US ITC begins pilot to speed up disposal of patent cases

The trade agency has found that it can speed up by focusing on the dispositive issues

The U.S. International Trade Commission has launched a pilot program to test whether early rulings on identified crucial issues in some investigations could limit unnecessary litigation, saving time and costs for all sides.

One such "dispositive" issue, though not the only one, could be the existence of a domestic industry for a product, which often comes up later in the investigation.

Complainants should also be prepared to prove their case without extensive discovery on the issues, the ITC said Monday.

The move comes in the wake of concerns about unnecessary and sometimes frivolous patent disputes by "patent assertion entities," popularly known as patent trolls, whose main business is to collect licensing fees and damages from technology companies.

The administration of President Barack Obama issued earlier this month five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations designed "to protect innovators from frivolous litigation." Among the legislative recommendations was the need to change the ITC standard for obtaining an injunction.

Technology companies like Google's Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics have also approached the ITC to keep competitors' products out of the U.S. market.

Section 337 investigations conducted by the ITC under the Tariff Act of 1930 most often involve claims regarding intellectual property rights, including allegations of patent and trademark infringements by imported goods, and can lead to the ban on their imports into the U.S.

Noting that the majority of complaints filed under section 337 involve patent infringement allegations, the ITC said that under the pilot program, the commission "will identify, at institution, investigations that are likely to present a potentially dispositive issue."

An administrative law judge will be assigned to rule on that issue early in the investigation through expedited fact-finding and a shortened hearing limited to the identified issue.

The initial ruling on whether a domestic industry exists or is in the process of being established in the U.S. has typically come relatively late in an investigation, often after several months of litigation, including an evidentiary hearing, when the ALJ issues his initial determination on whether there is a violation of section 337. The pilot program aims to reduce the time for an initial ruling to 100 days, with a limited extension for good cause.

The pilot program is not limited to the issue of domestic industry, which was only provided as an example of how the pilot will work, ITC said. The pilot procedure may be made permanent after evaluation, and will currently be used for certain designated investigations, it added.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags legalintellectual propertypatentU.S. International Trade Commission

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?