Section 337 of the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930 authorizes U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to exclude articles from entry into the U.S. when it has found unfair methods of competition or unfair acts in the importation of those articles, including trade secret misappropriation.
In TianRui Group Co. v. ITC, 661 F.3d 1322 (Fed. Cir., Oct. 11, 2011), Amsted Industries, an American manufacturer of cast steel railway wheels and trade secret holder, filed its complaint with the ITC, requesting a Section 337 investigation after TianRui Group, a Chinese manufacturer, imported wheels into the U.S. made in China using Amsted’s trade secrets.
The Federal Circuit Court held that the intended purpose of Section 337 is to protect domestic commerce from unfair methods of competition in importation, and import goods are thus subject to the statute even if the trade secret violation occurred in a foreign country. The Court noted, however, that it did not have jurisdiction to prohibit the sale of these wheels in China or elsewhere.
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