Justia International Trade Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
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In 1993, the Department of Commerce determined that imports of certain lock washers from China were being sold at less than fair value and issued an antidumping duty order covering washers classifiable under subheading the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 7318.21.0000. In 2013, US&F, a U.S. importer of lock washers that meet the specifications of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, requested an official scope ruling, alleging that its washers were not covered by the Order. US&F explained that Customs was allowing it to continue making entry under HSTUS 7318.21.0090 in anticipation of the scope determination. Without initiating a scope inquiry, Commerce ruled that US&F’s washers are within the Order's scope and instructed Customs to suspend liquidation of “all unliquidated entries of merchandise made on or after the first day merchandise subject to the Order was suspended for antidumping purposes and collect cash deposits on all such entries.” Liquidation was suspended to October 1993, when the Order was issued and the first day Customs originally suspended liquidation of the subject merchandise. The Trade Court affirmed Commerce’s scope ruling but reversed Commerce’s retroactivity determination. On remand, Commerce issued new instructions to suspend liquidation on or after July 2013, when Commerce issued the final scope ruling regarding US&F’s washers. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supports Commerce’s scope ruling but Commerce exceeded its regulatory authority by ordering the retroactive suspension of liquidation back to 1993 View "United Steel & Fasteners, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Department of Commerce investigated (19 U.S.C. 1673−1673h) dumping of multilayered wood flooring from China and individually investigated the dumping margins of the three largest exporters. Commerce identified “separate-rate firms,” exporters and producers whose dumping margins were not individually investigated but that Commerce found to be independent of the Chinese government and concluded those firms should be assigned an antidumping-duty rate separate from the “China-wide rate” assigned to firms lacking such independence. Some separate-rate firms did not seek individual review, while voluntary-review firms requested review but were denied. Commerce issued an antidumping duty order but did not terminate the investigation, finding a non-de minimis positive dumping margin for the companies that were part of the China-wide entity. All three individually-investigated firms had zero dumping margins; Commerce freed those firms from further obligations. Commerce applied the zero rate to the separate-rate firms but did not free those firms from obligations accompanying the order. Although such firms’ merchandise initially would not be subject to cash deposits upon entry, the merchandise would remain subject to suspension of liquidation of entries, with the ultimate duty to be determined later; the firms would have to participate and the duty might increase, thereafter requiring cash deposits. The Trade Court and Federal Circuit affirmed the inclusion of the “no request” separate-rate firms in the order but held that Commerce had not justified the inclusion of the voluntary-review firms. Nothing in the statute unambiguously provides that all separate-rate firms, including those not individually investigated, must be excluded from all obligations under an antidumping duty order when they are assigned a zero rate based on zero or de minimis dumping margins of individually investigated firms. View "Changzhou Hawd Flooring Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Chamberlain's patent discloses improved “movable barrier operators,” such as garage door openers. The patent describes a need for “a passive infrared detector for controlling illumination from a garage door operator which could be quickly and easily retrofitted to existing garage door operators” and discloses as its invention “a passive infrared detector for a garage door operator,” contained in a wall control unit, along with an ambient light comparator and a microcontroller. The International Trade Commission determined, 19 U.S.C. 1337, that the Appellants’ importation of garage door opener products infringed the patent and entered limited exclusion orders and cease and desist orders. The Federal Circuit vacated the orders, concluding that the Commission erred in its construction of “wall console,” a term in each of the patent claims. Although claim terms are normally given their ordinary and customary meaning, as understood by persons of ordinary skill in the art in view of the specification and prosecution history, Chamberlain disavowed coverage of wall consoles without a passive infrared detector. The term is properly construed as a “wall-mounted control unit including a passive infrared detector.” The parties agree that the Appellants do not infringe the patent under that construction. View "Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Ericsson owns patents essential to practicing standards (SEPs) that enable mobile devices from different manufacturers and different networks to communicate with each other using the same communication protocol. Ericsson is a member of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the organization responsible for developing 2G, 3G, and 4G standards. ETSI’s acceptance of a member’s patent as "SEP" forms a contract between ETSI and its members. SEP owners wield significant power over implementers during licensing negotiations, so the ETSI contract imposes an obligation to license (FRAND obligation). Ericsson and TCL have been negotiating licensing terms for over a decade. There was litigation. The parties agreed to binding court adjudication of terms for a worldwide portfolio license. The district court imposed a prospective FRAND royalty rate for practicing each standard, and a “release payment” computed based on a closely related, retrospective FRAND rate for “TCL’s past unlicensed sales.” The court rejected both parties’ proposed methodologies and employed its own modified version of TCL’s proposed “top-down” approach in combination with comparable license evidence to compute both the prospective and retrospective FRAND rates. The Federal Circuit vacated in part. Ericsson had a Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial on the adjudication of the “release payment” term; the release payment is in substance compensatory relief for TCL’s past patent infringing activity. View "TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltc. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson" on Justia Law

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The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provides “duty-free treatment” for “eligible article[s] from . . . beneficiary developing countr[ies],” 19 U.S.C. 2461 (2012), including India. Congressional authorization for the GSP expired on July 31, 2013, and was not renewed until June 29, 2015. For GSP-eligible entries made during the lapse, Congress provided for “retroactive application” (a refund of duties paid), if the importer filed a request with Customs “not later than” December 28, 2015. Industrial made 65 entries of organic chemicals from India between August 2013 and October 2014. The entries were liquidated between June 2014 and September 2015. Industrial did not submit its request for retroactive GSP treatment until February 2, 2016. U.S. Customs and Border Protection denied the request. Industrial filed a Protest, which was denied as untimely under 19 U.S.C. 1514 because it had been filed more than 180 days after the liquidation of its entries. The Court of International Trade dismissed Industrial’s complaint. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Trade Court lacked jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(a) because the Protest was invalid. The court further noted that Customs did not have the discretion to exempt Industrial Chemicals from the deadline set by Congress. View "Industrial Chemicals, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2014, the Department of Commerce initiated an antidumping-duty investigation under 19 U.S.C. 1673–1673h into steel nail products from Oman and other countries. Commerce separated the Omani investigation into its own proceeding and designated OF a mandatory respondent. On Commerce’s initial questionnaire OF noted that its volume of sales in Oman, and in each third country that it operated in, was less than five percent of its U.S. sales and could not be the basis for the normal value calculation. Commerce determined that there was insufficient data to support the use of the preferred method, calculated a “constructed value” of the nails under the statute, and imposed an anti-dumping duty on OF. OF challenged: Commerce’s initial choice of method; Commerce’s selection of certain information as an input into the calculation required by the chosen method; and Commerce’s conclusion that it could not calculate a “cap” limiting the profit component of the constructed value. The Federal Circuit rejected OF’s challenge to the basic choice of method and the profit-cap ruling. The court partly rejected the challenge to Commerce’s information selection when applying the chosen method but remanded to secure further explanation about Commerce’s refusal to consider the effect of subsidies on whether the information it selected was accurate for the relevant statutory purpose. View "Mid Continent Steel & Wire, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Based on Mid Continent’s petition, the Department of Commerce initiated an antidumping duty investigation into steel nail products from Taiwan and certain other places. Commerce separated the Taiwanese investigation into its own proceeding and named Taiwanese exporter PT and its affiliated nail producer Pro-Team as mandatory respondents. Commerce found that the respondents were “dumping” goods, 19 U.S.C. 1673, and imposed a small antidumping duty on their imports. The Federal Circuit rejected Mid Continent’s argument that Commerce mistakenly rejected its argument that PT was affiliated with certain companies and should have imposed a higher duty. The court partially rejected PT’s argument that Commerce made methodological errors, the correction of which would reduce any dumping margin to a de minimis level so that no duty would be imposed, but remanded for further proceedings on Commerce’s choice of a simple averaging in calculating the pooled variance. View "Mid Continent Steel & Wire, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Guangdong is a foreign manufacturer of aerogel insulation products currently subject to a limited exclusion order entered by the U.S. International Trade Commission following an unfair competition investigation. The exclusion order is based in part on the Commission’s final determination that Alison’s products infringe Aspen’s 359 patent, 19 U.S.C. 1337. The Commission found that certain claims of the 359 patent are not indefinite based on their use of the term “lofty . . . batting” and that certain claims of the patent are not invalid on anticipation and obviousness grounds. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The written description of the 359 patent informs the meaning of “lofty . . . batting” with reasonable certainty and the Commission’s factual findings regarding anticipation are supported by substantial evidence View "Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech Co. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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The Department of Commerce conducted its ninth administrative review of an antidumping duty order on chlorinated isocyanurates from China, 19 U.S.C. 1677(18)(A), and assigned Kangtai, selected by Commerce as a mandatory respondent, a 0% antidumping duty margin. After a tenth review, Commerce assigned Kangtai, again a mandatory respondent, a 35.05% rate. Kangtai filed a complaint, asserting Commerce improperly instructed Customs to assess an anti-dumping duty margin on 18 of Kangtai’s subject merchandise entries at a rate higher than the zero percent rate calculated for Kangtai’s entries in the Review 9 Final Results. The Court of International Trade dismissed the complaint, concluding that it lacked jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(i). The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Trade Court’s residual jurisdiction may not be invoked when jurisdiction under another section 1581 subsection could have been available unless the remedy provided under that other subsection would be manifestly inadequate. Kangtai could have sought relief under section 1581(c) because the true nature of Kangtai’s action is a challenge to Commerce’s determination to assess antidumping duties on entries, rather than on sales, made during the relevant period of review. Kangtai did not demonstrate that relief under 1581(c) would have been manifestly inadequate. Not only could Kangtai have challenged Commerce’s decision to assess duties on entries in the Review 9 Results, Kangtai actually did file a complaint contesting the Review 10 Final Results. View "Juancheng Kangtai Chemical Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Anjinomoto’s 655 patent claims E. coli bacteria that have been genetically engineered to increase their production of aromatic L-amino acids, such as L-tryptophan, during fermentation, as well as methods of producing aromatic L-amino acids using such bacteria. Ajinomoto filed a complaint against CJ with the International Trade Commission, alleging that CJ was importing certain products that infringed the patent. CJ used several strains of E. coli to produce L-tryptophan products, which it then imported into the United States. The Commission determined that CJ’s earlier strains did not infringe but that CJ’s two later strains did, and that the relevant claim of the 655 patent is not invalid for lack of an adequate written description. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the Commission’s construction of “replacing the native promoter . . . with a more potent promoter.” The court rejected CJ’s claim of prosecution history estoppel and held that the 655 patent expressly provides four examples of “more potent promoters,” so that the Commission supportably found that a skilled artisan could make relatively predictable changes to the native promoter to arrive at a more potent promoter. View "Ajinomoto Co., Inc. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law