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IP: ITC foreign-based misappropriation of trade secrets actions

In re Certain Rubber Resins is a cautionary tale for companies manufacturing products overseas

Last fall, the Federal Circuit’s decision in TianRui Group Co. Ltd. v. ITC lit up the blogosphere. In TianRui, a case of first impression, the Federal Circuit held that Section 337 of the Tariff Act gives the International Trade Commission (ITC) the authority to restrict the importation of goods produced through the misappropriation of trade secrets, even if the acts of misappropriation occurred abroad. The rationale for this rests with the ITC’s statutory authority over “unfair methods of competition and unfair acts in the importation of articles…into the United States,” as provided by Section 337(a)(1)(A). Commentators opined that similar ITC actions were sure to follow.

The recent filing of an ITC complaint in In re Certain Rubber Resins has made those predictions come true. The Rubber Resins complaint tells a captivating story of international intrigue and corporate woe and serves as a cautionary tale for companies in the increasingly competitive global marketplace, particularly those manufacturing products in newly industrialized or developing countries.  

According to the ITC complaint, the testing and investigation showed that the two companies’ products were virtually identical. The testing facilities report concluded that the similarities between the products and the manufacturing process and equipment used at Sino Legend simply could not result from independent development given the limited amount of time it took for Sino Legend to come to market.

Despite these findings, the PSB terminated its investigation and encouraged SI Group to drop its claims as well.

Contributing Author

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Bryan J. Vogel

Bryan J. Vogel is a trial lawyer and partner with the firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. He is a registered patent attorney with...

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