IP: Determining if the ITC is right for your patent enforcement efforts

ITC investigations are at an all-time high, but not every matter is eligible

The International Trade Commission (ITC) is as popular a forum as ever for patent infringement disputes in the U.S. In 2011, 70 investigations were instituted in the ITC under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. That number compares to 51 investigations instituted in 2010, and is the highest number of investigations ever instituted by the ITC in a single year. Part one of this series explains why the ITC has become an increasingly popular forum and addresses two basic technical requirements that must be met to institute an action there. 

So what’s the draw?

As for speed, some of the district courts that have been considered “rocket dockets” for patent litigation in the past have slowed over time due to court congestion. For example, while the Eastern District of Texas once boasted time-to-trial averages of 12 to 14 months, it now takes more than two years on average to get to trial in that court. In the ITC, on the other hand, the time to resolution is decreasing. In 2011, the average time to decision was 13.7 months, compared to 18.4 months in 2010 and 17.9 months in 2009. And the ITC is taking measures to accommodate the increasing caseload, hiring more attorneys to work on Section 337 investigations, replacing retired administrative law judges and allocating funds for a third courtroom to handle hearings. 

Does your matter qualify for an ITC investigation?

Contributing Author

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Marla Butler

Marla Butler is a trial lawyer and partner with the firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. She helps clients in the medical, semiconductor, LCD,...

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