By Eric Schweibenz
Further to our October 23, 2012 post, on November 1, 2012, ALJ Theodore R. Essex issued the public version (dated October 22, 2012) of the Initial Determination (“ID”) finding no Section 337 violation in Certain Devices for Improving Uniformity Used in a Backlight Module and Components Thereof and Products Containing Same (337-TA-805).

By way of background, the Complainants in this matter are Industrial Technology Research Institute and ITRI International, Inc. (collectively, “ITRI”) and the Respondents are LG Corporation, LG Electronics, Inc., and LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc. (collectively, “LG”).  ITRI alleged that LG violated Section 337 by the importation and/or sale of LCD televisions and monitors that infringed claims 6, 9 and 10 of U.S. Patent No. 6,883,932.  The subject matter of the ‘932 patent is an apparatus for improving uniformity used in backlight modules using light sources, a reflective housing, and at least one structured arc sheet.

ALJ Essex found that LG’s accused products do not infringe the asserted claims of the ‘932 patent – either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents – because the diffuser sheets, microlens sheets, microprism sheets, and light guides in the accused products failed to meet the “structured arc sheet” limitation of independent claim 6.  In finding no infringement, ALJ Essex agreed with LG and the Commission Investigative Staff (“OUII”) that “structured arc sheet” should be construed as “a sheet that is constructed in the shape of an arc.”  ITRI alleged that this term means “a sheet containing an arc-like structure for altering the pathway of illuminating light in multiple directions.”  The ALJ rejected ITRI’s argument, finding that the claim language, specification, prosecution history, and “simple grammar” rules all support LG and OUII’s proposed construction.

ALJ Essex also determined that ITRI did not satisfy the domestic industry requirement with respect to the ‘932 patent.  Regarding the technical prong, the ALJ found that ITRI’s domestic industry products are structurally similar to LG’s accused products and likewise do not have any “sheet that is constructed in the shape of an arc” as required by the asserted claims.  ALJ Essex agreed with ITRI, however, that the activities of its licensee (Samsung) satisfied the economic prong.  Specifically, the ALJ found that Samsung employs significant labor and capital in the U.S. through its customer / technical support and service / repair activities for its LCD televisions, which Samsung provides through its customer call center in Greenville, South Carolina, and by contracting field engineers, authorized service centers, and dealer service centers to perform service, repair and replacement of the domestic industry products.

In the event that the ITC finds a violation of Section 337, ALJ Essex recommended that the ITC issue a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order.  Additionally, ALJ Essex recommended that a bond rate of 1% be set as stipulated by the parties.