• Sharp Files New 337 Complaint Regarding Certain Liquid Crystal Display Devices
  • January 28, 2011 | Author: Eric W. Schweibenz
  • Law Firm: Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, L.L.P. - Alexandria Office
  • On January 24, 2011, Sharp Corporation of Japan (“Sharp”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

    The complaint alleges that the following entities (collectively, the “Proposed Respondents”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and sell within the U.S. after importation certain liquid crystal display devices and products containing the same that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,879,364 (the ‘364 patent), 7,304,626 (the ‘626 patent), 7,532,183 (the ‘183 patent), 7,283,192 (the ‘192 patent), 6,937,300 (the ‘300 patent), 7,057,689 (the ‘689 patent), and 7,838,881 (the ‘881 patent) (collectively, the “asserted patents”) or are manufactured using a process covered by the asserted patents:

    • AU Optronics Corp. of Taiwan
    • AU Optronics Corporation America of Houston, Texas
    • BenQ America Corp. of Irvine, California
    • BenQ Corporation of Taiwan
    • Haier America Trading LLC of New York, New York
    • Haier Group Company of China
    • LG Electronics Inc. of South Korea
    • LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc. of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
    • SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. of Japan
    • SANYO North America Corporation of San Diego, California
    • TCL Corporation of China
    • TTE Technology, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana
    • VIZIO, Inc. of Irvine, California

    According to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to various aspects of liquid crystal display devices, including but not limited to, LCD panels and LCD modules.  In particular, the ‘364 patent relates to a liquid crystal display apparatus having negative type liquid crystal between a pair of substrates and structures for controlling alignment of the liquid crystal in order to improve viewing characteristics.  The ‘626 patent relates to a liquid crystal display device including switching devices (e.g., TFTs).  The ‘183 patent relates to an LCD device and its drive method, and in particular to a driving technique which improves the response time of substantially vertically aligned (VA) type LCDs.  The ‘192 patent relates to an LCD device having improved viewing characteristics at wide viewing angles.  The ‘300 patent relates to a method of fabricating a liquid crystal display device.  The ‘689 patent relates to a liquid crystal display device having a wide viewing angle, including a liquid crystal cell having a pair of substrates and a liquid crystal layer interposed between the substrates.  Finally, the ‘881 patent relates to an active matrix substrate for use in connection with a display device such as a liquid crystal display.

    In the complaint, Sharp alleges that the Proposed Respondents import and sell products that infringe the asserted patents or are manufactured using processes that infringe the asserted patents.  The complaint names a number of specific infringing LCD devices that have been imported and/or sold by the Proposed Respondents.  In particular, the complaint alleges that AU Optronics Corp. and AU Optronics Corporation America (collectively, “AUO”) manufacture LCD devices in China and that AUO and the remaining Proposed Respondents import and sell products that incorporate these AUO LCD devices.

    Regarding domestic industry, Sharp states that it has made significant investments in the U.S. relating to the asserted patents through its licensing activities, including litigation.  Sharp further states that it has established a domestic industry through its research and development of the patented LCD technology and after-market support for LCD products that embody the asserted patents.  The complaint names Sharp Electronics Corporation of Mahwah, New Jersey and Sharp Laboratories of America, Inc. of Camas, Washington as wholly-owned subsidiaries that conduct significant research and development, manufacturing, and technical support activities in the U.S.

    As to related litigation, Sharp notes that the ITC previously upheld the validity and enforceability of the ‘364 and ‘626 patents and the parent to the ‘183 patent in connection with Inv. No. 337-TA-634, where Sharp had alleged that Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Samsung Electronics America, Inc., and Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. (collectively, “Samsung”) had violated Section 337.  See our November 10, 2009 post for more details.  Sharp states that following the Final Initial and Recommended Determinations in the ‘634 investigation, Samsung agreed to take a license to Sharp’s patents.  Sharp further states that it asserted the ‘192 patent, among others, in Inv. No. 337-TA-702, but that the parties settled that investigation shortly after it was instituted.  See our March 1, 2010 post for more details.  Additionally, Sharp states that it was involved in litigation against Samsung Ltd. and certain Samsung subsidiaries relating to the ‘689 patent in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.  That litigation was dismissed in February 2010 pursuant to a settlement agreement.  Finally, Sharp states that concurrently with the filing of the instant ITC complaint, it is filing a civil action against AUO in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware alleging infringement of the same seven asserted patents.

    With respect to potential remedy, Sharp requests that the Commission issue a limited exclusion order and a permanent cease and desist order directed at the Proposed Respondents.