We have previously posted on proposed federal and state legislation aimed at addressing the toll of “patent troll” litigation by non-practicing entities (“NPEs”) on the U.S. economy. Additionally, a recent Federal Circuit ruling relaxing the standard for finding “an exceptional case” to justify attorneys’ fees in patent infringement actions also appears to have been motivated by need to address NPE litigation. Now the United States trade commissions want to enter the fray. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), through its recent decision In the matter of Certain Optical Disc Drives, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same, limited the ability of licensing entities, whose patent-related activities are purely revenue driven, to bring actions under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(3). Additionally, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently been given approval to conduct a study on NPEs to examine how they operate and to what extent they affect competition and innovation.
Yesterday’s Federal Register included a public notice indicating the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (“ITC”) intention to solicit input from complainants who obtained exclusion orders from the ITC following proceedings under 19 U.S.C. § 1337 (“Section 337”). Section 337 addresses unfair practices in the import trade, and especially, for enforcing U.S. intellectual property rights at the border. An exclusion order may be “limited” or “general,” and it prevents articles found to be infringing from being imported into the U.S.
ITC Finds That a “Pattern of Circumvention” is not Required Under Section 337(d)(2) to Obtain a General Exclusion Order
The International Trade Commission (the “ITC”) recently issued its opinion in Certain Lighting Control Devices Including Dimmer Switches and Parts Thereof (IV), Inv. No. 337-TA-776. The ITC opinion addressed whether the complainant had established the facts necessary for a finding of circumvention of a Limited Exclusion Order to justify the issuance of a General Exclusion Order. The ITC ultimately issued the General Exclusion Order sought by the complainant, disagreeing with the findings of the Administrative Law Judge and the recommendation of the Commission Investigative Staff.
Update: GPX Intl. Tire Corp. v. U.S.: Federal Circuit Grants Rehearing and Remands to the Trade Court
On December 19, 2011, in GPX Intl. Tire Corp. v. U.S., the Federal Circuit affirmed the International Court of Trade’s ruling that countervailing duty law does not apply to a non-market economy (“NME”) country, such as China. We previously summarized the Federal Circuit’s ruling. Recently, the United States and Titan Tire Corporation petitioned for a rehearing of the Federal Circuit’s decision. While the petition was pending, Congress passed legislation to apply countervailing duty law to NME countries. The new legislation applies retroactively and applies to this case. Congress’ intent plainly was to overrule the Court’s previous decision. Further, the new legislation contains a provision regarding an adjustment of antidumping duties on imported goods. This so-called “double counting” provision does not apply to the rehearing proceeding. Although the scope of the new legislation is clear, the appellees argue that it is unconstitutional. As a result, the Federal Circuit ordered that the Trial Court should decide this issue.
On April 26, the Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology, Seton Hall University School of Law, and the New Jersey Intellectual Property Law Association will present, “Patent Litigation at the ITC: Views from the Government, In-House Attorneys and Outside Counsel.” Throughout the afternoon, two panels comprised of various government officials and in-house counsel will come together to share their views on patent litigation and how it is approached in their specific practice areas.
Last week in GPX Intl. Tire Corp. v. U.S., the Federal Circuit decided whether both antidumping and countervailing duties may be imposed on a non-market economy (“NME”) country like China. The Federal Circuit affirmed the International Court of Trade’s (“ITC”) ruling that countervailing duty law does not apply to an NME country, but for different reasons than the ITC. Earlier, the ITC had reasoned that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (“Commerce”) 2007 interpretation of the law was “unreasonable” because of the high probability of “double counting.” Alternatively, the Federal Circuit came to its decision by looking at the statute’s Congressional intent. Specifically, when Congress amended and reenacted countervailing duty law in 1988 and 1994, the Federal Circuit concluded that government payments could not be characterized as “subsidies” in an NME context. Therefore, countervailing duty law does not apply to NME countries.
The Federal Circuit’s Myriad Genetics decision, Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 99 U.S.P.Q. 2d 1938 (Fed. Cir. 2011), which invalidated most of the method claims in the patents at issue, brings to mind a concern about the value of method claims, particularly to the pharmaceutical industry. The Myriad Genetics patents at issue included two types of method claims relating to human genetics: one involved determining whether a female patient had abnormal BRCA1/2 genes by comparison of BRCA1/2 gene and BRCA 1/2 RNA from the patient’s tumor sample to those from a non-tumor sample; the second was an activity screening method for anticancer drugs that compared the growth of a host cell transformed with a cancer-causing BRCA gene in the presence and absence, respectively, of the test compound.
Litigation Expenses Alone Insufficient to Satisfy “Domestic Industry” Requirement Says ITC and Federal Circuit Affirms
Earlier this week the Federal Circuit affirmed an International Trade Commission (“ITC”) decision by refusing to find a patent owner complainant’s litigation expenses satisfied the “domestic industry” requirement of 19 U.S.C § 337. The Court’s decision in John Mezzalingua Assocs. (d/b/a PPC, Inc.) v. International Trade Comm’n, 2010-1536 (Fed. Cir. October 4, 2011) is a blow to ITC complainants, in particular, non-practicing entities intent on relying solely on patent litigation expenses to establish the domestic industry requirement of § 337.