23
May
By John Presper

On May 18, 2022, the Commission issued an order instituting an advisory opinion proceeding in Certain High-Density Fiber Optic Equipment and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-1194).

By way of background, the Commission instituted the original investigation on March 24, 2020 based on a complaint by Corning Optical Communications LLC (“Corning”) alleging violations of section 337 by thirteen respondents, including Panduit Corporation (“Panduit”), due to the importation/sale of certain high-density fiber optic equipment and components thereof that infringe certain claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 9,020,320 (“the ’320 patent”); 10,120,153 (“the ’153 patent”); 8,712,206 (“the ’206 patent”); 10,094,996 (“the ’996 patent”); and 10,444,456 (“the ’456 patent”).  The accused products are chassis with sliding trays that fit within the standardized racks used in data centers, removable modules that are inserted into the sliding trays of the chassis and terminate large numbers of fiber-optic cables using standardized connectors, and combinations thereof.  On March 23, 2021, ALJ David P. Shaw issued a final initial determination (“ID”) finding a violation of section 337 by respondents with respect to claims 1 and 3 of the ’320 patent; claims 11, 12, 14-16, 19, 21, 27, and 28 of the ’456 patent; claims 9, 16, 23, and 26 of the ’153 patent; and claims 22 and 23 of the ’206 patent.  See our April 23, 2021 post for more details regarding the ID.  On August 3, 2021, the Commission issued a notice of its final determination finding a violation of section 337 and issuance of a general exclusion order (“GEO”) and cease-and-desist orders (“CDO”) against respondents.  See our August 5, 2021 post for more details regarding the Commission’s opinion.  On December 28, 2021, the Commission instituted an enforcement proceeding based on a November 4, 2021 complaint by Corning requesting institution of an enforcement proceeding to investigate alleged violations of the GEO and CDO by Panduit.  See our January 7, 2022 post for more details regarding the Notice of Enforcement Proceeding

According to the order, on April 18, 2022, Panduit filed a request for an advisory opinion that three new fiber optic equipment designs that it developed do not infringe any asserted claims of the asserted patents and are therefore not covered by the GEO and CDO.  Panduit’s new designs include: (1) a patch panel design with a density of 192 fiber optic connections in a 1U space; (2) a patch panel design with a density of 144 fiber optic connections in a 1U space; and (3) a new enclosure design with a density of 192 fiber optic connections in a 1U space (collectively, “New Designs”).  Having reviewed Panduit’s request in view of the record, the Commission determined to institute an advisory opinion proceeding to ascertain whether Panduit’s New Designs infringe claims 1 and 3 of the ’320 patent; claims 11, 12, 14-16, 19, 21, 27, and 28 of the ’456 patent; claims 9, 16, 23, and 26 of the ’153 patent; and claims 22 and 23 of the ’206 patent, and are covered by the remedial orders issued in the investigation.  The Commission further determined to refer the matter to the Chief ALJ for assignment to an ALJ for appropriate proceedings and the issuance of an initial advisory opinion at the earliest practicable time, preferably within 120 days of institution but no later than seven (7) months after institution.

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