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 Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags U.S. International Trade Commissionintellectual propertypatentlegal

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

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?