09
Apr
By Tom Fisher
On April 7, 2009, Lutron Electronics Co., Inc. of Coopersburg, Pennsylvania filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to section 337.

The complaint alleges that Universal Smart Electric Corp. (“USE”) of Irvine, California unlawfully imports into the U.S., sells for importation, and/or sells within the U.S. after importation certain lighting control devices, including dimmer switches and/or switches and parts thereof that infringe certain claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,637,930 (‘930 patent), 5,248,919 (‘919 patent), and U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 3,061,804 (‘804 trademark).

According to the complaint, the ‘930 and ‘919 patents relate to lighting dimmer switches.  In particular, the ‘930 patent “provided for, among other things, the switching control [in a dimmer switch] to be sized and arranged relative to the dimming control so that the switching function is emphasized over the dimming function from the perspective of the user,” the ‘919 patent is described as “a dimmer switch with dual fade-rate capability,” and the ‘804 trademark is described as being “comprised of the configuration of a press and tap light dimmer with a clean face plate (in phantom), dimming rocker and LED light level indicators.”

Lutron Electronics alleges that certain USE dimmer switches (by way of representative examples, the dimmers sold under the brand name Enerlites and the USE-58100) sold for importation, imported, and/or sold after importation into the U.S. infringe various claims of the ‘930 and ‘919 patents and have a “configuration identical or substantially identical to, and confusingly similar to” the ‘804 trademark.  According to the complaint, the accused USE dimmer switches are manufactured in China.  Lutron Electronics alleges that it purchased USE accused devices and parts thereof through Capital Wholesale Lighting & Electric Supply, Inc. of Culver City, California, and received a quotation for other USE dimmers through a sales representative of USE located in Irvine, California.

The complaint identifies two previous district court actions and a prior ITC investigation (Inv. No. 337-TA-599) in which the ‘930 and ‘919 patents, in addition to other patents, were asserted by Lutron Electronics against other parties.  The complaint states that each of earlier cases have been terminated based on settlements.

Lutron Electronics alleges that it satisfies the technical prong of the domestic industry requirement because the inventions claimed in the asserted patents and trademark are practiced by dimmer switches sold by Lutron Electronics.  Lutron Electronics also alleges that it satisfies the economic prong based on “significant investment in plant and equipment, significant employment of labor and capital and substantial investment in the exploitation of the asserted patents through engineering, and research and development.”
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