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Notice

In the Matter of Certain Recordable Compact Discs and Rewritable Compact Discs; Notice of Commission Determination of No Violation of Section 337

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AGENCY:

International Trade Commission.

ACTION:

Notice.

SUMMARY:

Notice is hereby given that the U.S. International Trade Commission has determined that the U.S. patents asserted by complainant U.S. Philips Corporation are unenforceable for patent misuse, and has therefore found that there is no violation of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the above-captioned investigation.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Clara Kuehn, Esq., Office of the General Counsel, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone (202) 205-3012. Copies of the Commission's order, the public version of its opinion, the public version of the presiding administrative law judge's (“ALJ's”) final initial determination (“ID”), and all other nonconfidential documents filed in connection with this Start Printed Page 12712investigation are or will be available for inspection during official business hours (8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.) in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20436, telephone 202-205-2000. General information concerning the Commission may also be obtained by accessing its Internet server (http://www.usitc.gov). The public record for this investigation may be viewed on the Commission's electronic docket (EDIS) at http://edis.usitc.gov. Hearing-impaired persons are advised that information on this matter can be obtained by contacting the Commission's TDD terminal on 202-205-1810.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Commission instituted this investigation on July 26, 2002, based on a complaint filed by U.S. Philips Corporation of Tarrytown, NY (“Philips” or “complainant”). 67 FR 48948 (2002). The complaint, as supplemented, alleged violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain recordable compact discs and rewritable compact discs by reason of infringement of certain claims of six U.S. patents: claims 1, 5, and 6 of U.S. Patent No. 4,807,209; claim 11 of U.S. Patent No. 4,962,493; claims 1, 2, and 3 of U.S. Patent No. 4,972,401; claims 1, 3, and 4 of U.S. Patent No. 5,023,856; claims 1-5, and 6 of U.S. Patent No. 4,999,825; and claims 20, 23-33, and 34 of U.S. Patent No. 5,418,764. 67 FR 48948 (2002).

The notice of investigation named 19 respondents, including GigaStorage Corporation Taiwan of Hsinchu, Taiwan; GigaStorage Corporation USA of Livermore, California (collectively, “GigaStorage”); and Linberg Enterprise Inc. (“Linberg”) of West Orange, New Jersey. 67 FR 48,948 (2002). On August 14, 2002, the ALJ issued an ID (Order No. 2) granting a motion to intervene as respondents by Princo Corporation of Hsinchu, Taiwan, and Princo America Corporation of Fremont, California (collectively, “Princo”). That ID was not reviewed by the Commission. GigaStorage, Linberg, and Princo (“respondents”) are the only remaining active respondents in this investigation. See ALJ Order No. 6 (an unreviewed ID terminating eight respondents on the basis of a consent order); ALJ Order No. 17 (an unreviewed ID terminating each of three respondents on the basis of a consent order and settlement agreement); ALJ Order No. 18 (an unreviewed ID terminating one respondent on the basis of a consent order and settlement agreement); and ALJ Order No. 21 (an unreviewed ID finding four respondents in default).

On April 7, 2003, the ALJ issued an ID (ALJ Order No. 20) granting complainant's unopposed motion for summary determination that Linberg, GigaStorage, and Princo have each sold for importation, imported, and/or sold after importation products accused of infringing one or more of the asserted patent claims. That ID was not reviewed by the Commission.

A tutorial session was held on June 3, 2003, and an evidentiary hearing was held from June 10, 2003, through June 20, 2003.

On June 30, 2003, the ALJ issued an order (ALJ Order No. 32) granting a motion in limine filed by respondents to preclude complainant from asserting the doctrine of unclean hands with respect to respondents' affirmative defense of patent misuse.

The ALJ issued his final ID on October 24, 2003. Although he found that none of the asserted claims are invalid, that the accused products infringe the asserted claims, and that the domestic industry requirement of section 337 has been satisfied, he found no violation of section 337 because he concluded that all of the asserted patents are unenforceable by reason of patent misuse.

On November 5, 2003, complainant Philips petitioned for review of the portion of the final ID that found the asserted patents unenforceable due to patent misuse, and also appealed ALJ Order No. 32. On the same day, respondents filed a paper entitled “Statement of Respondents Princo Corp., Princo America Corp., Gigastorage Corp. Taiwan, Gigastorage Corp. USA, and Linberg Enterprises, Inc. Regarding the Initial Determination,” in which respondents urged the Commission to adopt the ID in its entirety. Respondents and the IA filed responses to complainant's petition for review.

On December 8, 2003, the ALJ issued his recommended determination on remedy and bonding.

On December 10, 2003, the Commission determined to affirm ALJ Order No. 32, and to review all of the ID's findings of fact and conclusions of law concerning patent misuse. The Commission determined not to review the remainder of the ID.

In its review notice, the Commission invited the parties to file written submissions on the issues under review, and invited interested persons to file written submissions on the issues of remedy, the public interest, and bonding. The Commission also requested briefing from the parties on four questions. Initial submissions were filed on January 9, 2004, and replies were filed on January 16, 2004, and on January 20, 2004.

Having reviewed the record in this investigation, including the parties' written submissions, the Commission determined to affirm the ALJ's conclusion that the asserted patents are unenforceable for patent misuse per se, but on the ground that complainant's practice of mandatory package licensing constitutes a tying arrangement between licenses to patents that are essential to manufacture CD-Rs or CD-RWs according to Orange Book standards and licenses to other patents that are not essential to that activity.[1] The Commission determined to adopt the ALJ's conclusion that the asserted patents are unenforceable for patent misuse under a rule of reason standard based on the ALJ's analysis of and findings as to the tying arrangement.[2] We affirm the ALJ's conclusion that the patent misuse has not been shown to have been purged.

This action is taken under the authority of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1337), and in section 210.45 of the Commission's rules of practice and procedure (19 CFR 210.45).

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By order of the Commission.

Issued: March 11, 2004.

Marilyn R. Abbott,

Secretary to the Commission.

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Footnotes

1.  We take no position on the ALJ's conclusion that the asserted patents are unenforceable for patent misuse per se based on theories of price fixing and price discrimination.

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2.  We take no position on the ALJ's conclusion that the royalty rate structure of the CD-R/RW patent pools is an unreasonable restraint of trade.

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[FR Doc. E4-610 Filed 3-16-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7020-02-P