Patent Infringement Probe Opens Against Motive Technologies

US International Trade Commission Investigates Samsara Accusations
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(Motive Technologies via YouTube)

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The U.S. International Trade Commission is investigating patent infringement allegations made by Samsara Inc. that Motive Technologies Inc. has violated a provision of the Tariff Act of 1930 in marketing some of Samsara’s “vehicle telematics, fleet management video-based safety systems, devices and components.”

The investigation, opened March 12, is based on a complaint by San Francisco-based Samsara, filed Feb. 9 and supplemented Feb. 29. The complaint alleges violations of Section 337 of the Tariff Act in the importation into the United States and sale of some of Samsara’s patented technologies.

"We filed these lawsuits not only to protect Samsara's business and the innovative work of our employees but also to safeguard competition for the entire industry. As evidenced by the separate patent lawsuit independently filed by Omnitracs, Samsara is not alone in this effort," Samsara said in a statement.

"In the ITC, Samsara is seeking an exclusion order to prevent Motive's Vehicle Gateway and Dashcam products from being imported into the United States. We are also seeking a cease and desist order to prohibit Motive from selling, marketing, advertising or distributing these products," the statement also said.

Section 337 violations most often involve claims regarding intellectual property rights, including allegations of patent infringement and trademark infringement by imported goods, according to the commission. The primary remedy available in Section 337 investigations is an exclusion order that directs U.S. Customs to stop infringing imports from entering the United States. In addition, the commission may issue cease-and-desist orders against named importers and other persons engaged in unfair acts that violate Section 337.

Expedited relief in the form of temporary exclusion orders and temporary cease-and-desist orders also may be available in certain exceptional circumstances, the commission said. Samsara’s complainant requests that the Trade Commission issue a limited exclusion order and cease-and-desist orders.

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“By instituting this investigation, the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case,” the commission said in a recent news release. “The USITC’s chief administrative law judge will assign the case to one of the USITC’s administrative law judges, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The [judge] will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of Section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the commission.”

A hearing has tentatively been set for Nov. 14.

The legal commission filing follows Samsara’s lawsuit earlier this year filed against Motive in federal court that alleged infringement of a number of technology patents, as well as claims for false advertising, fraud, federal hacking laws and unfair competition.

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Omnitracs Inc. has filed a similar federal lawsuit against Motive detailing similar allegations.

Motive has denied the allegations in both of the lawsuits, as well as the commission filing.

However, in an earlier statement, Samsara said that Motive’s federal court countersuits are a “deliberate distraction, and we have every confidence in our defense.”

In a separate federal lawsuit, Motive denied the allegations, saying its own technology enables customers to visualize and analyze their physical operations in real time on a single integrated platform “in a way that was impossible or impractical only a few years ago.”

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Motive also is denying the allegations in the Trade Commission complaint, calling Samsara a company that attempts to compete with Motive for customers in the marketplace “but has done so using unethical, improper and unlawful tactics.”

“We have filed an answer and motion to terminate the Trade Commission investigation,” Lauren Whittemore, lead IP Counsel at Motive, told Transport Topics. “We feel we have strong arguments that we do not infringe, and that we believe the two companies should fight in the marketplace and not in court.

“The best scenario is that we are found not to infringe, or the patents are found invalid. The worst-case scenario is that one or more of our products could be excluded by U.S. Customs from importation. But we don’t anticipate it getting to that point.”