RSC Files New 337 Complaint And Moves For Preliminary Relief Regarding Certain Electronic Bark Control Collars

On January 14, 2013, Radio Systems Corporation of Knoxville, Tennessee (“RSC”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.  RSC also filed a motion for preliminary relief with the complaint.

The complaint alleges that Sunbeam Products, Inc. d/b/a Jarden Consumer Solutions of Boca Raton, Florida (“Sunbeam”) unlawfully imports into the U.S., sells for importation, and/or sells within the U.S. after importation certain electronic bark control collars that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,927,233 (the ‘233 patent).

According to the complaint, the ‘233 patent generally relates to a bark control system that includes a vibration sensor and a microphone either operating independently or in tandem, with the vibration gating the microphone.  The output of the vibration sensor and the microphone are processed to discriminate the target dog’s (that is, the dog wearing the collar) bark from other noises (such as another dog’s bark).  When the discrimination result indicates that the sound is a bark, a stimulus delivery device applies a corrective stimulus (e.g., electrostatic shock, ultrasonic pulse, spray, or vibration).  Each bark sampled replaces the bark previously stored, permitting the bark control system to adapt to any repetitive bark sequence of the target dog.  Lastly, a stimulus intensity selection circuit provides a variable intensity for the corrective stimulus.

In the complaint, RSC states that Sunbeam imports and sells products that infringe the ‘233 patent.  The complaint specifically refers to Sunbeam’s Advanced Bark Control Collar – Static, Advanced Bark Control Collar – Ultrasonic, and Mini Bark Control Collar – Static as infringing products.

Regarding domestic industry, RSC states that many of its bark control collars sold under the PetSafe® and SportDOG® brands practice the ‘233 patent.  RSC further states that it has made substantial investments in the U.S. in the exploitation of the ‘233 patent, including engineering, research and development, testing, and repair and service relating to products protected by the ‘233 patent.  RSC specifically refers to its facility in Knoxville, Tennessee, where it employs the majority of its 481 U.S. employees. 

As to related litigation, RSC states that on December 14, 2012, it filed a civil action against Sunbeam in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee alleging infringement of the ‘233 patent.  RSC further states that it is seeking a preliminary injunction against Sunbeam in the district court.

With respect to potential remedy, RSC requests that the Commission issue a preliminary exclusion order, a permanent exclusion order, a preliminary cease and desist order, and a permanent cease and desist order directed at Sunbeam, its affiliates, and other acting on its behalf.

In the motion for preliminary relief filed with the complaint, RSC argues that (A) it is more likely than not to succeed on the merits of its claims; (B) Sunbeam’s actions will likely cause irreparable harm to RSC, its domestic industry, and its exclusive rights in the ‘233 patent; (C) the balance of harms in granting preliminary relief weighs in RSC’s favor; and (D) the public interest weighs in favor of granting preliminary relief.  RSC accordingly requests that the Commission set a procedural schedule for the temporary relief phase of the investigation and a date for a preliminary evidentiary hearing, which is expected to last approximately two days.  RSC further requests that the Commission issue a preliminary exclusion order and a preliminary cease and desist order.  RSC also requests that the Commission waive the requirement of a bond.

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