By Eric Schweibenz
On March 1, 2011, ALJ Robert K. Rogers, Jr. issued the public version of Order No. 24 (dated December 23, 2010) in Certain Inkjet Ink Cartridges with Printheads and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-723).  In the Order, ALJ Rogers denied Respondent Asia Pacific Microsystems, Inc.’s (“APM”) motion for sanctions against Complainants Hewlett-Packard Company and Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. (collectively, “HP”).

According to the Order, APM sought sanctions against HP based on a claim that HP had not had an objectively reasonable basis to name APM as a Respondent in the investigation.  In particular, APM sought the following sanctions:  (1) a finding that HP’s Complaint against APM was not pled with particularity, is lacking evidentiary basis, and was filed without making a proper pre-filing inquiry, with respect to the alleged importation of APM’s accused products into the U.S.; (2) dismissal of HP’s complaint against APM; (3) an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees and other expenses to APM; and (4) any other sanctions or findings that the Commission finds just and appropriate.

While much of the public version of the Order has been redacted, it is apparent from the public version that the primary basis for APM’s motion was its assertion that HP’s Complaint included no proof that APM’s accused products are imported into the U.S.  According to the Order, HP opposed APM’s motion and claimed that it was objectively reasonable to name APM as a Respondent in the investigation and allege that APM’s products are imported into the U.S.  The Commission Investigative Staff also opposed the motion, asserting that based on the allegations made in HP’s Complaint and the exhibits attached to the Complaint, HP had an objectively reasonable basis to assert that APM’s accused products are imported into the U.S.

After considering the parties’ arguments, ALJ Rogers determined to deny APM’s motion.  The ALJ found that prior to filing its Complaint, HP had evidence to support the allegation that APM supplied components to Respondent MicroJet Technology Co., Ltd. (“MicroJet”) and that MicroJet-sourced ink cartridges were imported into the U.S.  ALJ Rogers further found that in light of the evidence cited in HP’s Complaint, it was objectively reasonable for HP to name APM as a Respondent even if HP did not have direct evidence prior to filing that any of the MicroJet-sourced ink cartridges imported into the U.S. actually contained APM wafers.  Accordingly, ALJ Rogers denied APM’s motion for sanctions.  The ALJ noted, however, that his Order “in no way concludes that HP has satisfied any element of Section 337, including the importation requirement” and that “[i]t will be HP’s burden at the hearing to introduce evidence to satisfy the importation requirement of Section 337.”