On July 3, 2014, the International Trade Commission (“the Commission”) issued the public version of its opinion in Certain Compact Fluorescent Reflector Lamps, Products Containing Same and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-872).

By way of background, the investigation is based on a complaint filed by Andrzej Bobel and Neptun Light, Inc. (collectively, “Neptun”) alleging violation of Section 337 in the importation into the U.S. and sale of certain compact fluorescent reflector lamps (“reflector CFLs”), and products and components containing same, that infringe claims 1, 2, 10, and 11 of U.S. Patent No. 7,053,540 (the ‘540 patent).  See our January 30, 2013 and March 1, 2013 posts for more details on Neptun’s complaint and the Notice of Investigation, respectively.  On February 3, 2014, ALJ Shaw determined that Respondents Maxlite, Inc.; Satco Products, Inc.; and Litetronics International, Inc.’s (collectively, “Respondents”) importation and sale of certain reflector CFLs infringed asserted claims 1, 2, 10, and 11.  See our March 14, 2014 post for more details on the public version of the ID.  On April 8, 2014, the Commission issued a notice determining to review ALJ Shaw’s findings on the construction of “mating opening,” infringement, and the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement.  See our April 10, 2014 post for more details on the notice.

According to the Opinion, the Commission determined that the term “mating opening” needs no construction and should be given its plain and ordinary meaning. ALJ Shaw construed the term to mean “an area of the light source base (i.e., the portion through which the light source is inserted) is located,” which the Commission rejected as effectively eliminating the “mating opening” limitation.  As an initial matter, the Commission found that the “mating” portion of the term was not in dispute and, therefore, did not need to be construed.  As to the “opening” portion of the term, the Commission held that the term is a common and easily understood term. Additionally, the Commission determined that the term did not have a special meaning to those of ordinary skill in the art in the field of the ‘540 patent.  Accordingly, the Commission held that “opening” needs no construction, and should be given its plain and ordinary meaning.

The Commission reversed ALJ Shaw’s infringement determination, holding that Respondents products do not infringe the ‘540 patent either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents.  Specifically, the Commission determined that Respondents’ products do not satisfy the “mating opening,” “said base being inside said defined cavity of said reflector and located inside said mating opening,” “first circumferential flange of the reflector cavity,” and “second circumferential flange of the light source base” limitations.

As to the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement, the Commission took no position on the issue of whether Neptun satisfied the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement.

Accordingly, the Commission determined that Neptun failed to prove a violation of Section 337.