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New Front Opened in Battle Against Steel Imports

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Using what one industry official called “a new arrow in the quiver” to combat “China’s illegal and predatory acts targeting [the U.S.] steel sector,” United States Steel Corporation filed April 26 a petition requesting that the International Trade Commission institute a Section 337 investigation regarding carbon and alloy steel products. A USSC press release states that the petition targets the largest Chinese steel producers and their distributors for illegal conspiracy to fix prices, theft of trade secrets, and circumvention of tariffs by false labeling.

United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard said this “bold, but necessary” step follows China’s clear message at recent international meetings “that it has no intention of cooperating with other countries to help manage the problems caused by overcapacity in the steel sector.” USSC President Mario Longhi added that the Section 337 petition “continue[s] the work we have pursued through countervailing and antidumping cases and pushing for increased enforcement of existing laws.”

Section 337 investigations primarily involve claims regarding intellectual property rights violations by imported goods, including the infringement of patents, trademarks and copyrights. However, other forms of unfair competition involving imported products, such as misappropriation of trade secrets or trade dress and false advertising, may also be asserted.

The primary remedy available in Section 337 investigations is an exclusion order that directs U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop infringing imports from entering the U.S. In addition, the ITC may issue cease and desist orders against named importers and other persons engaged in unfair acts that violate Section 337, including selling infringing imported articles out of U.S. inventory.

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