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ITC Reviewing Antitrust Issues in IPR Infringement Probe of Steel Products

Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

In investigation 337-TA-1002 of carbon and alloy steel products, the International Trade Commission is accepting further written submissions from the public through March 27, and has rescheduled the date for an oral argument to April 20, in connection with its review of the presiding administrative law judge’s initial determination terminating complainant U.S. Steel Corporation’s antitrust claim.

The ITC launched this investigation to determine whether subject imports 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 U.S. Steel, 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 steel products 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 notice of investigation identified 40 respondents that are Chinese steel manufacturers or distributors, as well as some of their Hong Kong and U.S. affiliates.

The ITC is requesting information from the public on several issues, including (a) the policies that underlie the applicable injury requirements, (b) what U.S. Steel must prove to satisfy that injury requirement where the alleged violation is based on a claim of conspiracy to fix prices, (c) how antitrust injury standing compares to or differs from the Section 337 injury requirement, and (d) whether antitrust injury standing should be required for establishing a violation based on a claim of conspiracy to fix prices.

U.S. Steel recently withdrew its trade secrets theft claim but said it would proceed with the other two claims even though the ITC has moved to dismiss them.

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