By Eric Schweibenz
On June 1, 2011, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. of Korea (“Samsung”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that AU Optronics Corp. of Taiwan and AU Optronics Corporation America of Houston, Texas (collectively, “AUO”), Acer America Corporation of San Jose, California, Acer Inc. of Taiwan, BenQ America Corp. of Irvine, California, BenQ Corp. of Taiwan, SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. of Japan, and SANYO North America Corporation of San Diego, California (all collectively, the “Proposed Respondents”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain liquid crystal display devices and products containing same that infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 6,771,344 (the ‘344 patent), 6,882,375 (the ‘375 patent), 7,535,537 (the ‘537 patent), 7,787,087 (the ‘087 patent), and RE41,363 (the ‘363 patent) (collectively, the “asserted patents”).

According to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to various aspects of liquid crystal display devices.  In particular, the ‘344 patent relates to the formation and design of liquid crystal display electrodes to allow for a wider viewing angle.  The ‘375 patent relates to a repair structure implemented in a liquid crystal display that helps reduce the visibility of pixel defects.  The ‘537 patent relates to a specific structural organization for creating slimmer LCD modules.  The ‘363 patent relates to an improved thin-film transistor (TFT) substrate design for LCDs.  Lastly, the ‘087 patent relates to dividing a pixel into multiple domains, with the liquid crystal molecules in each domain oriented at a different tilt angle.

In the complaint, Samsung alleges that the Proposed Respondents import and sell products that infringe the asserted patents.  In particular, the complaint alleges that AUO imports and sells certain infringing liquid crystal display panels and that the remaining Proposed Respondents import and sell various televisions, computer monitors, and laptop computers that contain the infringing AUO liquid crystal display panels.

Regarding domestic industry, Samsung states that together with its wholly owned subsidiary Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (“SEA”), Samsung makes significant investments in plant and equipment, employs significant labor and capital, and makes substantial investments in engineering control, testing, and validation in the U.S. in connection with products that embody the asserted patents.  The complaint specifically refers to SEA facilities in South Carolina and New Jersey that are involved with various activities relating to products that embody the asserted patents.  Samsung specifically names its E1920X monitor and UN46D6000 television as representative products that practice the asserted patents.

As to related litigation, Samsung states that the ITC previously upheld the validity and enforceability of the ‘344 patent when it affirmed Chief ALJ Paul J. Luckern’s Initial Determination that certain Sharp Corporation (“Sharp”) televisions infringed claims 7 and 8 of the ‘344 patent in Certain Liquid Crystal Display Devices and Products Containing the Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-631.  See our June 26, 2009 post for more details.  Samsung further states that ALJ Luckern determined that Samsung satisfied the domestic industry requirement with respect to the ‘344 patent.  Additionally, Samsung states that the ‘344 patent was the subject of a related Enforcement Proceeding before ALJ Luckern, although Samsung settled that action after Sharp agreed to take a license.  See our April 13, 2010 post for more details.  Samsung further states that the ‘344 patent was the subject of civil litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, but that that litigation was also dismissed pursuant to a settlement agreement.  Lastly, Samsung states that concurrently with the filing of the instant ITC complaint, it also filed a civil action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware alleging that AUO infringes the asserted patents.

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