On February 26, 2021, the ITC issued a Notice of Investigation in Certain Robotic Floor Cleaning Devices and Components Thereof (Inv. No. 337-TA-1252).
By way of background, this investigation is based on a January 28, 2021 complaint (see Part I, Part II, and Part III) filed by iRobot Corporation of Bedford, Massachusetts ("iRobot") alleging a violation of Section 337 by four SharkNinja respondents based in Needham, Massachusetts, EP Midco LLC of Needham, Massachusetts, and SharkNinja Hong Kong Co. Ltd (collectively, "Respondents") in the unlawful importation and sale in the U.S. of certain robotic floor cleaning devices and components thereof that infringe iRobot's U.S. Patent Nos. 9,884,423 ("the '423 patent"); 10,813,517 ("the '517 patent"); 10,835,096 ("the '096 patent"); 7,571,511 ("the '511 patent"); and 10,296,007 ("the '007 patent"). According to the complaint, the '511 patent generally relates to autonomous floor cleaning robot components designed to optimize cleaning capability and efficiency; the '423 patent generally relates to systems and methods for docking and managing the energy state of an autonomous robotic device; the '007 patent generally relates to a cleaning robot that can steer itself to stay within a boundary corresponding to a particular floor type; the '517 patent generally relates to a robotic floor cleaning device capable of autonomously identifying "hot spots" or "predefined zones" in which to initiate prescribed conduct associated with the area; and the '096 patent generally relates to a cleaning robot and methods of operating such robots that conducts training runs to create a map of a cleaning environment, allowing the user to accept or delete the map(s) it creates via a mobile phone, and then presenting a master map based on the training maps.
iRobot is requesting that the Commission issue a permanent limited exclusion order and a permanent cease and desist order directed to Respondents. According to the Notice of Investigation, the Office of Unfair Import Investigations will not participate as a party in the investigation. Lastly, Chief ALJ Charles E. Bullock issued a notice indicating that ALJ MaryJoan McNamara will preside in the investigation.
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