The United States files a patent investigation for sweeping robots, involving three Chinese companies
AsiaIndustrial NetNews: On May 3, 2017, the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Mechanical and Electrical Products (hereinafter referred to as the “Mechatronics Chamber of Commerce”) held an American sweep in BeijingrobotAt the 337 investigation and early warning work meeting, the three companies involved in the case from Shenzhen and Suzhou all participated in the meeting and expressed their active response to the lawsuit.
On April 18, the US cleaning robot manufacturer iRobot filed a lawsuit against 11 competitors, accusing them of infringing on six of the company’s technology patents. The accused objects included 3 Chinese companies and 8 foreign companies, including Shenzhen Zhiyi Technology. Co., Ltd., Suzhou Laibao Electric Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Yinxing Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd., and Bissell, Hoover, Royal Electric Manufacturing Co., Ltd., bObsweep, Black & Decker, Panasonic Enterprise Co., Ltd., etc.
The U.S. International Trade Commission will decide whether to open an investigation around May 17. Under the guidance of the Trade Remedy Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce, the Electromechanical Chamber of Commerce will continue to actively organize enterprises to respond to cases.
Among the three Chinese companies involved in this case, Shenzhen Zhiyi has its own brand of sweeping robots in the US market; Suzhou Laibao and Shenzhen Yinxing are foundry companies. Among the other eight foreign companies involved in the case, several have The sweeping robots are OEM by these two Chinese companies.
“The 337 patent investigation generally uses two or three patents. This time, six patents are involved, which shows that iRobot is prepared,” Zhou Nan, secretary general of the Home Appliance Branch of the Electromechanical Chamber of Commerce, told Yicai.com. However, the object of this lawsuit did not point to Ecovacs and Samsung, the other two major companies of sweeping robots. It is possible that these two companies already have enough technical patents to cross the patent barrier.
The sweeping robot market has developed rapidly in recent years, and iRobot’s market share is about 15%. The United States and China are the two largest robot vacuum cleaner markets in the world. Although the US market has a large sales volume, the current penetration rate of robot vacuum cleaners is less than 10%, so the market potential of robot vacuum cleaners is huge. Zhou Nan believes that the reason why iRobot raises the patent stick is that it does not want many companies to lower the price of sweeping robots all of a sudden.
Last year, the United States launched more than 50 Section 337 patent investigations, of which more than 20 were directed at Chinese companies. Zhou Nan said, first, the technical level of Chinese enterprises’ export products has improved; second, trade protection has become more and more severe, and the United States uses this to maintain its own market.
In response to the 337 patent investigation of the balance car last year, the Electromechanical Chamber of Commerce organized the companies involved to actively respond. In the 337 patent investigation of the sweeping robot, the three Chinese companies involved have also hired lawyers to file a lawsuit, which may refute the patent invalidation or no infringement. From the current point of view, it is more likely that its patent will be invalid, after all, some mainstream companies have not been sued.
At the early warning work meeting on May 3, the Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce and the Shenzhen Fair Trade Promotion Bureau sent staff to participate in the meeting for guidance, and 6 professional law firms were invited to the meeting to provide professional opinions.
According to the usual practice, after the US 337 patent investigation is initiated, the case is generally filed 30 days later, and the preliminary ruling will be issued in another 45 days. “We will organize companies to actively respond to the lawsuit and will not give up, because once they lose, these companies will not be able to enter the U.S. market, which is already a tens of billions of dollars and has huge potential,” Zhou Nan said.
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