U.S. ITC Launches Investigation Into Capacitive Devices Made by Apple and Others Following Patent Infringement Complaint

The United States International Trade Commission today announced an investigation into possible patent violations involving capacitive touch-controlled devices, computers, and components created by Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and others, reports Reuters.

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According to a document announcing the investigation [PDF], it stems from a February complaint filed by Irish company Neodron claiming Apple and other companies are infringing on Neodron-owned patents related to touch-based devices.

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Neodron, Ltd., of Dublin, Ireland, on February 14, 2020. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain capacitive touch-controlled mobile devices, computers, and components thereof that infringe patents asserted by the complainant. The complainant requests that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.

The ITC will investigate the complaint, which involves Amazon, Apple, ASUSTek, ASUS computer International, LG Electronics, LG Electronics USA, Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and Sony Mobile Communications to determine if there have been patent violations under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.

Neodron is ultimately seeking a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders against the companies involved in the investigation. The ITC says that the launch of the investigation does not mean that a decision has been made on the merits of the case.

The case will be assigned to an administrative law judge who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing to make an initial determination as to whether there is indeed a patent infringement issue.

The U.S. ITC previously announced a similar investigation into touch-controlled devices, computers, and components in June, but Apple was not part of that particular investigation, which has now been expanded.

Top Rated Comments

az431 Avatar
21 months ago

Patent trolls deserve corona.
The fact that someone seeks to enforce a patent automatically makes them a patent troll?

And even if they were, what’s the difference? Under patent law, you either own a valid and enforceable patent or you don’t. End of story.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gsmornot Avatar
21 months ago
I know how this company feels. I have a patent I am getting ready to file on. “Battery inside device”. Each company that put the battery inside has infringed on my idea. Wish me luck.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mannyvel Avatar
21 months ago
Wow, that's going to be one heck of a patent win. Everything today uses a capacitive touchscreen, including in-car displays.

The problem is the patent was filed in 2009, and the iPhone came out in 2007. It could be that it covers new development in capacitive screens. It would be relatively easy for Apple to argue prior art on this...or demonstrate indemnification by the people that supply Apple with the screens.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
triscuitbiscuit Avatar
21 months ago

The fact that someone seeks to enforce a patent automatically makes them a patent troll?

And even if they were, what’s the difference? Under patent law, you either own a valid and enforceable patent or you don’t. End of story.
It's because it is bad faith. Patent trolls don't actually do anything of import. They simply exploit laws. If there was something legitimate like Ford copying a patent that Chevy did- that is what patents are intended for. But a company that acts as a patent troll has zero intention of actually putting a patent to use.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ulyssesric Avatar
21 months ago
A few interesting factors:

1. This law suite was initially started in May 29, 2019, and the initial target is Lenova, then all the others were involved.

2. All the patents were initially owned by Atmel, then transferred to Microchip when they merged Atmel, then acquired by Neodron Ltd at the end of Dec, 2018.

3. The suitor, Neodron Ltd, just opened for business few days ago, on Dec 18, 2018.

In other words, this is either a plotted operation against some specific target by you-know-who, or a very disgusting patent troll case.


The fact that someone seeks to enforce a patent automatically makes them a patent troll?
No, but a company that was established just few days before the acquisition of these patents, and they started law suite immediately after acquiring these patents, and they're not doing any kind of business at all except these law suites, that automatically makes it a patent troll.


And even if they were, what’s the difference? Under patent law, you either own a valid and enforceable patent or you don’t. End of story.
No it's far from end. You're the patent owner doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Under patent law, your patent could be invalidated. In U.S., there are 5 ways to claim invalidation on a patent: Prior Art, Proof of Sale or Public Use, Improper Formation, Inventor’s Oath, and Break in Priority Chain. A patent troll case like this is highly possible to be canceled by the fifth rule.

Investigate the detail before rush replying.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GeoStructural Avatar
21 months ago

The fact that someone seeks to enforce a patent automatically makes them a patent troll?

And even if they were, what’s the difference? Under patent law, you either own a valid and enforceable patent or you don’t. End of story.
For so many people here Apple is never at fault.

People have complained in this forum that Qualcom’s royalties are on the verge of being illegal yet Apple charges a fee to use their old lightning cable and they find that more reasonable.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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