With a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission that a Chinese company has been in violation of two of its patents, Kent Displays is sending a warning to others to stay away from the firm’s intellectual property, according to Todd Packer, intellectual property manager for the company.
He said the decision against the Chinese company is essentially a "cease and desist order," calling for an end to production of items based on Kent Displays’ patents.
When companies steal Kent Displays’ intellectual property, Packer said it threatens the company’s future, as well as that of its 85-90 employees, most of whom are working in the Kent location on Portage Boulevard.
"Those jobs are all threatened by people who steal our intellectual property," he said, explaining the company’s strategy to fight to protect is patents, trademarks and copyrights.
Kent Displays Chief Executive Officer Albert Green said he agrees protecting intellectual property is key to the company’s success.
"Our strategy involving the ITC courts has been very deliberate and a big success for us," he said. "We will continue our proactive approach to defend our intellectual property, utilizing tactics that will not risk exposing our trade secrets to potential infringers. In addition to the ITC action, we are exercising our rights to pursue increasingly aggressive avenues, including the federal courts."
The International Trade Commission ruled late last month that Shenzhen SUNstone Technology Co. Ltd. (doing business as iQbe) was in violation of two patents related the Kent Displays’ eWriter, the Boogie Board, according to the Federal Register.
Kent Displays filed the complaint in January.
Now that the International Trade Commission has ruled in Kent Displays’ favor, Packer said the case will go to the White House and a U.S. Trade Representative.
"Technically, the government can block the enforcement of [this ruling], but our attorney has assured us it’s not likely in our case because Kent Displays is a relatively small company."
Packer said eventually iQbe will not be able to import devices using the technology contained in the two patents, one of which covers the arrangement of liquid crystals in the display and the other which covers other aspects of the Boogie Board’s assembly.
"Basically, our products include a plastic writing surface and proprietary liquid crystal formulations," he explained. "When you use a stylus, when you apply pressure, writing appears."
He said the liquid crystals respond to the pressure of the stylus rather than heat (which other screens use) and form writing immediately and accurately, in contrast to the devices many sign when buying items at stores.
Once it is approved by the administration, Packer said Kent Displays will have a "pretty big hammer" to deal with iQbe.
"If we get word that a product is shipped to a place where we have this protection, we can then inform the ecommerce site that it’s a violation," he said. "They can take down the listing."
FB: Bob Gaetjens - Record-Courier