By John Presper

On June 15, 2022, Velodyne Lidar USA, Inc. of San Jose, California (“Velodyne”) filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to section 337.

The complaint alleges that proposed respondents Ouster, Inc. of San Francisco, California and Benchmark Electronics, Inc. of Tempe, Arizona (collectively, “Respondents”) unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain rotating 3-D LiDAR devices, components thereof, and sensing systems containing the same that infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 7,969,558 (“the ’558 patent”) and 9,983,297 (“the ’297 patent”).

According to the complaint, the asserted patents generally relate to technologies for 3-D LiDAR devices.  Specifically, the ’558 patent is directed to an improved pulsed LiDAR system that rotates a plurality of laser emitters and avalanche photodiode detectors (“APDs”) to generate a dense 3-D point cloud, and the ’297 patent is directed to varying the illumination for 3-D imaging in a pulsed LiDAR system.  The accused products fall into the categories of products that are generally known as rotating 3-D LiDAR devices, components thereof (circuit boards with laser emitters and/or photosensitive detectors, a rotatable frame or structure for mounting such circuit boards, a motor for providing rotation for the laser emitters and photosensitive detectors, circuitry for controlling operation of the LiDAR, and an orientation detector for the LiDAR), and sensing systems with 3-D scanning capabilities containing the same (autonomous vehicles, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), robotics, industrial automation solutions, and intelligent infrastructure solutions—with 3-D scanning capabilities).

Velodyne alleges that a domestic industry exists under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(2) and (3) because it has developed and currently sells four rotating mechanical LiDAR product families:  VLP-16 (including the Puck, Puck LITE, and Puck Hi-Res sensors), VLP-32C (including the Ultra Puck sensor), HDL-32E, and VLS-128 (including the Alpha Prime sensor, f/k/a Alpha Puck).  Some or all manufacturing, which includes prototypes, piloting, materials, tooling, production, assembly, testing, calibration, alignment, quality control, packaging, distribution, and repair for the VLS-128, VLP-32C, and HDL-32E products is carried out in Velodyne’s San Jose facility.  Further, Velodyne asserts that research and development, including engineering, design, consulting, materials development, prototyping and product qualification and validation for all of the domestic industry products is carried out at its San Jose and Alameda facilities.

Regarding related litigation, the complaint refers to (1) a currently pending litigation in the Norther District of California regarding the ’558 patent (Quanergy Systems, Inc. v. Velodyne LiDAR, Inc., Case No. 5:16-cv-05251-EJD (N.D. Cal.)); (2) previous district court and ITC proceedings against Hesai Photonics Technology Co., Ltd. and Suteng Innovation Technology Co., Ltd. involving the ’558 patent (Velodyne Lidar, Inc. v. Hesai Photonics Technology Co., Ltd., Case No. 5:19-cv-04742-EJD (N.D. Cal.), Velodyne Lidar, Inc. v. Suteng Innovation Technology Co., Ltd. (a.k.a. Robosense), Case No. 5:19-cv-04746-EJD (N.D. Cal.), and Certain Rotating 3-D LiDAR Devices, Components Thereof, and Sensing Systems Containing the Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-1173)); and (3) a parallel district court complaint filed against Ouster, Inc. in the Northern District of California involving the ’558 and ’297 patents (Velodyne Lidar USA, Inc. v. Ouster, Inc., Case No. 4:22-cv-03490-DMR (N.D. Cal.)).

With respect to potential remedy, Complainants request that the Commission issue a permanent limited exclusion order and permanent cease-and-desist order directed to Respondents.