In some very last-minute maneuvering, Irvine’s Vizio was allowed to continue selling its TVs in the United States, at least for the near future. That’s right — the nation’s top LCD TV seller appeared thisclose to pulling its HDTVs from store shelves.
Vizio said late Wednesday that it was granted a temporary stay against a federal order to stop importing HDTVs into the United States that infringed on a patent owned by Funai Electric Company, a rival that sells Emerson, Sylvania and Symphonic HDTVs.
But the stay only offers the United States International Trade Commission a bit more time to reverse its April decision to ban imports of TVs that infringe on a Funai patent, also known as the ’074 patent.
Funai had issued a statement on Tuesday celebrating the end of the ITC 60-day deadline for any presidential intervention. If it hadn’t been for the temporary stay, Vizio would have joined the TV brands Proview, AOC, Ölevia, and Envision from selling infringing TVs in the U.S.
“This is a significant first step in the appellate review process. We are confident that the Federal Circuit will reverse the ITC’s earlier determination and vindicate VIZIO’s position in light of the recent final rejection of the ’074 patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The court’s action today serves as yet another affirmation that business is to be conducted as usual despite abusive and anti-competitive behavior from competitors,” Laynie Newsome, Vizio’s vice president of sales and marketing communications said in a statement.
Vizio has been plagued with patent lawsuits from smaller companies and believes such fees could add $30 to the price of every TV it sells. While it does pay licensing fees on proven digital TV components, Vizio feels that companies are coming out of nowhere trying to collect money because of Vizio’s spectacular rise to the top of the HDTV industry in just a few short years. Funai has been particularly litigious.
But Vizio may not be in such dire straits as previously thought. In a response to President Obama’s inaction Tuesday, Vizio said, “the products involved with this particular claim are obsolete, and no longer in mass production. Therefore we believe this action will not impact our ability to conduct our business in normal fashion.”
As Gizmodo points out, “Ban on Vizio HDTV Imports Upheld, But Does It Even Matter?.”
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