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.
As we have previously reported, the Commission recently heard its first Section 337 oral argument in nearly ten years. Hot on the heels of that proceeding, the ITC has again granted an oral argument in a Section 337 investigation. This time they have asked for argument on an antitrust claim that was terminated by the presiding ALJ.
2016 was a banner year for Section 337 proceedings at the ITC. Sixty new Section 337 related complaints were filed at the ITC—a 50% increase over the previous year. 2016’s tally exceeds the number of complaints in each of the previous four years (2012-2015), and only lags behind the 2011 numbers—the height of the so-called ‘smartphone wars.’
ALJ Lord issued an Order Granting a Motion to Strike Affirmative Defense of unclean hands and inequitable conduct. Certain Krill Oil Products and Krill Meat for Production of Krill Oil Products, Order No. 8 (Feb. 7, 2017). Applying a heightened pleading standard for an inequitable conduct defense, ALJ Lord held that this affirmative defense did not satisfy the requirements of particularity articulated by the Federal Circuit in Exergen.