Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 prohibits unfair methods of competition or other unfair acts in the importation of products into the United States. It also prohibits the importation of articles that infringe valid U.S. patents, copyrights, processes, trademarks, semiconductor products produced by infringing a protected mask work, or protected design rights (collectively IPR). While the statute has been utilized to counter imports of products judged to be produced by unfair competition, monopolistic, or anti-competitive practices, it has become increasingly used for its IPR enforcement functions in recent years. Under the statute, the importation or sale of an infringing product is illegal only if a U.S. industry is producing an article covered by the relevant IPR exists or is in the process of being established. However, unlike other trade remedies such as antidumping or countervailing duty actions, no showing of injury due to the importation is required.
ITC Proceedings Edit
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) administers Section 337 proceedings. The ITC must investigate complaints either brought to it or ones commenced under its own initiative. An administrative law judge (ALJ) provides an initial determination (ID) to the ITC which can accept the ID or order a further review of it in whole or in part. If the ITC finds a violation, it may issue two types of remedies: exclusion orders or cease and desist orders.
The ITC may issue either a limited or general exclusion order enforced by Customs and Border Protection. A general exclusion order directs Customs and Border Protection to keep out all infringing articles regardless of the source. More commonly, a limited exclusion order is employed to exclude infringing articles from the firm subject to the ITC’s investigation. Alternatively, the ITC may enforce a cease and desist order to stop the sale of the infringing product in the United States. However, the ITC may consider several public interest criteria and decline to issue a remedy. Also, the President may disapprove a remedial order during a 60-day period for “policy reasons,” which has been interpreted to mean national security reasons.
- ↑ 19 U.S.C. §1337, as amended.