According to the latest news released on the official website of the U.S. International Trade Commission, on March 21, 2019 local time, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted to initiate a 337 investigation on certain semiconductor devices, integrated circuits and consumer products containing the device. .
According to reports, the investigation is based on a complaint filed by Innovative Foundry Technologies LLC. (“IFT”) of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA on February 15, 2019. The company accused BBK, vivo, OPPO, OnePlus, Hisense, TCL, MediaTek, TSMC, Qualcomm and many other related companies for exporting to the United States, importing and selling in the United States, infringing on many of its patent rights (patents). Quan’s US serial numbers are “6,583,012”, “6,797,572”, “7,009,226”, “7,880,236”, and “9,373,548”). Therefore, the U.S. company requested the U.S. ITC to initiate a 337 investigation and issue a limited exclusion order and a prohibition order.
After voting, the US ITC has now initiated the 337 investigation (337-TA-1149), but has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The Chief Administrative Law Judge of ITC will assign the case to one of the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) of ITC, who will be responsible for arranging and holding evidence hearings. ALJ will preliminarily determine whether the company involved has violated Section 337; the preliminary ruling is subject to review by the committee.
Within 45 days after the investigation ends, ITC will make a final decision on the investigation within the shortest possible time. The USITC remedial order in Section 337 becomes effective after it is issued, and becomes the final remedial order within 60 days after issuance, unless it is rejected due to policy reasons within 60 days.
The specific list of companies involved in this case is as follows:
BBK Communication Technology Co., Ltd., of Dongguan, Guangdong, China;
Vivo Mobile Communication Co., Ltd., of Dongguan, Guangdong, China;
OnePlus Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., of Shenzhen, Guangdong, China;
Guangdong OPPO Mobile Telecommunications Co., Ltd., of Dongguan, Guangdong, China;
Hisense Electric Co., Ltd., of Qingdao, China;
Hisense USA Corporation of Suwanee, GA;
Hisense USA Multimedia R & D Center Inc. of Suwanee, GA;
TCL Corporation of Huizhou City, Guangdong, China;
TCL Communication, Inc., of Irvine, CA;
TTE Technology, Inc. (d/b/a TCL America) of Wilmington, DE;
TCT Mobile (US) Inc. of Irvine, CA;
VIZIO, Inc., of Irvine, CA;
MediaTek Inc. of Hsinchu City, Taiwan;
MediaTek USA Inc. of San Jose, CA;
Mstar semiconductor, Inc., of Hsinchu Hsien, Taiwan;
Qualcomm Incorporated of San Diego, CA;
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., of San Diego, CA;
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited of Hsinchu City, Taiwan;
TSMC North America of San Jose, CA; and
TSMC Technology, Inc., of San Jose, CA.
Who is Innovative Foundry Technologies LLC.?
According to official information, IFT was established in 2017 and is mainly engaged in the acquisition, development, licensing and protection of intellectual property rights related to semiconductor manufacturing and packaging technology. At present, it has more than 125 US and foreign patents and patent applications from the pioneer of the semiconductor industry, Advanced Micro Devices. This product portfolio covers several key aspects of semiconductor design and manufacturing, enabling leaders in the automotive, networking, smart devices, and other industries to continue to deploy smaller, more powerful and more cost-effective integrated circuits.
Obviously, from the official introduction materials of IFT, it is not difficult to see that this is a NPE (Non-Practicing Entity), that is, “Non-Practicing Entity” or “Non-Practicing Entity”. Simply put, NPE refers to those organizations that have patents but do not engage in the production of patented products. It can be roughly divided into three types: scientific research NPE, speculative NPE and defensive NPE.
On the other hand, IFT seems to be a speculative NPE, which mainly relies on the acquisition of related patents and makes profits by suing related companies through patent litigation. According to the popular saying in the industry, it is actually a “patent hooligan”. Also known as the “patent hooligan” in the industry.
According to data, on February 18 this year, IFT also filed a complaint in China (Shanghai Intellectual Property Court) against Cisco Systems (China) Network Technology Co., Ltd., Cisco (China) Co., Ltd. and its local distribution partner, Shanghai Huimai Electronic Technology Co., Ltd. Patent litigation. At the same time, lawsuits were filed against Volkswagen AG, Ford-Werke GmbH and Texas Instruments EMEA Sales GmbH in Germany (Düsseldorf District Court, Patent Litigation Chamber). Allegations that the above companies infringed IFT’s semiconductor manufacturing and packaging patents in the automotive and network industries.
Chinese companies need to actively respond to the 337 investigation initiated by IFT against many domestic mobile phone manufacturers. You can file a “patent invalidation application” against IFT’s patents, or provide relevant evidence to prove that the other party’s patents are not infringed. If it really doesn’t work, then the only thing to do is to make money and eliminate disasters. After all, the other party is just for money.