By Eric Schweibenz
On April 18, 2012, Anu IP LLC of Longview, Texas (“Anu”) 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/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain electronic devices having a retractable USB connector that infringe one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,979,210 (the ‘210 patent) and 7,090,515 (the ‘515 patent) (collectively, the “asserted patents”):

  • AIPTEK International, Inc. of Taiwan

  • Aluratek, Inc. of Tustin, California

  • Archos S.A. of France

  • Archos, Inc. of Greenwood Village, Colorado

  • Bluestar Alliance LLC of New York, New York

  • Centon Electronics, Inc. of Aliso Viejo, California

  • Coby Electronics Corporation of Lake Success, New York

  • Corsair Memory, Inc. of Fremont, California

  • Emtec Electronics, Inc. of Lew Center, Ohio

  • General Imaging Company of Torrance, California

  • Huawei Technology Company, Ltd. of China

  • Iriver, Inc. of Irvine, California

  • JVC Kenwood Corporation of Japan

  • JVC Americas Corporation of Wayne, New Jersey

  • Latte Communications, Inc. of San Jose, California

  • Lexar Media, Inc. of Fremont, California

  • Maxell Corporation of America, Inc. of Woodland Park, New Jersey

  • Hitachi Maxell, Ltd. of Japan

  • Office Depot, Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida

  • Olympus Corporation of Japan

  • Olympus Corporation of the Americas of Center Valley, Pennsylvania

  • Option NV of Belgium

  • Option, Inc. of Alpharetta, Georgia

  • Panasonic Corporation of Japan

  • Panasonic Corporation North America of Secaucus, New Jersey

  • Patriot Memory LLC of Fremont, California

  • Provantage LLC of North Canton, Ohio

  • RITEK Corporation of Taiwan

  • Advanced Media, Inc. dba RITEK U.S.A. of Diamond Bar, California

  • Sakar International, Inc. of Edison, New Jersey

  • Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. of South Korea

  • Samsung Electronics America of Ridgefield, New Jersey

  • Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. of Japan

  • Sanyo North America Corporation of San Diego, California

  • Silicon Power Computer and Comm., Inc. of Taiwan

  • Silicon Power Computer and Comm. USA, Inc. of Cupertino, California

  • Supersonic, Inc. of Commerce, California

  • Super Talent Technology Corporation of San Jose, California

  • Toshiba Corporation of Japan

  • Toshiba America, Inc. of New York, New York

  • ViewSonic Corporation of Walnut, California

  • VOXX International Corporation of Hauppauge, New York

  • Audiovox Accessories Corporation of Carmel, Indiana

  • Yamaha Corporation of Japan

  • Yamaha Corporation of America of Buena Park, California

According to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to a novel thumb drive incorporating a retractable USB connector used to connect to a computer appliance.  In particular, the ‘210 patent relates to an extension/retraction mechanism coupled to a USB connector for extending the connector from an enclosure of the drive and for retracting the connector when not in use.  The ‘515 patent relates to the same invention and shares the same specification as the ‘210 patent, but its claims are specifically directed to a spring loaded extension/retraction mechanism coupled to a USB connector for extending the connector from an enclosure of the drive.

In the complaint, Anu states that the Proposed Respondents import and sell products that infringe the asserted patents.  The complaint specifically identifies a number of infringing products associated with the various Proposed Respondents.

Regarding domestic industry, Anu states that its licensees and/or its predecessor’s licensees have made substantial investments in the U.S. in the exploitation of the inventions claimed in the asserted patents.  According to the complaint, these investments relate to engineering, research, development, testing, marketing, and servicing activities.  Anu states that there are at least nine licensees to the asserted patents, including HopeLab Foundation, Inc., Zamzee Company, Sony Electronics, Inc. (“Sony”), and Philips Electronics North America Corporation (“Philips”).  The complaint states that Sony’s Micro Vault USB Drive incorporates the technology claimed in the ‘210 patent and that Sony’s Bloggie incorporates the technology claimed in the ‘515 patent.  The complaint also states that Philips’s Qvida HD Camcorder incorporates the technology claimed in the ‘515 patent.  Additionally, Anu states that it and its predecessor have made, and continue to make, substantial investments in the U.S. with respect to licensing activities relating to the asserted patents. 

As to related litigation, Anu states that on January 23, 2008, its predecessor filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas alleging that various entities infringe the ‘210 patent.  On March 31, 2010, this case was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  The case was resolved after each of the defendants was dismissed by reason of settlement or other agreement.

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