LG Sues Hisense over Smart TV Patents

On November 4, plaintiff LG Electronics Inc., (LGE) represented by Sidley Austin LLP, filed a complaint against defendants Hisense Electronics Manufacturing Company of America Corporation, et al. for patent infringement (LG Electronics Inc. v. Hisense Electronics Manufacturing Company of America Corporation 2:19-cv-09474) at the District Court for the Central District of California. The complaint alleged that the Chinese-based electronics manufacturer Hisense was involved in the import and receipt of the infringing products and components thereof to be assembled to be manufactured abroad. The complaint stated that the infringing televisions are sold at Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart.

The four patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent No. 8,456,592 as RE46,795 (“’795 patent”), entitled “Backlight Unit and Liquid Crystal Display Including the Same” issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on April 17, 2018; U.S. Patent No. 10,334,311 (“’311 patent”), entitled “Method of Providing External Device List and Image Display Device” issued on June 25; U.S. Patent No. 9,271,191 (“’191 patent”), entitled “Method and Apparatus for Transmitting Data Frame in WLAN System” issued on February 23, 2016; and U.S. Patent No. 7,839,452 (“’452 patent”), entitled “Image Display Device in Digital TV” issued on November 23, 2010. These cover a range of technology for smart televisions, including LED related lighting, user interface, and image sharpening technology.

Hisense was notified of the patents and the infringement. The complaint claimed that the notice letter offered to discuss licensing the patents. The letter confirmed “LGE’s willingness to license its standard-essential Wi-Fi Patents upon fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions.” Upon request, LGE sent more detailed allegations. LGE requested an in-person meeting, which was repeatedly pushed back by Hisense. Hisense has not agreed to license the Patents.

Hisense allegedly infringed upon Patent ’795 with at least Hisense model 55H9D and 55H9EPlus and other similar edge-lit televisions, including televisions with ‘H9D’ and ‘H9EPlus’ in the model number, particularly claim 20 of the patent. Hisense infringed upon the patent because it “advertised and currently advertises its televisions as allowing a user to watch cable channels, use streaming platforms, and play games, among other things. Each of these activities – and any other activity that would cause a user to operate the television – requires use of the back-light unit that infringes at least claim 20 of the ’795 patent.” The complaint alleges that the back-light structure is essential for television operation.    

Hisense infringes on at least claim one of the ’311 patent with models 55R7E and 50R7050E, and other televisions with an “R” or “H4” model number. The complaint alleges that Hisense’s 55R7E user manual instructs users to “set up multiple inputs, and the user manual instructs users to switch between inputs and select highlighted options in a manner that infringes at least claim one of the ’311 patent.”

At least claim six of Patent ’191 is infringed upon by Hisense by at least models 55H9EPlus and 55H9F, and other televisions complying with the Wi-Fi 802.11ac standard. Hisense advertises these Wi-Fi capabilities for the specified models, especially the infringing 802.11ac connection capability to Wi-Fi and instructs users how to connect.

Lastly, Hisense infringes on at least claim one of Patent ’452 on at least models 55H9F and 55R7E and other 4K televisions. These televisions infringe through image display the complaint alleges. For example, 55R7E’s user guide shows users how to display program information in different ways, how to turn on closed captioning and other information in relation to closed captioning.

LGE seeks relief from damages, including Hisense’s liability for patent infringement and the prevention of future acts of infringement, compensation from damages, Hisense to pay LGE’s expenses in relation to the suit, and that LGE should be awarded all its costs, interest, legal relief, declaratory relief, equitable relief and other relief determined by the court.