The ITC has dealt a significant blow to the use of Inter Partes Review as a defense to a Section 337 investigation. In an order issued this week, the Commission denied a request to stay remedial orders that are currently on appeal after the asserted claims were found unpatentable by the USPTO Patent Trial and Appeal Board in IPR proceedings.
Last week, Judge Essex issued a notice updating his ground rules in active investigations pending before him.
Before 2011, the ITC routinely found violations of Section 337 based on the infringement of method claims through a respondent’s own use of an article post-importation. This changed when the ITC issued its Opinion in Certain Electronic Devices with Image Processing Systems, Components Thereof and Associated, Inv. No. 337-TA-724 (“Electronic Devices”). In that case the ITC held that post-importation direct infringement of a method claim, without a showing of indirect infringement, could not substantiate a violation of Section 337. But the ITC has recently indicated that it is rethinking its Electronics Devices precedent.
Increasing use of Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs) by patent stakeholders and an increase in the number of ITC complaints heighten the importance of an interplay between IPRs and ITC proceedings. We have previously noted that the ITC does not stay their proceedings in view of IPR institution. Recent decisions by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) bring to light another distinguishing feature of taking a patent dispute to the ITC – it will not start a one-year clock to file an IPR request.
As previously reported, the Commission recently granted U.S. Steel’s request for an oral hearing in Certain Carbon and Alloy Steel, Inv. No. 337-TA-1002. This was only the second oral argument granted in a Section 337 case in nearly ten years. In a Notice issued March 3, 2017, the Commission rescheduled the date for oral arguments to April 20, 2017 in order to seek further written submissions from the public.
Judge McNamara has issued the public version of her Initial Determination pursuant to the 100-day Pilot Program proceeding on domestic industry in Certain Silicon-On-Insulator Wafers, Inv. No. 337-TA-1025. Judge McNamara held that Complainant Silicon Genesis Corp. has contingently established the economic prong of domestic industry based solely on its licensee’s domestic activities.