05
Aug
By John Presper
On August 3, 2021, the Commission issued a notice of its final determination finding a violation of section 337 and issuance of a general exclusion order in Certain High-Density Fiber Optic Equipment and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-1194).

By way of background, this investigation was based on a February 21, 2020 complaint filed by Corning Optical Communications LLC (“Corning”) alleging violations of section 337 by thirteen respondents, including FS.com Inc. (“FS”), Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc. (“Leviton”), Panduit Corp. (“Panduit”), The Siemon Company (“Siemon”), and The LAN Wirewerks Research Laboratories Inc. d/b/a Wireweriks through the importation and/or sale of certain high-density fiber optic equipment that infringes one or more claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 9,020,320 (“the ’320 patent”); 8,712,206 (“the ’206 patent); 10,120,153 (“the ’153 patent”); 10,094,996 (“the ’996 patent”); and 10,444,456 (“the ’456 patent”). The accused products are chassis with sliding trays that fit within the standardized racks used in data centers, removable modules that are inserted into the sliding trays of the chassis and terminate large numbers of fiber-optic cables using standardized connectors, and combinations thereof. On March 23, 2021, ALJ David P. Shaw issued a final initial determination (“ID”) of a violation of section 337 with respect to claims 1 and 3 of the ’320 patent; claims 11, 12, 14-16, 19, 21, 27, and 28 of the ’456 patent; claims 9, 16, 23, and 26 of the ’153 patent; and claims 22 and 23 of the ’206 patent. See our April 20, 2021 post for more details regarding the ID.

According to the notice, the Commission affirmed (with modifications) the ID’s finding that Respondents Leviton, Panduit, and Siemon satisfy the importation requirement. With regard to claim construction, the Commission determined to: (1) adopt the Commission Investigative Staff’s proposed construction for the “width of the front side of [the] fiber optic module” limitation in claims 12 and 28 of the ’456 patent, and find that the accused products meet this limitation under the proper construction; and (2) adopt Corning’s proposed construction for the “front opening” limitation in the asserted claims of the ’206 patent and find that the accused products meet this limitation under the proper construction. The Commission also affirmed (with modifications) the ID’s finding that the imported articles of Panduit, Siemon, and FS are respectively used by their customers to directly infringe the asserted claims of the ’320, ’456, and ’153 patents at their inducement, and that the imported articles of Leviton are used by its customers to directly infringe the asserted claims of the ’320 and ’456 patents at Leviton’s inducement. Further, the Commission affirmed the ID’s finding of no contributory infringement by Leviton, Panduit, and Siemon, and took no position on the ID’s finding of no contributory infringement by FS. In addition, the Commission took no position on the ID’s finding that Leviton directly infringed the asserted claims of the ’320 and ’456 patents. Finally, the Commission affirmed (with modifications) the ID’s finding that Corning satisfied the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement. The Commission determined that a general exclusion order prohibiting the importation of infringing high-density fiber optic equipment and components thereof is necessary to prevent circumvention of a limited exclusion order directed to Respondents, and because there is a pattern of infringement and it is difficult to identify the source of the infringing products. The Commission also issued cease-and-desist orders directed against Leviton, Panduit, and FS.

UPDATE:  On August 23, 2021, the Commission issued the public version of its opinion.
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