Roku plays down impact of US import ban

Roku faces an import ban on some products in the US after the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the streaming giant had infringed patents filed by Universal Electronics.

The ITC has banned the import of certain Roku devices including streaming players, TVs, set-top boxes, remote controllers and components that were found to infringe Universal Electronics’ patents.

Roku has said that the ruling, which remains subject to presidential review before it comes into force in January, will not have an impact on its ability to sell its products in the US. It said that the ITC verdict confirmed an earlier court ruling that two out the three patents asserted by United Electronics are invalid and that Roku had implemented design changes that remove any infringement of the one remaining patent.

Joe Hollinger, VP of litigation and intellectual property, said that “Roku has already successfully implemented technical design changes that eliminate any infringement of the one remaining UEI patent” and added that, “based on the ITC’s ruling, we do not anticipate any disruption in Roku’s ability to continue to import products”.

However, Universal Electronics’ general counsel Richard Firehammer said that Roku’s need to certify that products it was importing were non-infringing would present an unsustainable burden for the streaming outfit.

“Importantly, the Commission made clear that Roku would need to certify to Customs, at Customs’ discretion, that the products Roku wants to import are not infringing and therefore not excluded from entry. We do not believe Roku can meet this burden, and beginning January 9, 2022, any of Roku’s infringing products will be subject to exclusion from importation,” he said.

Firehammer said that Roku was continuing to infringe the relevant patent “despite its attempts to ‘design around’ its infringement with recent software updates”.

Read Next