• Leviton Files New 337 Complaint Regarding Certain Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters
  • September 10, 2010 | Authors: Alexander E. Gasser; Eric W. Schweibenz
  • Law Firm: Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, L.L.P. - Alexandria Office
  • On September 3, 2010, Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc. (”Leviton”) of Melville, New York, filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

    The complaint alleges that manufacturers Fujian Hongan Electric Co, Ltd. of China, General Protecht Group, Inc. of China, Shanghai ELE Manufacturing Corporation of China, Zhejiang Trimone Co. Ltd. of China, and Zhejiang Easting House Electric Co. of China, and downstream distributors/resellers Menard, Inc. of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Garvin Industries, Inc. of Franklin Park, Illinois, Central Purchasing, LLC of Camarillo, California, Harbor Freight Tools USA, Inc., of Camarillo, California, Warehouse-Lighting.com LLC of Muskego, Wisconsin, SecurElectric Corporation of Atlanta, Georgia, G-Techt Global Corporation, of Atlanta, Georgia, Frontier Lighting, Inc. of Clearwater, Florida, The Designers Edge, Inc. of Bellevue, Washington, Orbit Industries, Inc. of Los Angeles, California, Ready Wholesale Electric and Lighting, Inc. of Reseda, California, Sutherland Lumber Company of Kansas City, LLC, of Kansas City, Missouri, W.E. Aubuchon Co., Inc. of Westminster, Massachusetts, Westside Wholesale Electric & Lighting, Inc. of Los Angeles, California, Deerso, Inc. of Cape Coral, Florida, New Aspen Devices Corp. of Brooklyn, New York, American Ace Supply Inc. of San Francisco, California, Safety Plus Products, Inc. of McFarland, Wisconsin, Ingram Products, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, American Electric Depot Inc. of Fresh Meadows, New York, Contractor Lighting & Supply, Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, Interline Brands, Inc., d/b/a AF Lighting of Jacksonville, Florida, Royal Pacific Ltd. of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Littman Bros. Energy Supplies, Inc. of Schaumburg, Illinois, Norcross Electric Supply Company of Suwanee, Georgia (collectively, the “Proposed Respondents”) through the unlicensed importation, sale for importation, and/or sale after importation into the United States of certain ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and products containing the same infringe certain claims in U.S. Patent Nos. 7,463,124 (the ‘124 patent),  7,737,809 (the ‘809 patent), and 7,764,151 (the ‘151 patent) (collectively, “asserted patents”).

    The complaint describes each of the asserted patents as generally relating to isolating conductors in a GFCI to protect against problems arising from a reverse wired GFCI, as well as a condition called “reset lockout,” which protects against a GFCI that is damaged and can no longer provide protections from a ground fault.  The complaint states that the technology describes separately isolated line, face and load conductive paths, each of which separate if the GFCI trips, so there is no power to the face, and if the device is reset, the line terminal, load terminal and face are electronically reconnected.  With respect to the “reset lockout” condition, the complaint describes an arrangement wherein unless the device that separates the contacts is still working, the conductive paths cannot be reconnected.

    With respect to the technical prong of the domestic industry requirement, the complaint alleges that all of Leviton’s GFCIs practice at least one claim of each of the asserted patents, and that at least one of its licensees sells in the United States GFCIs that practice at least the ‘124 patent and the ‘809 patent.  With respect to the economic prong, Leviton alleges that it has made substantial investments and employment of labor and capital in the United States in research and development, engineering, design, testing, quality assurance, manufacturing processes, distribution, purchasing, marketing, sales and licensing for GFCIs, including those that practice the claims of the asserted patents.

    With respect to related litigation the complaint states that it contemporaneously filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Proposed Respondents for infringement of the asserted patents.   The complaint further identifies eleven prior litigations concerning patents related to the asserted patents, some of which involved certain of the Proposed Respondents.

    Regarding potential remedy, Leviton seeks a general exclusion order pursuant to Section 337(d), or in the alternative a permanent limited exclusion order, and a permanent cease-and-desist order pursuant to Section 337(f) directed to the Proposed Respondents.