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USITC Investigating LG's Patent Complaint Against BLU

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Following a complaint last month by LG Electronics, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has started investigating whether Florida-based BLU Products Inc. is indeed in breach of multiple LTE-related patents held by the South Korean company. The USITC released a statement last week, saying that it has “voted to institute an investigation of certain LTE wireless communication devices and components. The products at issue include mobile phones”. LG and its U.S. subsidiaries filed a complaint against BLU last month, alleging that the American company was in violation of at least five of its patents. LG is seeking a cease-and-desist order from the USITC against BLU, and has also filed an infringement lawsuit against the company in a Delaware federal court, seeking unspecified damages.

The lawsuit alleges that a number of BLU products are in violation of patents held by LG. The Dash and Speed series handsets from BLU are specifically singled out by the South Korean firm, which also names CT Miami LLC as one of the co-defendants in its lawsuit for importing many of the allegedly infringing devices into the U.S. on behalf of BLU. While patent disputes among smartphone vendors isn’t exactly a novel occurrence, this is the first time LG says it has filed a patent lawsuit against a competitor for what it calls a “blatant disregard for the intellectual property rights” by the U.S. company. In fact, the South Korean tech company goes so far as to insinuate that BLU is a habitual offender, saying that the company’s attitude this time around is consistent with its traditional practice of “paying no one licensing fees”.

BLU is currently the sixth-largest smartphone vendor in the U.S., having sold around 5.2 million handsets in the country last year. The company sells entry-level and mid-range devices that are targeted at the pre-paid market for the most part, and had a huge hit last year with the $100 BLU R1 HD that actually had an ad-subsidized variant which sold exclusively on Amazon for just $50. LG, on the other hand, is the third-largest smartphone vendor in the country after Apple and Samsung, and makes high-end smartphones like its current flagship, the LG G6. The company also sells smart televisions, smartwatches, computer accessories and various household appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and microwave ovens.

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