On December 2, 2009, Richtek Technology Corp. of Taiwan and Richtek USA, Inc. of San Jose, California (collectively, “Richtek”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that the following proposed respondents unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and sell within the U.S. after importation certain DC-DC controllers and products containing such controllers which allegedly infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 7,315,190 (the ‘190 patent), 6,414,470 (the ‘470 patent), and 7,132,717 (the ‘717 patent):

  • uPI Semiconductor Corp. of Taiwan (“uPI”)

  • Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. of Sunnyvale, California (“AMD”)

  • Sapphire Technology Limited of Hong Kong

  • Diamond Multimedia, Inc. of Chatsworth, California

  • XFX Technology, Inc. of Ontario, California

The complaint further alleges violations of Section 337 “arising from the unfair act of misappropriating Richtek’s proprietary and trade secret information relating to at least Richtek’s DC-DC controllers.”

According to the complaint, the “products involved in this investigation are certain DC-DC controllers and products containing them used to regulate power in many modern electronic devices.  More specifically, DC-DC controllers are typically placed on a printed circuit board (PCB), e.g., a graphics card or a board inside a computer, and regulate DC power typically derived from an external power supply connected to a wall socket to provide lower power for components on the PCB, e.g., graphics processing units (‘GPUs’) or microprocessors.”  According to Richtek’s non-technical description of the asserted patents, (i) the ‘190 patent “relates to a PWM IC controller that regulates a voltage output at a load using two control switches,” (ii) the ‘470 patent “relates to a multi-phase PWM DC-DC controller,” and (iii) the ‘717 patent “relates to power metal oxide transistor layouts.”

With respect to related litigation, Richtek asserts in its complaint that it has previously filed various infringement actions against uPI in Taiwan.  In addition, Richtek alleges that it “filed criminal charges with the Taipei District Court prosecutor’s office against eleven former Richtek employees, regarding, inter alia, misappropriation of trade secrets.”

Regarding the technical prong of the domestic industry requirement, Richtek asserts that its products practice the asserted patents.  Further, Richtek alleges that it satisfies the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement through “substantial investments in the United States in the exploitation of the [asserted patents].  These investments include research, design, engineering, product development, testing, quality control and providing technical support in connection with the ‘design-in’ of DC-DC controllers that practice the asserted patents.”  Richtek further alleges that the “effect of uPI and AMD’s unfair practices…have been to substantially injure and threaten substantial injury to the domestic industry that exists by virtue of Richtek’s investments and activities in the United States relating to Richtek’s proprietary and trade secret information.”

With respect to potential remedy, Richtek asks that the Commission issue a permanent exclusion order and permanent cease and desist orders directed to the proposed respondents.