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Novel IPR Infringement Probe of Steel Products from China Resumed

Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The International Trade Commission has resumed an intellectual property infringement investigation that represents the domestic steel industry’s latest effort to use U.S. trade laws to stem what it sees as a flood of unfairly priced imports from China.

The ITC launched investigation 337-TA-1002 earlier this year to determine whether imports of carbon and alloy steel products from China are violating section 337 of the 1930 Tariff Act through (1) a conspiracy to fix prices and control output and export volumes, (2) the misappropriation and use of trade secrets owned by complainant U.S. Steel Corporation, and (3) the false designation of origin or manufacturer to circumvent tariffs. U.S. Steel has requested that after this investigation the ITC issue exclusion orders, which would prohibit infringing imports from entering the U.S., and cease and desist orders, which among other things would prevent the sale of infringing imported articles out of U.S. inventory.

The investigation was suspended by the presiding administrative law judge in July to allow the ITC to provide statutorily required notice to the Department of Commerce, given that the ITC investigation comes at least in part within the purview of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws overseen by DOC, and due to the pendency of proceedings before the DOC (at least two of which were subsequently identified by DOC). However, following a petition from U.S. Steel, the ITC has determined to vacate the suspension and remand the investigation back to the ALJ for further proceedings. No immediate rationale for the change was given but the ITC said an explanation will be forthcoming.

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