Toyota has been a global presence for years. The company has produced some of the most well known cars in the world, such as the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Corolla. Although Toyota has been around for some time now, their cars get new features and upgrades every year. One new exciting upgrade that we may see in the future that Toyota may produce is an autonomous self driving feature that may allow the car to drive itself.
Click here to read more about Toyota’s self driving cars.
But there are some foreseeable bumps and roadblocks in Toyota’s future. Several other companies have alleged that Toyota infringed on several patents. Let’s take a look at some of the lawsuits that have been filed against Toyota.
One of the complaints
America GNC Corp. (GNC) has alleged that Toyota, along with several other car producers, has infringed on its patents. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Texas and the patents involve certain patents assigned to GNC, which are US. Patent No. 6,311,555, US. Patent No. 6,411,871, and US Patent No. 6,480,789. GNC alleges that Toyota has made vehicles and yaw rate sensors which include the systems or methods claimed by GNC’s patents. But GNC’s lawsuit is just one of Toyota’s legal woes.
To read GNC’s complaint about Toyota, click here.
Other legal issues
Broadcom has also alleged that Toyota and various other companies have infringed on their patents. But Broadcom’s case is a little different: Broadcom has filed a Section 337 patent infringement investigation with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). Section 337 actions are a bit different since it is the USITC that is involved, which concerns importation of goods. A section 337 proceeding is where the USITC “determines whether there is unfair competition in the importation of products into, or their subsequent sale in, the United States. Section 337 declares the infringement of a U.S. patent, copyright, registered trademark, or mask work to be an unlawful practice in import trade. Section 337 also declares unlawful other unfair methods of competition and unfair acts in the importation and subsequent sale of products in the United States, the threat or effect of which is to destroy or substantially injure a domestic industry, prevent the establishment of such an industry, or restrain or monopolize trade and commerce in the United States.”
What happens in a 337 investigation
After receiving a complaint “alleging, under oath, a violation of section 337, the USITC determines whether the complaint satisfies the requirements of the Commission’s rules and an investigation should be instituted. Following institution, the USITC conducts an investigation to determine whether the statute has been violated.”
How is this different from litigation in court or IPR?
When the court hears a patent infringement case, it may have the authority to deem the patent invalid or valid. Inter partes review (or IPR) may also involve the Patent Trial and Appeal Board determining the validity of a patent. But in 337 investigations, the USITC may issue exclude the products from entering the United States and/or direct the violating parties to cease certain actions. If infringement is found, injury may not be needed to establish a violation of section 337. Moreover, violators of section 337 orders can be liable for penalties up to $100,000 a day or twice the value of the imported articles.
What kind of patents will protect inventions?
Generally, a utility patent will protect inventions that have some sort of use or utility. Moreover, an invention needs to meet several statutory requirements before it can be eligible for patent protection. These requirements need the invention to be novel, non-obviousness, have utility, and be considered patentable subject matter.
How does infringement occur?
Usually, an individual or entity needs to have a patent on their invention before there can be any form of patent infringement. Infringement can then occur when an unauthorized individual or entity makes, uses, sells, offers for sale, or import a device covered by the patent into the United States without authorization.
What are your thought’s on the patent infringement accusations against Toyota? What about the section 337 investigations. Leave a comment below to let us know what you think!
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Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice. It is only for educational or entertainment purposes only. Please do not use the article or contents of the article without permission. For legal advice and questions, please contact registered Patent Attorney Vincent LoTempio.