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Vizio HDTVs Dodge Legal Bullit

11 Jun, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

HDTV manufacturer Vizio June 10 had its motion granted to stay a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) order that the company stop importing televisions that may infringe on rival TV maker Funai Electric’s patents.

The stay puts on hold the ITC’s April 10 decision that Vizio and others were infringing on Funai’s digital television patent. President Barack Obama had 60 days to review and revise the ITC’s orders and did not do so by the June 9 deadline.

“Allowing this comment period to expire without change signals that President Obama is in accord with the U.S. patent process and Funai’s achievement at the ITC,” said Funai president and CEO Tomonori Hayashi. “Funai remains committed to respecting the intellectual property rights of others and will continue vigorously protecting its own intellectual property rights against infringers.”

The stay gives Vizio more time to appeal the ITC ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Vizio maintains that the infringement claims are meritless, a claim backed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).

“This is a significant first step in the appellate review process. We are confident that the Federal Circuit will reverse the ITC’s earlier determination and vindicate Vizio’s position in light of the recent final rejection of the '074 patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,” said Laynie Newsome, Vizio VP of sales, marketing and communications. “The court’s action today serves as yet another affirmation that business is to be conducted as usual despite abusive and anti-competitive behavior from competitors.”

If the stay had not been granted, televisions under the Vizio, AOC, Olevia and Envision brands could have been banned from import or sale in the United States. Vizio, which was the No. 1 HDTV brand sold during the first quarter of 2009, maintains that the chipset technology under discussion is no longer used in its products.

“We at Vizio deeply respect the rights of intellectual property upheld by the PTO, which does not apply to this claim. Unfortunately, we are not immune to frivolous lawsuits and we reserve the right to defend ourselves of meritless claims at all times,” Newsome said. “The products involved with this particular claim are obsolete, and no longer in mass production.”

Vizio sued Funai in late May, leveling its own patent infringement claims and accusing Funai of violating unfair competition and antitrust laws.

“Defendants have infringed, and are continuing to infringe, the '096 patent by contributing to and/or actively inducing others to infringe one or more claims of the '096 patent by their manufacture, use, offering for sale, sale, supplying and/or importation of digital televisions,” the suit reads.


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