Public-Safety Agencies, Dealers Ask for Repair Exception to Proposed Hytera Sanctions
Tuesday, October 02, 2018 | Comments
Four public-safety agencies filed a joint public interest statement supporting Hytera Communications in the patent infringement lawsuit Motorola Solutions filed against Hytera with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

“We urge the commission to consider the heavy public interest that is at stake — including the potential for harm to the public health, welfare and safety of our communities — as the commission exercises its public mandate under Section 1337,” the filing said.

Washington County (Missouri) Central Dispatch/911, Ludlow (Massachusetts) Police Department, Weston (Connecticut) Police Department and Knox County (Maine) Regional Communications Center all signed the filing.

Additionally, 18 dealers, seven of which had previously filed public interest statements supporting Hytera, filed a joint public interest statement in support of Hytera.

Both joint statements specifically asked for a repair exception to proposed sanctions against Hytera.

In July, Administrative Law Judge Mary Joan McNamara issued an initial determination in which she ruled that Hytera infringed four Motorola patents related to Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) products. McNamara recommended that the commission institute a limited exclusion order (LEO) and a cease-and-desist order (CDO) against Hytera that would prevent it from importing, selling and distributing products that infringe the Motorola patents.

In September, the ITC initiated a review of McNamara’s initial determination. If it finds the facts support it, the ITC can issue a different determination in the case. The commission expects to conclude that review by Nov. 16.

The public-safety and dealer filings argued that Hytera and its dealers should be allowed to repair existing Hytera systems even if the commission implements the LEO and CDO orders.

“We continue to turn to Hytera and its dealers for product and services support for our two-way radio requirements,” the public-safety filing said. “This includes service, repair and replacement of our existing radios and related systems and also for the purchase of additional equipment as our needs expand. The public will be harmed if our ability to continue sourcing repair services, replacement parts or new radios from Hytera is reduced.”

In addition to an exception allowing repairs, the public-safety agencies and dealers asked for an exception that would allow Hytera and its dealers to provide replacement radios to customers that purchased Hytera systems prior to the implementation of the proposed sanctions. The public-safety filing said there are many reasons why such an exception is necessary.

“It is a given that radios get lost, damaged and destroyed in the course of serving the public,” the public-safety filing said. “We may bring on new staff that need radios to perform their duties, which would require us to purchase additional compatible radios. So, it is essential to be able to have complete discretion to purchase additional Hytera radios based on our requirement, whether for replacement or when we need to expand our equipment inventory.”

In her initial determination, McNamara said that Motorola and other DMR manufacturers would likely be able to repair those existing systems but did not make an explicit recommendation, saying that the ITC likely needed more information.

In its own public interest filing, Motorola urged the commission not to add a repair exception to any sanctions it may impose against Hytera, arguing that it and other companies in the market could fill the void.

“… There is no question that other suppliers of DMR two-way radios will be able to provide Hytera’s customers with similar products; indeed, there is no question that Motorola alone can meet any excess demand created by an LEO and CDO against the accused products,” Motorola’s filing said. “Motorola has the resources and supply-chain capability to scale production to meet any increased demand from the exclusion of the infringing products.”

The dealers disagreed with Motorola’s and the judge’s assessment, pointing to interoperability as a key issue.

“This harm assumes, moreover, that the customer has flexibility in purchasing Motorola products,” the dealers filing said. “That is not the case for customers with installed Hytera systems due to the fact that Motorola has designed its DMR products to limit interoperability.”

The dealers argued that Motorola has no interest in repairing existing Hytera systems.

“Motorola’s interest has always been clear — it wants to sell Motorola systems,” the dealer filing said. “Motorola in our collective experience has never provided service, maintenance or replacement parts for other manufacturers’ LMR systems; nor do other manufacturers.”

The public-safety agencies said that they would not have the funds to completely replace existing systems.

“We do not have the option of starting over or adding products from other vendors that do not interoperate with our existing system,” the public-safety filing said. “ We want to be able to turn to our Hytera dealer for uninterrupted repair and maintenance services.”

In its public interest statement, Hytera argued that preventing existing customers from replacing or adding more radios to a system could greatly impact those customers’ ability to effectively use their systems.

“Hytera two-way radios are elements in a communication network,” Hytera’s filing said. “If one of those radios ceases to work and it cannot be repaired, Hytera’s customers’ ability to use its network shrinks commensurately. Because of interoperability issues, one of Hytera’s radios could not be replaced with a radio from a different supplier, but the customer should have the option of continuing to take full advantage of its existing system.”

The dealers and public-safety agencies also argued that Hytera radios provide innovative features that greatly help their public-safety mission and are not available in DMR radios from other manufacturers. The public-safety filing pointed to the integration of GPS coordinates with the lone-man feature as one such example.

“There is no cost-effective or competitively priced replacement,” the dealer filing said. “If Hytera LMR products were subject to Motorola’s requested remedy, our public-safety customers and the broader market of consumers would be harmed by having no supplier with this same range of features offered by Hytera at affordable prices, and they would be forced to do without or pay significantly more.”

Motorola disagreed with the dealers’ argument that Hytera radios offer innovative features that cannot be found in any other radios. For example, a similar integration of GPS coordinates and the man-down function is available in Motorola MOTOTRBO radios, and JVCKENWOOD offers a similar function in its radios, Motorola’s filing said.

Motorola urged the commission to adopt the proposed sanctions, arguing that the sanctions would not affect public health and safety because other options are available on the market.

“There is no need to allow Hytera to continue to import and sell products that infringe Motorola’s patents based on public health and welfare considerations, including not least of which because there is no evidence these products are used for public health and welfare and because acceptable substitutes having the same feature set are readily available from Motorola and others,” the filing said.

The dealers that signed the dealer filing were Warner Communications, Nielson Communications, Baker’s Communications, Eagle Communications, EdgeTech, MicroMagic, Marcus Communications, Industrial Communications, All Points Wireless, Talk the Rockies, Alpha Prime Communications, Shaffer Communications, Professional Wireless Communications, Rassbach Communications, KC Wireless, Spectrum Communications, Dittronics and Voceon Chicago.

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Comments
On 10/8/18, Greg said:
I have no agenda here other than to fix fake news here and above. From experience with basic Tier 2 over-the-air features on Motorola Solutions subscribers on Hytera infrastructure and the reverse, voice PTT-ID, group call, private call, and all call are compatible. Some of the basic encryption and AES are compatible. If you try going beyond this, you must stay with the same manufacturer. This is what ETSI intended. Basically it is similar to P25 in all these respects. If you want greater compatibility, stay with analog.

Both companies have features that are not compatible with each other. That was also ETSI's intent.

Hytera may have greater innovation than Motorola on some features and offers a greater breath of unique products and may support a greater number of ETSI's DMR standards. Yet Motorola has more than 80 percent of the domestic U.S. market.

Hytera should not have taken Motorola's IP but Hytera dealers should not suffer either. Can Hytera remove the offending features and continue to support their dealers' existing customers?

On 10/3/18, Leon van der Linde said:
We disagree completely with Motorola. The Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) protocol does not comply with interoperability. We have found that out the hard way. The only compatibility is speech. Motorola talks about GPS and man down. Sorry to disappoint them but we found that there is no compatibility. Each manufacturer has its own protocols. Kenwood tried to have some compatibility but there are so many little kingdoms in the DMR world that it is a minefield. Regretfully, Hytera radios are a brand on its own, and only Hytera can work with Hytera.
Motorola with MOTOTRBO pushed themselves completely out of the DMR market as MOTOTRBO is a completely different, separate protocol. The only relation to DMR seems to be TDMA.
As I mentioned, we found it out the hard way.

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