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UEI Sues URC over 9 Alleged Patent Infringements

Universal Electronics Inc. files more patent-infringement suits against URC for remotely upgradable remote controls, user interfaces, computer programmable remotes, more. URC claims UEI patents not valid.


Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI) alleges patent infringement against URC (formerly Universal Remote Control). URC claims UEI patents are based on products that were already in the marketplace.
Julie Jacobson · July 8, 2013

One year after accusing URC of infringing on four patents related to remote controls, Universal Electronics Inc. is suing again, alleging infringement on nine additional patents.

The latest lawsuit, relating to patents dating back to 1993, apply to PC-programmable remote controls, upgrading remotes via the phone lines, component status monitoring and user interfaces.

It follows a suit filed in 2012 alleging URC infringed on four patents related to a FAVORITE key macro, backlighting on a remote control, selecting IR command sets, and issuing IR macro commands in general.

URC responded to the latest salvo with this statement issued today:

We believe that this lawsuit is a continuation of UEI’s earlier March, 2012 lawsuit that accused URC of infringing on four of its other patents.  In the earlier lawsuit, two of the patents have already expired (one had expired about six years ago). …

The court reviewed these four patents in the early stages of the proceeding and declared that one unexpired patent is invalid and certain asserted claims in two other patents are also invalid. UEI requested reconsideration on the invalidated patent and the court reaffirmed its decision in May.

URC is challenging the validity of the remaining claims of the three patents in court and in a review proceeding in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). URC believes that the inventions claimed in these patents were used in products already existing in the marketplace before UEI applied for patents claiming them as its inventions. Products and publications that are already available in the marketplace cannot and should not be patented by a third party since they are in the public domain.

In the latest lawsuit, UEI asserts URC (formerly Universal Remote Control) infringes on the following US Patents:

No. 5,228,077, “Remotely Upgradable Universal Remote Control” (1993)

No. 5,255,313, “Universal Remote Control System” (1993)

No. 5,414,761, “Remote Control System” (1995)

No. 5,552,917, “Remote Control” (1996)

The five patents above include provisions for connecting the remote to a computer for downloading data and instructions to the device, as well as a mechanism for transmitting data to the remote via the phone lines.

No. RE39,059, “Computer Programmable Remote Control” (2006)

Multiple user selectable screen objects may be created from a general purpose computer and transferred to the remote control unit. The screen objects include screen layout and descriptions of soft keys to be displayed on a graphic display of the remote control unit, as well as commands associated with the screen object, the soft keys and programmable keys on the remote control unit. The user may select any of the loaded screen objects for controlling various multimedia processing units, for performing complex functions of commands to various multimedia processing units.

6,407,779, “Method and Apparatus for an Intuitive Universal Remote Control System” (2002)

The present invention discloses a novel universal remote control system. Specifically, the remote control system according to the present invention provides the following features: bidirectional communications between the remote control and at least one of the audio/video devices; dual communication mode; automatic communication mode selection; loading and processing electronic program guide in the remote control; soft graphical user interface in the remote control; expanding the television set functions by the remote control; calibration handshake between the remote control and the audio/video device; updating the remote control; lost beacon signal in the remote control; handwriting recognition mechanism, and voice recognition mechanism in the remote control.

No. 7,126,468, “System and Method for Monitoring Remote Control Transmissions” (2006)

Status monitoring for remote-controlled devices

The system monitors remote control transmissions for the purpose of updating state tables for one or more remotely controllable appliances. The state tables may then be queried for the purpose of determining the present state of an appliance whereby the transmission of a command that would place an appliance in an unintended state may be avoided.

No. 7,589,642, “Relaying Key Code Signals Through A Remote Control Device” (2009)

Method of interpreting and relaying IR signals from a remote via a separate component such that thousands of unique command sets need not be stored in the remote itself.

No. 7,831,930
, “System and Method for Displaying a User Interface for a Remote Control Application” (2010)

Various claims regarding user interfaces and (applying also to other controllers such as tablets and PCs), particularly related to favorite channels.

RELATED: UEI Sues URC for Infringing on Remote Control Patents



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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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