Can ObjectVideo Block Bosch, Samsung and Sony Cameras from the US?

By John Honovich, Published Jun 29, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

ObjectVideo has expanded its patent litigation campaign to the US International Trade Commission (ITC), adding to their claim in US District Court. This is especially noteworthy because the US ITC has the power to order US Customs to ban offending products from entering the US (i.e., Bosch, Samsung and Sony IP Surveillance cameras). In this note, we examine ObjectVideo's approach, explain the ITC's role and provide guidance on the potential impact.

With this move, ObjectVideo now has two legal actions proceeding in parallel - ITC and District Court.The matter is proceeding in District Court with Sony and Bosch responding and contesting ObjectVideo's claims. 

[Update: Read the full 80+ page Object Video filing with the ITC [link no longer available].]

The ITC's power comes from Section 337 of the Tarrific Act of 1930 which empowers the ITC to stop unfair trade practices such as violating US patents. Advantages cited include speed of processing (generally complete within 18 months) and broad enforcement (via US Customs).

The ITC process is at the very beginning with ObjectVideo filing a complaint on June 29, 2011 [link no longer available]. ITC will review the compliant and decide on whether to open an investigation. Given historical trends, we believe it is highly likely that the ITC will authorize an investigation.

Once an investigation is approved, hearings are commenced, leading to an Initial Determination (see the ITC's FAQ for details and workflow).

We suspect that the basis of ObjectVideo's claims are similar to that filed in US District Court. Once the investigation is initited, we believe that the filings will be made available on the ITC's information portal.

What This Means

Minimally, this shows the seriousness and level of resources that ObjectVideo is prepared to deliver in this campaign. Regardless of one's position on OV's merits, this demonstrates a willingness and possibility of success.

The potential that ObjectVideo is successfully with the ITC is likely more threatening to Bosch, Samsung and Sony than district court given ITC's seemingly faster process and ability to take stronger action.

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Ultimately, we do not think there is any chance that these manufacturer's cameras will be barred from import. The manufacturer would likely remove the analytics as the functionality is just not critical to the sale or viability of the offering.

We will continue to track this as it moves through the ITC process.

Addendum - OV VP of Product Management Status

While ObjectVideo talked about its commitment to continue developing their product portfolio, we confirmed with ObjectVideo today that their long time VP of Product Management has left the company. Despite this, the individual is still listed on their management team page.

Addendum #2 - OV Interview

In an interview with SIW [link no longer available], OV's CEO claims that the company is profitable and that they would love to work with Bosch, Samsung and Sony after they finishing suing them in multiple courts. Our understanding from those close to the company is that OV's profitability comes from its government contracting business - not its software licensing.

ObjectVideo says that their hope is that the threat of blocking these companies camera sales will force a financial negotiation. We see dropping support for analytics as a likely countermeasure. That noted, an ITC 'victory' would provide a strong foundation for OV to pursue cases against other (generally) smaller companies more dependent on analytic sales.

1 report cite this report:

US ITC to Investigate Object Video Charges on Jul 27, 2011
On July 27th, the US International Trade Commission (USITC) announced it...
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