By Eric Schweibenz
On January 28, 2010, ALJ E. James Gildea issued the public version of Order No. 12 (dated January 8, 2010) in Certain Video Displays, Components Thereof, and Products Containing Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-687) granting Complainant LG Electronics, Inc.’s (“LGE”) motion for leave to file a second amended complaint and amend the Notice of Investigation.  Through its motion, LGE sought to add two additional respondents to the Investigation, AmTran Technology Co. Ltd. and AmTran Logistics, Inc. (collectively “AmTran”).

In support of its motion, LGE asserted that good cause existed to grant its motion because “through discovery conducted in this Investigation [LGE] has gained new knowledge and confirmed information about AmTran’s involvement with the importation, sale for importation, and sale within the United States after importation of products accused in this Investigation.”  Additionally, LGE asserted that adding AmTran as respondents “would reduce the need to conduct third-party discovery, aid in developing a more complete record, and afford it effective relief.”  The Commission Investigative Staff (“Staff”) filed a response in support of LGE’s motion citing the same reasons as LGE, including the assertion that AmTran “appears to have the most detailed technical understanding of the Vizio accused products.”

Respondent Vizio and AmTran filed responses opposing LGE’s motion.  Both Vizio and AmTran asserted that LGE failed to demonstrate that its proposed amendment was based on information that was not known to LGE prior to the institution of the Investigation and “that amending the complaint at this juncture would prejudice both the named and proposed respondents, as well as, the public.”  Further, they asserted that LGE’s motion was procedurally defective.

In the Order, ALJ Gildea stated that leave to amend the complaint may be granted “for good cause shown and upon such conditions as are necessary to avoid prejudicing the public interest and the rights of the parties to the investigation.”  Regarding the showing of good cause, ALJ Gildea determined that good cause existed to amend the complaint because LGE demonstrated that its motion was based on information that was obtained through discovery after the institution of the Investigation.  ALJ Gildea noted that motions similar to LGE’s have been granted when the complainant obtains previously unknown information after the institution of the investigation or “receives information during discovery that confirms information available to the complainant prior to the institution.”  Regarding the issue of prejudice, ALJ Gildea found that joining AmTran “would simplify the discovery process by avoiding the use of the third party subpoena process” and “promote judicial efficiency and conserve Commission resources by alleviating the need for LGE to file a separate Section 337 complaint directed to AmTran on the very same patents and products.”  ALJ Gildea determined that any prejudice in joining AmTran at this time “should be minimal” in view of the close relationship between AmTran and Respondent Vizio, Inc. and the fact that “discovery taken by Vizio should be equally relevant and meaningful to AmTran.”  Further, ALJ Gildea also noted that given the fact that AmTran Technologies Co. Ltd. is outside the scope of the Commission’s subpoena power and given AmTran’s involvement in the “design, manufacture and importation into the United States of the accused products,” joining AmTran may be necessary to obtain complete discovery and “to afford LGE an opportunity for complete and effective relief should a violation of Section 337 be found.”  Thus, ALJ Gildea granted LGE’s motion.

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