Just when it looked like the long-running patent dispute was tipping Vizio's way, the U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled in favor of Funai, issuing an order to block imports of Vizio HDTVs. According to Bloomberg the ban is still eligible to be reviewed by President Obama while the patent case itself is still being reviewed by an appeals court, but if Vizio wants to keep its shipments flowing it will have to post a bond of $2.50 per television. We've put a call in to Vizio to find out what this means for its immediate future -- and that sweet LED backlit display from CES -- and confirmed that while this order goes into effect immediately, you should still be able to find sets on shelves and they will continue to do business as usual during the presidential review period, but feel free to read its press release in response after the break for more details.
Vizio's response:

VIZIO Continues to Import & Ship HDTV's During ITC Review

Irvine, CA – April 10, 2009 -- VIZIO, Inc., America's HDTV and Consumer Electronics Company, responds today on the limited exclusion order by the ITC that they hold to their belief that because of recent rulings by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO), that their appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will reverse the underlying decision. Per the Commission's determination, VIZIO has the right to continue importing and shipping products during a Presidential review period and will continue to pursue all legal remedies.

"Based on the recent final rejections by the USPTO of both the '369 and '074 Funai patents, we believe that the U.S. Court of Appeals will be mindful of the fact and will agree that there are substantial grounds for appeal of the ITC's ruling," stated Rob L. Brinkman, VIZIO's VP Operations and Administration.

"VIZIO intends to move and is moving aggressively on all possible avenues to protect its rights. Funai's failure to license its patents on reasonable and non-discriminatory basis is the subject of a lawsuit in federal district court in California as well as a complaint filed with the FCC, stated Laynie Newsome, VIZIO Co-Founder, VP Sales & Marketing Communications. "Even though the ITC has issued this limited exclusion order we believe that our appeal to the Federal Circuit will overturn the ruling with knowledge that the USPTO issued a second and final rejection of Funai's '074 patent just as they had done earlier with their '369 patent. While we appeal the ITC ruling with the Federal Circuit's U.S. Court of Appeals, we will continue to offer American's the best performance TVs at the best values. Even though we are committed to our policy to respect the rights of intellectual property holders, we will continue to thoroughly investigate all claims, and vigorously defend our legal rights when we feel a claim is invalid or not infringed."

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Funai wins order blocking Vizio imports, Vizio maintains business as usual