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Archived updates for Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ford Requests Investigation of Auto Parts from Taiwan

On December 2, 2005, Ford Global Technologies filed a "Section 337" unfair import complaint at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The complaint requests that an unfair import investigation be instituted involving "Certain Automotive Parts."

The proposed respondents are Keystone Automotive Industries, Inc., (CA); U.S. Autoparts Network, Inc., (CA); Gordon Auto Body Parts Co., Ltd. (Taiwan); Y.C.C. Parts Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (Taiwan); Depo Auto Parts Ind. Co., Ltd., (Taiwan); TYC Brother Industrial Co., Ltd. (Taiwan); and Kool-Vue Corporation (CA). Epistar Corporation (Taiwan) and United Epitaxy Company (Taiwan).

The complaint has been designated as confidential and assigned Docket No. 337-2457 for indexing in the Commission's database. However, such complaints typically include an allegation of intellectual property infringement and a request that the infringing godds be excluded from entry into the United States.

The Commission now has 30-35 days from the filing date of the complaints in which to decide whether to institute the investigation. Upon institution, the proposed respondent will be served with the Complaint via postal mail and an Administrative Law Judge will schedule discovery, conduct a trial, and issue a written "Initial Determination," usually within about 10 months. Due to the expedited nature of these proceedings, and availability of general exclusion orders affecting non-parties, it is important to notify any potential importers of similar products as soon as possible.

Click here for more information on the importance of monitoring these ITC investigations, and click here for an audio-visual Internet presentation on "Unfair Import Investigations at the U.S. International Trade Commission."For the latest details on a particular Section 337 investigation, or to arrange an in-person presentation on these (and/or other) intellectual property topics, contact me, Bill Heinze (Bill.Heinze@tkhr.com), at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley in Atlanta, Georgia.
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5 Comments:

Anonymous chevrolet auto parts said...

This is the second patent claim that Ford has made against Keystone. Ford filed a similar complaint with the ITC in April 2005, claiming violation of its design patent for the Expedition grille. The complaint was later withdrawn. According to Keystone, the company was able to show that the design had been published prior to Ford's patent application.

Should Ford prevail, the case would have a significant impact on the aftermarket parts market, and not just in the automotive industry. Federal courts have been wrangling with aftermarket anti-trust and patent cases for several years, sometimes with contradictory results. Most recently, printer manufacturer Lexmark invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an attempt to prevent manufacture of off-brand printer cartridges.

The ITC has referred the Ford case to an administrative law judge, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing later this year. The judge will make an initial determination as to whether there has been a violation. An opinion is expected by the end of the year.

According to the ITC, the Commission will set a target completion date within 45 days after instituting the investigation. ITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued, and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period. These ruling could then be appealed in U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

August 19, 2008 11:05 PM  
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