By Eric Schweibenz
On August 27, 2010, Thomson Licensing SAS of France and Thomson Licensing LLC of Princeton, New Jersey (collectively “Thomson Licensing”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

The complaint alleges that Chimei Innolux Corporation of Taiwan, Innolux Corporation of Austin, Texas, Chi Mei Optoelectronics USA, Inc. of San Jose, California, and MStar Semiconductor, Inc. of Taiwan (collectively, the “Proposed Respondents”) through the manufacture, sale for importation, importation, and/or sale within the U.S. after importation of certain liquid crystal display devices, including monitors, televisions, and modules, and components thereof infringe certain claims in U.S. Patent Nos. 6,121,941 (the ‘941 patent), 5,978,063 (the ‘063 patent), 5,648,674 (the ‘674 patent), 5,621,556 (the ‘556 patent), and 5,375,006 (the ‘006 patent) (collectively, “asserted patents”).

More specifically, Thomson Licensing describes the accused products as liquid crystal display (LCD) devices manufactured and imported from China, including monitors, televisions, and modules and components thereof, including LCD panels, LCD controllers, and birefringent film.

The complaint describes the ‘941 patent as relating to devices and methods that utilize the total time - that is, the time associated with the active regions and inactive periods - in CRT video image signals to create images that can be displayed on an LCD with more lines using a lower clock frequency than could have been used to generate the same display on a CRT, wherein the active regions of an input video image signal are sampled and written into a buffer memory at a first rate, and they are read out of the memory at a second rate and processed and displayed on the LCD using the same total time available from the CRT video image.  The ‘063 patent is described as disclosing and claiming LCD panel spacer elements that are positioned and shaped or formed in non-active areas of an active matrix LCD in order to minimize picture distortion while maintaining a uniform distance between the substrates, wherein the spacing elements also allow for an alignment layer to be placed over them and be effectively mechanically rubbed, which enhances display quality.  The complaint describes the ‘674 patent as directed to an improved structure for the pixel electrode, and its associated capacitor of an active matrix LCD thin film transistor (TFT), wherein the area occupied by the pixel electrode and the added capacitor is maximized, and it can be more efficiently fabricated by forming the data line, portions of the TFT, and the top electrode of the added capacitor from the same layer of a highly conductive metal.  The complaint further describes the structure taught and claimed by the ‘674 patent to include a pixel electrode made from indium tin oxide that is electrically connected to the TFT through the top electrode of the added capacitor.  The ‘556 patent is described as directed to an active matrix LCD made by forming bottom-gate type TFTs and pixel electrodes over a passivation layer, wherein the passivation layer and gate insulating layer have specific relative etch rates to allow for the creation of a via through both layers resulting in simpler processing and better panel performance.  The complaint describes the ‘006 patent as teaching and claiming a structure that diminishes light leakage by including a material extending in a plane parallel to and between the first and second polarizers, which material has a uniaxial negative birefringence along an axis inclined with respect to the normal to the plane in which the material extends.

The complaint alleges that Thomson Licensing conducts significant domestic industry activities in the United States relating to the asserted patents, including Thomson Licensing LLC's substantial investment in the exploitation of the patents-at-issue through an extensive program of licensing those patents to over 180 companies.  The complaint further asserts that Thomson Licensing LLC has invested substantial resources, labor, and capital in order to exploit the patents-at-issue in the United States through such licenses, and that Thomson Licensing LLC conducts its extensive licensing activities in the United States primarily from its facility in Princeton, New Jersey.

With respect to related litigation the complaint states that on July 23, 2010, Thomson Licensing filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware against the Proposed Respondents for infringement of the Asserted Patents.   The complaint also states that on April 20, 2010, April 22, 2010, and June 14, 2010, ex parte requests for reexamination were filed against the ‘674 patent, the ‘556 patent, and the ‘006 patent, respectively.

Regarding potential remedy, Thomson Licensing seeks a limited exclusion order pursuant to Section 337(d), and a permanent cease-and-desist order pursuant to Section 337(f) directed to Chimei Innolux and their affiliates and subsidiaries.