Hytera America made available a firmware update that upgrades legacy products to the capabilities of the company’s new i-Series products. The firmware update was released in response to the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) decision to implement limited exclusion orders (LEO) and cease-and-desist orders (CDO) against Hytera Communications and its Hytera America
In November, the ITC released a final determination in the patent infringement lawsuit Motorola Solutions brought against Hytera and its subsidiaries. That determination affirmed an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) earlier finding that Hytera infringed multiple Motorola patents. As part of the final determination, the ITC put the LEO and CDO in place to prevent Hytera from importing, selling or distributing Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) products that infringe Motorola patents.
However, that final determination also reversed the ALJ’s earlier finding that redesigned products Hytera submitted — the new i-Series — infringed Motorola’s patents. Therefore, Hytera and its subsidiaries can import, sell and distribute those products in the U.S.
“We believe the final ruling is very positive to our customers and dealers because it takes them out of the shadow of this lawsuit and gives them a way forward,” said Steve Cragg, vice president of sales, Hytera America.
The firmware update that upgrades legacy radios to i-Series capabilities can be accessed through Hytera’s dealer portal where it makes all of its software updates available. There is no charge for the software update.
New capabilities for the i-Series include over-the-air programming (OTAP) and optimized push to talk (PTT), as well as new features that enhance coverage and channel efficiency, according to material provided by Hytera.
Once updated with the new firmware, the legacy radios will support most capabilities of the i-Series radios, Cragg said. The i-Series includes a mobile that supports full-duplex capabilities. Because that duplex operation is based on a new hardware platform, the firmware update does not provide that capability, and customers interested in that capability will need to purchase the new radio.
When the ITC requested public interest statements on the proposed sanctions prior to the final determination, Hytera and several dealers and customers asked for a repair exception that would allow Hytera to provide new components and radios for existing systems.
The ITC did not address that request in its final determination. Cragg said Hytera originally asked for that exception so it could provide clarity to its dealers and customers once the ITC released its final determination.
However, the exception is not necessary with the ITC’s approval of the i-Series because those products can slot into existing systems and keep the system functioning, Cragg said. “We’re confident that we can continue to fully service and support our customers with the i-Series.”
The i-Series products are compatible with legacy products, so a user does not need to update the system to swap in i-Series products, Cragg said. However, to use the i-Series’ new capabilities, the system’s firmware must be updated.
Interest in the i-Series has so far been strong, Cragg said. Webinars on the new product line the company held following the decision reached capacity, and additional webinars have continued to attract large numbers of attendees.
“We have more questions about the new features than on how to upgrade the radios, so I think it shows the market is generally interested,” Cragg said.
As part of the ITC’s process, the case is in a 60-day presidential review period where President Donald Trump, or a representative, can disapprove the ITC’s final determination. During that period, Hytera can continue to sell the infringing products if it posts a bond.
However, Hytera ceased sale of its legacy products following the final determination’s release and plans to sell only the new i-Series products moving forward, Cragg said.
Hytera released the i-Series products earlier this year around the rest of the world, but Hytera held off on releasing them in the U.S. while the ITC case was ongoing.
“We see no reason why we would continue to sell the legacy products when we have fully equivalent products with more and better features,” he said.
Hytera still has the option of appealing the ITC’s decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The company has not disclosed whether it plans to appeal, and Cragg declined to comment on potential next steps.