Feds Probe Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Motorola Over Patents; Could Halt US Imports

A California-based firm holding many tech patents is filing complaints against the major PC companies over video processing found on some devices. ‘It’s one of those things you have to take a wait-and-see approach on. But whenever they do these investigations, it impacts those companies big time. There’s real risk there,’ said one solution provider executive.


The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) Wednesday announced it would investigate claims that Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Motorola and others imported and sold “certain video processing devices and products” containing patented technology.

The complaint, filed under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and provoked by Palo Alto, Calif.-based VideoLabs, requests that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders that would effectively block importation of affected devices temporarily.

After a ruling, the USITC could enforce a ban on imports containing the patented technology. MSI Computer of California and Taiwan-based Micro-Star International were also named in the complaint. Any ban could prove to be a major headache for the accused companies, as the patents seem to relate to a broad swath of device displays, including many PCs, media players, smartphones, and tablets.

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CRN has reached out to VideoLabs, Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and Motorola for comment.

VideoLabs is a group that aggregates patents and files infringement cases. The group claims PCs (and other devices) made by the companies named feature certain GPUs with video processing capabilities that allegedly infringe on four of the company’s patents. Three patents in the complaint cover video coding methods developed by Panasonic, while the fourth describes a method of video playback on portable devices that was developed by Samsung in the early 2000s.

According to a release from the USITC, the commission “will make a final determination in the investigation at their earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after instition of the investigation, the USITC will set a target date for completing the investigation.”

Established in 2018, VideoLabs has filed five other major complaints this year alone against Meta, Disney, Netflix, Amazon and Starz. According to its website, the company “proactively identify, acquire, and license high quality video patents through our unique patent collective platform enabling patent owners a better path towards monetization while providing great efficiency to the industry.”

The company boasts more than $6 billion in revenue from patent sales, licensing, and litigation. VideoLabs owns patents from Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens AG, 3Com, Panasonic, HPE and more. HPE are members in the VideoLabs patent collective.

Bob Venero, president and CEO of Future Tech Enterprise Inc., a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based IT solutions provider, said the investigation could prove to be painful for the PC giants. “It’s one of those things you have to take a wait-and-see approach on,” he said. “But whenever they do these investigations, it impacts those companies big time. There’s real risk there.”