By Eric Schweibenz
On November 12, 2009, Knowles Electronics LLC of Itasca, Illinois (“Knowles”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that Analog Devices Inc. of Norwood, Massachusetts (“ADI”) unlawfully imports into the U.S., sells for importation, and sells within the U.S. after importation certain silicon microphone packages and products containing the same which allegedly infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 6,781,231 (the ‘231 patent) and 7,242,089 (the ‘089 patent).

According to the complaint, “[s]ilicon microphones are a unique type of microphone using processes like silicon etching that are normally used to create microchips” and the “technology-at-issue relates to a unique and proprietary package for a silicon microphone that consists of a microphone diaphragm made of silicon produced using the Microelectromechanical Systems (‘MEMS’) process, a substrate, and a cover.”

In the complaint, Knowles alleges that “ADI manufactures and imports into the United States and/or sells for importation into the United States a variety of silicon microphone packages that infringe the [asserted] Knowles [p]atents.”  Knowles further alleges that “ADI or one of its affiliates sells its silicon microphone packages to overseas manufacturers including Apple into downstream products such as Apple’s iPod Nano product line.”

With respect to domestic industry (technical prong), Knowles asserts that it “domestically practices at least one claim of the Knowles ‘231 Patent and the Knowles ‘089 Patent.”  Further, Knowles alleges that it satisfies the domestic industry (economic prong) requirement through “Knowles’s activities within the United States, including Knowles’s manufacture, research and development, repair and service of its MEMS Silicon Microphone Technology and its SiSonic Microphone Package.”  Knowles also alleges that the “existence of the economic prong of a domestic industry with respect to both of the ‘231 and ‘089 patents was adjudicated and affirmed in investigation 337-TA-629.”

Regarding other legal proceedings involving the asserted patents, Knowles alleges in its complaint that the ITC issued an opinion and limited exclusion order in investigation 337-TA-629.  Knowles further discloses that it filed a complaint on October 6, 2009 against ADI in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  Additionally, Knowles discloses that both ADI and Wolfson Microelectronics Plc have recently requested that the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office re-examine the ‘231 and ‘089 patents.

Regarding potential remedy, Knowles asks that the Commission issue a permanent exclusion order and a permanent cease and desist order directed to ADI.