MRI Sues Samsung, Files International Trade Complaint Citing Infringement Of Outdoor Display Patents
August 26, 2022 by Dave Haynes
Atlanta-based custom display manufacturer Manufacturing Resources International (MRI) is going after Samsung in court, and both Samsung and some key business partners via the US International Trade Commission, citing patent infringements with respect to high-brightness outdoor and window displays.
I covered courts for maybe a couple of days, a million years ago, when I was a daily newspaper reporter. I mention this up top as a qualifier in my coverage. You just about need a law degree to decode some of this stuff, and if I misinterpret some of this, that’s why. But here goes …
MRI – not the joint venture (LG-MRI) it has with LG – has filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, asserting a series of patents it suggests Samsung, under series of similarly named entities, has infringed. The LG-MRI JV owns no intellectual property and just has a license to use MRI’s and LGE’s I.P. East Texas courts are kind of ground zero for patent infringement litigation, and if you are wondering why, this article digs into it.
The court complaint claims five counts of how Samsung directly infringes on several aspects of MRI patents for cooling down displays, and specifically references Samsung’s OH series of LED backlit outdoor and semi-outdoor (window) LCD displays.
The August 19th filing seeks a permanent injunction “prohibiting further infringement” and “specifically enjoining further manufacture, use, sale, importation, and/or offers for sale that come within the scope of the patent claims.” It also seeks damages and suggests one resolution might be a “reasonable royalty” for use of the patents on these products.
MRI’s law firm also sent a letter the same day to the US International Trade Commission making a compliant related to the Tariff Act of 1930, and naming that group of Samsung companies, as well as Australia-based QSR solutions provider Coates Group and specialty display manufacturer Palmer Digital Group, which is based in the Chicago area.
That filing says, in its introduction:
Manufacturing Resources International, Inc. (“MRI” or “Complainant”) respectfully requests that the United States International Trade Commission institute an investigation pursuant to Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 U.S.C.§ 1337, to remedy the unlawful and unauthorized importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and/or the sale within the United States after importation of certain outdoor and semi-outdoor electronic displays, products containing same, and components thereof (the “Accused Products”) that infringe, either directly or indirectly, one or more claims ofU.S. Patent Nos. 8,854,595 (the “’595 Patent”); 9,173,322 (the “’322 Patent”); 9,629,287(the “’287 Patent”); 10,506,740 (the “’740 Patent”); 11,013,142 (the “’142 Patent”)(collectively, the “Asserted Patents”).
It goes on to say:
- MRI seeks relief from the Commission in the form of a limited exclusion order under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(d) excluding from entry into the United States any articles, including outdoor and semi-outdoor electronic displays, products containing same, and components thereof that infringe one or more claims of the Asserted Patents;
- MRI further seeks as relief cease-and-desist orders under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(d) that prohibit each Proposed Respondent from marketing, distributing, importing, selling, offering for sale, inducing the use of, or distributing outdoor and semi-outdoor electronic displays, products containing same, and components thereof that infringe one or more claims of the Asserted Patents;
- MRI seeks that the Commission impose a bond upon all Proposed Respondents who continue importing outdoor and semi-outdoor electronic displays, products containing same, and components thereof that infringe one or more claims of the Asserted Patents during the Presidential Review period.
As with the court filing, the complaint is focused on the Samsung OH series of displays and how they are cooled.
On information and belief, the trade filing says, certain models of Samsung’s Accused Products can be installed in outdoor and semi-outdoor environments without additional housing or mechanical support. In many cases, however, Samsung’s Accused Products are sold to parties that integrate them into housings, enclosures, kiosks, and menu boards that, on information and belief, are installed in retail locations and/or sold to customers. On further information and belief, Samsung sells to, among others, integrators like Respondents Coates and Palmer (defined further below) that incorporate the Accused Products into housings, enclosures, kiosks, and menu boards that infringe the Asserted Patents.
What a company wants out of court and trade commission filings, and what it gets, probably varies greatly – but the nut of what MRI is asking here appears to be that Samsung would have to stop bringing that product into the country and maybe even pull out what’s already in the field. A lawyer may say, “That’ll never happen …” but that seems to be part of the ask.
I’m not all that familiar with who Palmer supplies with outdoor displays, but know that the Coates Group has a whale client in McDonald’s, and that most of the drive-thru lane displays deployed in recent years are Coates-supplied, with Samsung displays in the enclosures. That’s something like 8,000 drive thrus, most with multiple screens.
MRI founder Bill Dunn understandably is keeping quiet about the filings, but he did confirm to me their existence. His name is on some 200 awarded or pending patents, and if you visited the company’s offices in the north part of Atlanta, he’d show you a long hallway filled with plaques noting the awarded patents.
If you asked him about how outdoor high-brightness screens are properly cooled, you’d be in for several hours of very technical explanations. Dunn and his guys once gave me 30 minutes on computational fluid dynamics, and I understood roughly none of it.
MRI has a reputation for producing super-reliable screens rated to last 10 years or more, but all the engineering to ensure that longevity means the screens are more costly than those of many to most competitors. The company has tried in the past to chase QSR drive-thru business, but the franchisees who have to pay for screens are, not surprisingly, looking to control capital costs. MRI has had much of its outdoor display success with OOH media owners and has about 40,000 in the field.