The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has two ongoing investigations involving replacement automotive headlights and taillights made by four aftermarket and/or recycled parts manufacturers for alleged patent infringements.
Kia Corporation, of Seoul, Republic of Korea and Kia America, Inc. of Irvine, California, filed a lawsuit with the USITC on December 16, 2021 alleging patent infringement and violations of Section 337 of the Act 1930 tariff for the importation into the United States and the sale of certain replacement automobile lamps. Hyundai Motor Company, of Seoul, Republic of Korea, and Hyundai Motor America, Inc. of Fountain Valley, California, also filed complaints on the same day for the same reasons.
The Kia patents relate to replacement headlights and taillights for the 2011-2018 Optima model years and the 2014-2018 Sorento model years.
The Hyundai patents relate to the 2011-2019 Sonata model years, 2010-2017 Santa Fe and 2011-2018 Elantra model years. The “remedial orders” sought by plaintiffs from the USITC consist of issuing a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.
The allegations are against Taiwanese company TYC Brother Industrial Co. and its subsidiary Genera Corp. based in Brea, Calif., as well as LKQ Corp. in Chicago, Illinois, and its subsidiary Keystone Automotive Industries, Inc. based in Exeter, Pennsylvania.
The Hyundai and Kia complaints were drafted and filed by attorney P. Andrew Riley of Mei & Mark LLP. Riley wrote that 21 Hyundai patents and 20 Kia patents were infringed and that the lamps in question for both brands were “illegally imported, sold for importation and sold after importation”.
Both complaints also state, “The requested remedial orders would not adversely affect public health and welfare in the United States, the conditions of competition in the United States economy, the production of similar items, or directly competing in the United States or the United States. consumer states. The remedial orders sought by Hyundai would protect Hyundai’s investment in its U.S. auto industry, promote clarity about the origin of replacement automotive lamps, and reduce customer confusion and parts-related safety issues. Hyundai is committed to serving the US market.
The USITC will set by the first week of March — 45 days after the investigations began on Jan. 18 — a target date for completing the investigations, according to the Commission’s press releases announcing the investigations.
Bob Masone, senior marketing manager for LKQ Corp., told Repairer Driven News that LKQ is aware of the USITC investigations and pointed out that there are ongoing lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District. of Illinois against Hyundai and Kia regarding several of the patents in question. . He said the lawsuits seek “statements that most of the patents at issue in the ITC proceedings are invalid.” Jury trials are required for both.
“Rather than arguing these cases on the merits, Hyundai and Kia decided to dismiss them on the grounds that it would be inappropriate to assert personal jurisdiction in Illinois,” Masone said. “LKQ is confident that he will prevail in both forums.”
The motions to dismiss have not yet been decided. Hyundai’s motion will be heard on February 11. Kia’s motion to dismiss remains under
notice and a status hearing is scheduled for March 3.
Both lawsuits state that the OEMs took “affirmative steps…to interfere with LKQ’s business operations by claiming that vehicle parts distributed by LKQ infringe” patents. The lawsuits go on to assert that if it weren’t for the aftermarket aftermarket parts companies “there would be only one source of replacement parts for any given car model: the OEM, making each vehicle model a miniature monopoly market in itself”.
LKQ is asking in the lawsuits that Kia and Hyundai be “restrained and barred from suing or bringing any action against LKQ or purchasers of LKQ’s products alleging infringement of the alleged patents or representing LKQ’s products or their use on networks operated by purchasers of these products infringe alleged patents.
This isn’t the first time Hyundai has come up against an aftermarket supplier to import parts from overseas and sell them in the United States. Hyundai sued Direct Technologies International in 2017 for allegedly representing gray market components in a way that could cause confusion and steal or damage the reputation the OEM had built with the retail chain. US parts supply authorized. In 2020, DTI paid Hyundai $5 million and the two agreed to end lawsuits against each other related to a dispute over gray market parts.
Featured Image Credit: Bill Oxford/iStock
Kia Optima (Credit: Tramino/iStock)
Hyundai Sonata (Credit: jetcityimage/iStock)