Reexamination Request Filed Against Funai Patent

Scott Daniels | March 17, 2009

After some initial procedural difficulty, an ex parte request for reexamination was filed with the PTO, alleging a substantial new question of patentability with respect to claims 1-4 of U.S. Patent No. 6,021,018. The ‘018 patent is owned by Funai Electric Co., Ltd., and is entitled “LOADING MECHANISM FOR LOADING A VIDEO CASSETTE.” This is a mechanical subsystem for opening and closing a VCR door.

The request appears to have been filed on behalf of Daewoo Electric Motor Industries Ltd. Daewoo was accused by Funai of infringing the ‘018 patent in the Northern District of California (3:04cv1830) in a case filed in May 2004. A jury later found that Daewoo had willfully infringed the ‘018 patent, as well as two other patents, and awarded the ‘018 patentee $9.5 million. The only matter remaining to be decided appears to be the patentee’s request for its expenses.

Reexamination requests have also been filed for the other two Funai patents in the litigation.

(May 1, 2009)

The PTO granted the request for reexamination of the ‘018 patent on May 1, finding that a substantial new question of patentability exists.

The PTO noted that the original examiner had relied upon the claim limitation – so that said door is opened before said cassette holder is moved when said cassette holder is moved to said initial position – in his statement of reasons for allowance. In the present Action, the PTO states that this limitation is satisfied by one of the prior art references asserted in the reexamination request. Interestingly, that reference is identified on the cover page of the ‘018 patent.

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