Plaintiff Universal Electronics has filed four patent infringement suits against television manufacturers Hisense Co., Funai Electric Company, and TCL Electronics Holdings, as well as streaming device manufacturer Roku. All cases were filed in the California Central District Court. Universal Electronics is represented by Alston & Bird. The patents at issue pertain to universal remote controls that can be used to control multiple devices. The suits refer to Roku devices or devices with integrations with Roku’s streaming platform.
The Patents-in-suit, in various combinations across the four suits are U.S. Patent No. 7,589,642 (the “’642 Patent”); 7,969,514 (the “’514 Patent”); 9,911,325 (the “’325 Patent”);10,325,486 (the “’486 Patent”); 10,600,317 (the “’317 Patent”); 8,004,389 (the “’389 Patent”); 9,641,785 (the “’785 Patent”); 10,593,196 (the “’196 Patent”).
Universal Electronics alleges that Hisense Co. infringes at least claim 2 of the ’642 by “using, making, offering to sell, and/or selling without authority in the United States certain universal control devices, including but not limited to the Hisense Accused Products.” The patent generally relates to “methods and devices allowing remote control devices to control one or more electronic consumer devices.” This allowed one remote to work for multiple devices. Universal Electronics claims that Hisense’s devices use “every element of claim 2…when used as intended by Hisense.” They also allege that Hisense and others induce infringement by having customers use these allegedly infringing devices.
Funai Electric Company allegedly infringes the ’325 patent, specifically, at least claim 1 of the patent. Claim 1 is for “[a] first device for transmitting a command to control a functional operation of a second device.” Funai’s allegedly infringing products “are first devices for transmitting a command to control a functional operation of a second device.”
Similarly, TCL Electronics is accused of infringing at least claim1 of the ’317 patent, which provides “a device for enabling set up of a controlling device capable of controlling a plurality of appliances, via an interactive instruction set and associated programming.” Claim 1 states that it is “[a] controlled device” that includes “a receiver for receiving communications from a remotely located controlling device.” TCL’s Accused Products “contain a receiver for receiving communications from a remotely located controlled device,” such as when the infringing products use “wireless communications to communicate with a Roku remote control, which requires either an IR or a wireless receiver.”
Roku allegedly infringes the ’785 patent, which “generally relates to a system for configuring a remote control to issue commands directly to a target appliance (like a TV) or indirectly to the target appliance (e.g., remote commands go to set-top box, then set-top box commands the TV) depending on whether the target appliance is responsive to commands via these communication paths.” Specifically, Roku infringes on at least claim 1 of the patent its products involve “a controlling device in communication with the media source device via a first communications link.”
This is not the first time Universal Electronics pursued infringement claims against Roku. Another suit, filed in 2018, is stayed while petitions before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board are resolved.