Ban on Vizio HDTV Imports Upheld, But Does It Even Matter?

Back in April, when the ITC ordered Vizio to stop US imports of HDTVs that infringed on a patent held by Funai, President Obama was given 60 days to intervene. He didn't! Nor did he need to, it seems.

The best, and really, only source of information on the status of the legal conflict comes from the two companies themselves, who have each sent out deliberately opaque press releases on the matter. From Funai:

Funai today marked a major achievement in its quest to end patent infringement by VIZIO and other television manufacturers. Today was the last day of a 60-day period in which US President Barack Obama could overrule the US International Trade Commission's (ITC) determination that VIZIO and other companies infringe on Funai's digital television patent...As of tomorrow, the ITC's exclusion order is final and [Vizio is] barred from importing or selling infringing Digital television products in the U.S.

Hooray for Funai! Down with Vizio! Justice has been served! But wait, take a close look at the language:

[Vizio is] barred from importing or selling infringing Digital television products in the U.S.

So not all Vizio products have been banned, just infringing ones. It's obvious, necessary language, but also an important distinction. To Vizio:

The products involved with this particular claim are obsolete, and no longer in mass production. Therefore we believe this action will not impact our ability to conduct our business in normal fashion

So—and please, commenter-lawyers, correct me if I'm wrong—it sounds like an import and sales ban has been upheld for past Vizio products, not anything they plan to import from now on. Nonetheless, the company is appealing the ITC's decision again, whether it be to help clear present inventory or to avoid some kind of future fines or legal difficulties. In short, Vizio's cheap, OK TVs—the most popular in the country—will probably still be in Best Buy tomorrow. [HdGuru]