By Eric Schweibenz
On November 24, 2009, Matthew Bullock of Mclean, Virginia and Walnut Industries, Inc. of Bensalem, Pennsylvania (collectively, “Walnut”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that Qingdao Auront Industry & Trade Co., Ltd of China (“Auront”) unlawfully imports into the U.S. and sells for importation certain restraining systems for transport containers, components thereof, and methods of using same which allegedly infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 6,227,779 (the ‘779 patent), 6,981,827 (the ‘827 patent), 6,089,802 (the ‘802 patent), and Copyright Registration Nos. TX-6-990-095 and TX-6-996-765.  The complaint further alleges that Auront “falsely advertises its cargo restraint system through the Internet and other electronic communications” and Auront’s “misuse of Walnut’s registered materials and false advertising for the purpose of selling or offering for sale products that are imported into the United States is a violation of Section 337.”

According to the complaint, “each of the patents-in-suit relate to a restraint system used in cargo transport containers”: (i) the “‘802 patent is directed at the system of reinforced load restraining strips with sections for self-adherence to a container wall surface”, (ii) the “‘779 patent is directed to a method for using the ‘802 load reinforcing system to secure cargo”, and (iii) the “‘827 patent is directed at a set of tools used to implement the ‘802 load restraining system in accordance with the ‘779 process.”  In addition, the complaint alleges that the asserted copyrights register materials and information on Walnut’s website as first implemented in 2000 and as of its modification in 2007.

In the complaint, Walnut alleges that Auront “manufactures its infringing cargo restraint systems in China, and offers them for sale to customers outside the United States for use in restraining goods within containers destined for importation into the United States.”  Walnut further alleges “[a]t least 12 instances of direct replication” from Walnut’s website that “appear on the Auront website promoting the product that infringes one or more claims of the patents-in-suit.”

Regarding domestic industry, Walnut alleges that the “Walnut website copyright and patents-in-suit are embodied in and cover certain of Complainants’ cargo restraint systems sold in the United States” and the “activities which constitute this requisite U.S. industry include significant U.S. investment in plant and equipment and U.S. employment of labor and significant capital with respect to the manufacture and sale of flexible strip cargo restraint systems of Complainants which conform to the Walnut copyright and practice the Bullock/Walnut patents-in-suit.”

With respect to potential remedy, Walnut asks that the Commission issue a permanent exclusion order and a permanent cease and desist order directed to Auront.