The U.S. International Trade Commission has initiated a pilot program to test whether early rulings on certain dispositive issues in some section 337 investigations could limit unnecessary litigation, saving time and cost for all parties involved.
Section 337 investigations involve allegations of unfair practices in import trade. The majority of complaints filed under this statute relate to patent infringement allegations, but may also allege infringement of trademarks, copyrights, mask works, and other forms of intellectual property, theft of trade secrets, and other unfair acts, ITC explained.
Under the pilot program, the commission will identify investigations that are likely to present a potentially dispositive issue and direct the assigned Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to rule on that issue early in the investigation through expedited fact-finding and an abbreviated hearing limited to the identified issue.
“The pilot program is part of the commission's ongoing efforts to improve its section 337 investigation procedures for providing fair and speedy adjudication of complex intellectual property disputes and effective relief against unfairly traded imports, while reducing costs for all participating parties,” ITC said.
The commission does not expect any delays in other investigations assigned to the presiding ALJ.
More details about the pilot program may be found here