On April 5, 2013, ALJ Thomas B. Pender issued the public version of the Initial Determination (“ID,” dated February 27, 2013) finding no violation of Section 337 in Certain Dimmable Compact Fluorescent Lamps and Products Containing Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-830).

By way of background, the International Trade Commission instituted this investigation on February 22, 2012 based on a complaint filed by Complainants Neptun Light, Inc. and Andrzej Bobel’s (collectively, “Neptun”).  Neptun alleged that the named Respondents violated Section 337 by importing into the United States, selling for importation, and selling within the United States after importation certain dimmable compact fluorescent lamps (“CFLs”) that infringe certain claims of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,434,480 (the ‘480 patent) and 8,035,318 (the ‘318 patent).  Specifically, Neptun alleged that U Lighting America Inc.’s (“ULA”) CFLs infringe claim 9 of the ‘480 patent and Technical Consumer Products, Inc.; Shanghai Qiangling Electronics Co. Ltd.; and Zhejiang Qiang Ling Electronic Co. Ltd.’s (collectively, “TCP”) CFLs infringe claims 1 and 12 of the ‘318 patent.   See our February 23, 2012 post for more details about this investigation.

The ‘480 Patent

According to the ID, the parties disputed the meaning of the phrase “a resonant boosting circuit integrates into the power line rectifier.” ALJ Pender determined that the phrase should be given its plain and ordinary meaning.  ALJ Pender based his determination on the intrinsic record and the uncontroverted testimony of Neptun’s expert witness.  ALJ Pender noted that the majority of ULA’s claim construction arguments were purely attorney arguments without evidentiary support.

As to infringement, ALJ Pender held that ULA’s CFLs do not infringe claim 9 of the ‘480 patent.  ALJ Pender rejected ULA’s arguments because ULA failed to present any evidence in support of its contentions.  Further, ALJ Pender pointed to testimony given by Neptun’s expert witness that refuted all of ULA’s non-infringement arguments.

ALJ Pender determined that Neptun’s Domestic Industry Products practice claim 9 of the ‘480 and, therefore, meet the technical prong of the domestic industry requirement.  ULA did not challenge Neptun’s allegations that it met the technical prong of the domestic industry requirement. 

Similarly, ULA did not challenge the validity of the ‘480 patent.  

The ‘318 Patent

According to the ID, the parties disputed the meaning of three phrases: 1) “being AC clamped to the received AC signal,” 2) “adapts the DC feedback signal in response to changes in the received AC signal,” and 3) “clamping of the oscillator circuit to the AC power line.”  Regarding the phrase “being AC clamped to the received AC signal,” ALJ Pender held that the phrase should be construed to mean “being joined to the AC signal received by the bridge rectifier.”  As to the phrase “adapts the DC feedback signal in response to changes in the received AC signal,” ALJ Pender determined that the phrase should be given its plain and ordinary meaning.  Lastly, ALJ Pender held that the final claim term in dispute, “clamping of the oscillator circuit to the AC power line,” means “’joining the output voltage of the oscillator circuit to the AC power line.”

Regarding infringement, ALJ Pender determined that the Accused Products failed to satisfy the “AC Clamping” limitation of claims 1 and 12.  Specifically, ALJ Pender held that the Accused Products clamp to the rectified voltage at the output of the rectifier and not the received AC signal.  Accordingly, ALJ Pender held that the Accused Products do not infringe the asserted claims of the ‘318 patent.

As to validity, ALJ Pender determined that none of TCP’s invalidity arguments rendered the assert claims invalid as anticipated or obvious.  ALJ Pender rejected TCP’s anticipation arguments because they relied on a claim construction that was not accepted.  ALJ Pender rejected TCP’s obviousness arguments because, among other reasons, TCP failed to provide evidence as to how a person of ordinary skill in the art would modify the asserted references to arrive at the asserted claims.

Lastly, ALJ Pender held that Neptun’s Domestic Industry Products practice the claim 12 of the ‘318 patent.

Economic Prong

ALJ Pender determined that Neptun failed to satisfy the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement under Section 337(a)(3)(A), (B), or (C).  Specifically, ALJ Pender held that Neptun failed to prove that it was anything more than an importer who performs inspection incidental to the importation.  Further, ALJ Pender held that Neptun failed to explain how any of its disclosed expenditures relate specifically to products that practice the ‘318 or ‘480 patents.  Based on his finding that Neptun failed to satisfy the economic prong of the domestic industry requirement with respect to either the ‘318 or ‘480 patents, ALJ Pender determined that the Respondents did not violate Section 337.