International Trade Commission (ITC)

On February 10, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued a final determination finding South Korean lithium-ion electric vehicle battery maker SK Innovation misappropriated the trade secrets of its Korean competitor LG Chem in violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.  The ITC issued a 10-year exclusion order blocking SK’s imports into the U.S. of lithium-ion batteries and related products, but with substantial exceptions: SK is permitted to continue importing these products specifically for Ford Motor Co.’s EV F-150 program for four years, for Volkswagen of America’s modular electric drive line for two years, and for the repair and replacement of EV batteries for Kia vehicles sold to U.S. customers.  President Biden and his U.S. Trade Representative—Katherine Tai has been nominated but not yet confirmed—now have 60 days to review the ITC’s electric vehicle battery exclusion order, an order that could be seen as in tension with the new administration’s promotion of green energy.

Continue Reading ITC Finds Trade Secret Misappropriation and Bars Electric Vehicle Batteries from SK Innovation—With Exceptions

2020 saw a marked uptick in unfair import investigations at the International Trade Commission (ITC), with an especially strong close to the year: eight new complaints in December alone brought the year’s total to 62 new complaints to the Commission, well above the ten-year average of 49. Complaints alleging trade secret misappropriation rose particularly, as the ITC becomes increasingly popular due to its speed, jurisdiction and unique remedies.  While just five investigations solely of trade secrets were instituted in the five years of 2011-2015, fifteen such investigations were instituted in the next five years of 2016-2020, including five in 2020 alone.[1]

Continue Reading Unfair Import Investigations Rise at the U.S. ITC in 2020—Particularly as to Trade Secrets

On January 13, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued the long-awaited public version of its final opinion in the Matter of Botulinum Products (Inv. No. 337-TA-1145), otherwise known as the “Botox case.” As previewed in the ITC’s earlier notice of decision, the ITC’s final opinion affirmed the Administrative Law Judge’s issuance of a 21-month ban on imports and sale of Respondents’ lower-cost alternative to Botox for misappropriation of trade secret manufacturing processes and reversed the finding that Complainant Medytox’s specific strain of botulinum toxin bacteria is a protectable trade secret.

As we previously reported, South Korean company Daewoong Pharmaceutical and its U.S.-based licensee Evolus had been facing a potential 10-year ban of the import and sale of its product, Juveau; however, because the ITC reversed the ALJ’s finding and instead held that the bacterial strain at issue was not a protectable trade secret, the Respondents could not be liable for trade secret misappropriation of the bacterial strain itself. The ITC thus reduced the length of the ban from 10 years to 21 months, accounting for the ITC’s finding that Respondents were liable for theft of trade secrets related to Medytox’s manufacturing process.


Continue Reading Final ITC Ruling in Botox Rival Case Creates More Head-Lines

As the year comes to a close, it’s safe to say 2020 was a year unlike any other and full of lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to the growing threat to U.S. intellectual property abroad.

A look back on the 10 most read posts from this past year highlights some key developments

On December 16, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) affirmed in part and reversed in part Administrative Law Judge David P. Shaw’s final initial determination from July against a South Korean manufacturer of an anti-wrinkle beauty treatment made from the botulinum toxin bacteria called Jeuveau. The ITC affirmed the ALJ’s findings with respect to the manufacturing process trade secrets but overturned the ALJ’s finding that Complainants Medytox and Allergan had any protectable interest in the bacterial strain itself. As a result, the ITC rejected the ALJ’s recommendation that a 10-year ban be imposed and concluded that Respondents Daewoong and Evolus should be barred from importing Jeuveau for 21 months instead. The ITC’s decision also issued a cease and desist order to prevent Evolus from selling any products previously imported unless it posts a bond equal to $441 for each 100-unit vial of Jeuveau. A full opinion on the ITC’s decision will be available roughly two weeks from now.

Continue Reading ITC Decision Adds New Wrinkle to Ban of Botox Competitor in Trade Secret Misappropriation Case

On August 6, 2020, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) released a public version of the Final Initial Determination (“ID”) in the Matter of Botulinum Toxin Products (Inv. No. 337-TA-1145), that, if upheld by the ITC Commission, might signal an expansive view of the ITC’s territorial jurisdiction and the scope of trade secret protection. The ITC’s jurisdiction in trade secret investigations is limited to matters that destroy or substantially injure a “domestic industry in the United States.” An interesting aspect of the ID is that it recommends banning importation of a Botox-competitor product (Jeuveau®) that was found to incorporate misappropriated trade secrets of a foreign Complainant whose domestic licensee and Co-Complainant have yet to make any sales of that product in the United States. The ID also found “domestic injury” based on the licensee’s industry, not the licensed trade secret’s industry. The Commission will issue a final decision in November.
Continue Reading ITC Administrative Law Judge Decision Implicates Scope of Trade Secret Protections

The Federal Circuit has recently confirmed that the International Trade Commission has jurisdiction over trade secret misappropriation, even if the predicate acts of misappropriation occur entirely outside of the United States. The decision, TianRui Group Co. v. International Trade Commission, 661F.3d 1322 (Fed. Cir. 2011), suggests that the ITC can play a very important