Intellectual Property > ITC Section 337 Investigations

Section 337 investigations at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) involve high stakes for both patent holders and parties accused of importing accused products into the United States, as well as their business partners. Primarily known as a forum for patent infringement claims, the ITC is becoming increasingly popular for addressing disputes relating to trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and unfair competition.  

ITC investigations present significant challenges to the parties in the case. The remedies available at the ITC are powerful, as the ITC can order U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) to exclude infringing articles—and possibly downstream products—from entering the United States, which can extend to an entire supply chain of a respondent. The ITC can also issue cease-and-desist orders affecting infringing articles already imported into the United States. As such, an adverse outcome in the ITC can have serious and immediate consequences.

In view of the global reach, rapid pace, and unique cross-disciplinary aspects of ITC investigations, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP provides superior trial and technical talent, as well as familiarity with the ITC staff, administrative law judges, and procedures, to deliver effective and comprehensive guidance for investigations at ITC. Our ITC practice, centered in Washington D.C., combines the trial skills and technical knowledge of our intellectual property litigators; the regulatory knowledge and experience of attorneys in our international trade practice; and the insight of our government relations practitioners for relevant political issues. Accordingly, our firm provides full service for all aspects of a Section 337 investigation at the ITC, including the initiation of an investigation through and after the trial, the review of ITC orders by the office of the United States Trade Representative, enforcement proceedings before Customs, and appeals before the Federal Circuit. 

We are experienced in the fundamental issues that are unique to the ITC, including extensive knowledge of the distinct procedures of ITC trials. Discovery in Section 337 investigations typically concludes less than six months after the complaint is filed and the case is typically at trial in less than 10 months, which is faster than almost any other forum in the world.  A trial is held in nearly half of all ITC investigations; by comparison, less than five percent of patent cases filed in federal district courts go to trial. We are also intimately familiar with the ITC’s domestic industry, importation, and remedy requirements; the 100-day Pilot Program for the early resolution of potentially dispositive issues; as well as the ITC’s Rules of Practice and Procedure and decisions of the ITC and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In addition, our team regularly works with Customs and the ITC to properly implement and/or enforce remedial orders.

Our ITC attorneys possess advanced scientific and technical educational backgrounds and professional experience with a wide range of technologies, including semiconductors, electronics, consumer products, televisions, mobile devices, software, wireless and optics technology, smart cards, encryption, satellite controls and digital signal processing, integrated circuits, medical devices, pharmaceutical products, and complex biological and chemical inventions. Combined with the strengths of our broader ITC practice, we possess the technical depth necessary for the most challenging ITC investigations.

Our team’s collective experience is critical in litigating at the ITC, and our attorneys have assisted both domestic and foreign companies in more than twenty ITC investigations in the last few years. Our comprehensive and holistic understanding of the real-world enforcement of ITC remedies provides increased efficiency in obtaining commercially significant outcomes at the border. The members of our ITC practice work closely with our clients to develop and execute legal strategies for Section 337 proceedings that maximize the likelihood of achieving our clients’ desired results, while minimizing disruption to their business.