By John Presper

On March 29, 2022, Apeks, LLC of Johnstown, Ohio (“Apeks”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to section 337.

The complaint alleges that the following proposed respondents (collectively, “Respondents”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain centrifuge utility platform and falling film evaporator systems and components thereof that infringe U.S. Patent No. 10,814,338 (“’338 patent”), U.S. Patent No. 11,014,098 (“’098 patent”) and U.S. Patent No. 10,899,728 (“’728 patent”):

  • Ambiopharm Inc. of Beech Island, South Carolina
  • Calpha Industries Inc. of Laguna Hills, California
  • Changzhou Haomai Drying Engineering Co., Ltd. of China
  • Comerg, LLC of Phoenix, Arizona
  • Ezhydro of Sacramento, California
  • Henan Lanphan Industry Co., Ltd. of China
  • HX Labs, LLC of Albany, Oregon
  • Hydrion Scientific Instrument LLC of Vista, California
  • Idea Makers, LLC of Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Lab1st Scientific and Industrial Equipment, Inc. of China
  • Liaoyang Zhonglian Pharmaceutical Machinery Co., Ltd. of China
  • Miracle Education Distributors, Inc. of Cathedral City, California
  • Mountain Pure, LLC of Vineyard, Utah
  • Redford Management of Los Angeles, California
  • Ri Hemp Farms, LLC of West Greenwich, Rhode Island
  • Shanghai Yuanhuai Industries Co. Ltd. of China
  • Toolots.com of Moreno Valley, California
  • Toption Instrument Co., Ltd. of China
  • Tradewheel.com of Wilmington, Delaware
  • Vcenna of Canada
  • Zhangjiagang Blovebird Separations Co., Ltd. of China
  • Zhangjiagang Chunk Trading Corp. d/b/a Zhangjiagang Charme Trading Corp. Ltd. of China
  • Zhangjiagang City Huaxiang Centrifuge Manufactory Co., Ltd. of China
  • Zhangjiagang Heighton Machinery Co., Ltd. of China

According to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to centrifugal ethanol-based extraction systems.  Specifically, the ’338 and ’098 patents are directed to a botanical extraction/purification device and process that provides the improved ability to extract and purify botanical compounds from a diverse plant species, including reducing processing time and increasing product quality in an environmentally friendly way, and the ’728 patent is directed to a distillation system and method for the recovery of cannabinoid extracts from a tincture comprising such extracts and a solvent, usually ethanol.  The accused products are centrifuge utility platforms and falling film evaporators, components thereof, and Respondents’ products containing the same that are used primarily for the environmentally friendly isolation and extraction of compounds with medicinal, therapeutic, and/or commercial value from hemp, biomass, and cannabis.

Regarding domestic industry, Apeks alleges that a domestic industry exists under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(2) and (3) based on significant investment in plant and equipment, significant employment of labor or capital, and substantial investment in the exploitation of the asserted patents, including a variety of manufacturing, engineering, technical support, sales and marketing, and field training with respect to Apeks’s domestic industry systems and components thereof, including APek’s CUP Series (CUP-15 and CUP-30) Centrifuge Utility Platform and FEE falling film evaporator systems.

With respect to potential remedy, Apeks requests that the Commission issue a general exclusion order or, alternatively, permanent limited exclusion orders and permanent cease-and-desist orders directed to Respondents.