On August 11, 2016, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“Commission”) issued a press release announcing their vote to institute an investigation of Certain Quartz Slabs and Portions Thereof (II) (Inv. No. 337-TA-1017).

By way of background, this investigation is based on a July 11, 2016 complaint filed by Cambria Company LLC of Belle Plaine, Minnesota alleging violation of Section 337 by way of unlawful importation into the U.S., selling for importation, and/or selling within the U.S. after importation certain quartz slabs and portions thereof that infringe the claims of U.S. Patent Nos. D712,666; D712,670; D751,298; D712,161; and D737,058. See our July 11, 2016 post for more details on the complaint.

According to the Notice of Investigation, the Commission has identified the following as the respondents:

  • Stylen Quaza LLC d/b/a Vicostone USA of Dallas, Texas
  • Vicostone Joint Stock Company of Vietnam
  • Building Plastics Inc. of Memphis, Tennessee
  • Fasa Industrial Corporation, Ltd. of China
  • Foshan FASA Building Material Co., Ltd. of China
  • Solidtops LLC of Oxford, Maryland
  • Dorado Soapstone LLC of Denver, Colorado
  • Pental Granite and Marble Inc. of Seattle, Washington

The Notice of Investigation further indicates that Chief ALJ Charles E. Bullock is authorized to consolidate the Commission’s separate investigation in 337-TA-996 and this investigation, if the Chief ALJ deems it appropriate.

Lastly, the Commission issued a separate order rejecting certain respondents’ request that the Commission’s Early Disposition Pilot Program be utilized here. Specifically, the Commission found as follows:

Respondents Vicostone Joint Stock Company and Stylen Quaza LLC (collectively, “VSC Stone”) submitted an action request (the “Request”) that the Commission utilize the Early Disposition Pilot Program to determine whether two of the five ' design patents asserted in this investigation are invalid...According to these Respondents, invalidity can be determined by findings on two issues: (1) “whether [Complainant] Cambria is entitled to design patent protection for designs that attempt to mimic naturally occurring stone . . .;” and (2) “whether Cambria can assert patent protection over designs that are dictated by a manufacturing process instead of a reproducible human design”...The Commission has determined not to use the Early Disposition Pilot Program for this investigation. The Request relates to only two of the five asserted patents, and therefore does not involve a case dispositive issue. In addition, use of the Early Disposition Program here would unduly delay resolution of the entire investigation.