USITC launches patent probe into electronics makers

Updated: 2013-06-21 15:24

By Mao Jing (

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US International Trade Commission (USITC) has launched a new round of patent infringement investigations into five well-known electronics manufacturers including China's ZTE Corporation.

The companies include ZTE Co, Taiwan's Amtran Technology Co, Japan's Panasonic Co, Toshiba Co and their US subsidiaries, as well as Vizio Inc based in Irvine, California. The companies are accused of violating Section 337 of the US Tariff Act of 1930.

According to a statement released by the USITC on Thursday, it will investigate devices that have displaying and processing capabilities, including laptops, net books, tablets, desktop computers, high-definition cameras, and blue-ray and DVD players.

This investigation is based on a complaint filed by Graphics Properties Holdings, Inc, of New Rochelle, NY on May 17. Graphics Properties alleged that electronic devices produced by these companies infringed its patents and requested the USITC to issue an exclusion order and orders barring the import of their products into the US.

The USITC said it will complete the investigation and issue a ruling as soon as possible. According to the procedure, within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the Commission will set a target date for completing the investigation.

This is not the first time ZTE face a Section 337 investigation. Both in August last year and January this year, the USITC had launched investigations into wireless-enabled electronic devices and components imported from certain countries and regions. China's Huawei Technologies was also on the list.

ZTE has yet not made any response to the investigation.

Experts say the consequence of the Section 337 investigation conducted by the USITC can be more devastating than that of anti-dumping charges. It often involves claims regarding intellectual property rights, including allegations of patent infringement and trademark infringement by imported goods.

If a violation is found, the USITC may issue an exclusion order that directs Customs to stop infringing imports from entering the United States. In addition, the Commission may issue cease and desist orders against named importers and other persons engaged in unfair acts that violate Section 337.