetary damages, the assertion of standard-essential patents in Section 337 actions has become a subject of great debate. Within about a month, the Commission will issue a Final Determination in Investigation No. 337-TA-794 (involving Samsung and Apple) that may address the propriety of asserting FRAND-pledged SEPs in Section 337 actions. In the meantime, however, there are several ongoing ITC investigations where standard-essential patents are being asserted. Below is a brief summary of where each of these cases currently stand: