Articles Posted in Commercial Law

by
Organik and Dow both manufacture opaque polymers, hollow spheres used as additives to increase paint’s opacity. Dow has maintained its worldwide market-leader position through a combination of patent and trade-secret protections. Dow filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission requesting an investigation into whether Organik’s opaque polymer products infringed four Dow patents. The Commission granted Dow’s request, and the parties began discovery. During the proceedings, Dow amended its complaint to add allegations of trade secret misappropriation when it discovered that Organik may have coordinated the production of its opaque polymers with the assistance of former Dow employees. As Dow attempted to obtain discovery relating to the activities of those employees, Dow discovered spoliation of evidence “on a staggering scale.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission’s imposition of default judgment and entry of a limited exclusion order against Organik as sanctions for the spoliation of evidence. Organik’s “willful, bad faith misconduct” deprived Dow of its ability to pursue its trade secret misappropriation claim effectively. The record supports the limited exclusion order of 25 years with the opportunity for Organik to bypass that order at any time if it can show that it has developed its opaque polymers without using Dow’s misappropriated trade secrets. View "Organik Kimya v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

by
Polar, a Finnish company based in Finland, owns U.S. patents directed to a method and apparatus for measuring heart rates during physical exercise. Polar sued, alleging infringement directly and indirectly, through the manufacture, use, sale, and importation of Suunto products. Suunto is a Finnish company with a principal place of business and manufacturing facilities in Finland. Suunto and ASWO (a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in Utah) are owned by the same parent company. ASWO distributes Suunto’s products in the U.S. Suunto ships the accused products to addresses specified by ASWO. ASWO pays for shipping; title passes to ASWO at Suunto’s shipping dock in Finland. At least 94 accused products have been shipped from Finland to Delaware retailers using that standard ordering process. At least three Delaware retail stores sell the products. Suunto also owns, but ASWO maintains, a website, where customers can locate Delaware Suunto retailers or order Suunto products. At least eight online sales have been made in Delaware. The Federal Circuit vacated dismissal of Suunto for lack of personal jurisdiction. Suunto’s activities demonstrated its intent to serve the Delaware market specifically; the accused products have been sold in Delaware. Suunto had purposeful minimum contacts, so that Delaware’s “assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and fair” and proper under the Delaware long-arm​ statute. View "Polar Electro Oy v. Suunto Oy" on Justia Law

by
Between 2001 and 2004, Nitek Electronics, Inc. entered thirty-six shipments of pipe fitting components used for gas meters into the United States from China. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“Customs”) claimed that the merchandise was misclassified and issued Nitek a final penalty claim stating that the tentative culpability was gross negligence. Customs then referred the matter to the United States Department of Justice (“Government”) to bring a claim against Nitek in the Court of International Trade to enforce the penalty. The Government brought suit against Nitek to recover lost duties, antidumping duties, and a penalty based on negligence under 19 U.S.C. 1592. Nitek moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim. The court denied dismissal of the claims to recover lost duties and antidumping duties but did dismiss the Government’s claim for a penalty based on negligence, concluding that the Government had failed to exhaust all administrative remedies under 19 U.S.C. 1592 by not having Customs demand a penalty based on negligence, instead of gross negligence. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the statutory framework of section 1592 does not allow the Government to bring a penalty claim based on negligence in court because such a claim did not exist at the administrative level. View "United States v. Nitek Elecs., Inc." on Justia Law

by
Cross Match claimed that defendants violated 19 U.S.C. 1337(a)(1)(B)(i) by importing articles that infringe or are used to infringe its patents. The International Trade Commission entered a limited exclusion order barring importation of certain optical scanning devices. In 2013, the Federal Circuit first vacated and remanded for revision of the order to bar only a subset of the scanners, reasoning that an exclusion order may not be predicated on a theory of induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. 271(b) where direct infringement does not occur until after importation of the articles the exclusion order would bar. In doing so, the panel effectively eliminated trade relief under Section 337 for induced infringement and potentially for all types of infringement of method claims. The Federal Circuit later granted en banc rehearing and upheld the Commission’s position. Because Section 337 does not answer the question, the Commission’s interpretation of Section 337 is entitled to Chevron deference. The Commission’s interpretation is reasonable because it is consistent with Section 337 and Congress’ mandate to the Commission to safeguard United States commercial interests at the border. View "Suprema, Inc. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n" on Justia Law

by
Between July 30, 2003, and August 31, 2003, Sunline imported eight entries of freshwater crawfish tailmeat from Chinese producer Hubei, which were subject to a U.S. Department of Commerce antidumping duty order covering freshwater crawfish tailmeat from China. The Hubei Entries were entered following approval by Customs of eight single-entry bonds that covered the estimated antidumping duties and designated Hartford as surety. The Hubei Entries were made during the pendency of Hubei’s “new shipper review.” After Hubei’s new shipper review was rescinded, meaning Hubei did not qualify for an individual antidumping duty rate, Customs liquidated the Entries at the 223.01% country-wide rate. After Sunline failed to pay, Customs demanded payment from Hartford, which filed a complaint at the Court of International Trade, seeking to void its obligations under the bonds because Customs had been investigating Sunline for possible import law violations during the period in which the bonds were secured and did not inform Hartford of the investigation. The Trade Court dismissed. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Hartford did not allege any facts that establish a connection between the investigation and Sunline’s failure to pay its antidumping duties after liquidation. View "Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
The U.S. Department of Commerce published an antidumping duty order on wooden bedroom furniture from China. AFMC requested an administrative review of certain companies exporting such furniture to the U.S. in 2009. After Commerce selected it as the mandatory respondent, Huafeng provided Commerce with data related to its 2008 purchases of wood inputs from market economy suppliers relevant to the subject merchandise. Commerce assigned Huafeng a dumping margin of 41.75% using 2009 import data from the Philippines (surrogate values), a market economy, to value the wood inputs as the “best available information” under 19 U.S.C. 1677b(c)(1) because they were contemporaneous with the Period of Review, and the purchases identified by Huafeng were not. After remand Commerce again relied on the surrogate values. On second remand, Commerce determined that it did not need to reopen the record because the “best available information” analysis focuses on the purchase of inputs, not consumption, verified that the market economy purchases were actually from market economy suppliers, and assigned a new dumping margin of 11.79%. The Court of International Trade judgment sustained that valuation. The Federal Circuit reversed, directing direct the Trade Court to reinstate the valuation in the First Redetermination. View "Home Meridian Int'l, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Roche imported BetaTab, a mixture containing beta-carotene, antioxidants, gelatin, sucrose, and corn starch that can be used as a source of Vitamin A in foods, beverages, and vitamin products. Beta-carotene crystalline makes up 20 percent of the mixture and is an organic colorant with provitamin A activity. Whether used as a colorant or provitamin A, beta-carotene must first be combined with other ingredients. Customs classified BetaTab under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 2106.90.97 as “[f]ood preparations not elsewhere specified or included” and denied a protest. In the Court of International Trade,Roche argued that BetaTab was classifiable either as a “coloring matter” under HTSUS subheading 3204.19.35, and eligible for duty-free entry pursuant to the Pharmaceutical Appendix, or, alternatively, as a provitamin under HTSUS heading 2936. The Court ruled in favor of the company, reclassifying the product under HTSUS 2936. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Roche’s manufacturing process did not change BetaTab’s functionality as a provitamin or change the character of beta-carotene as a source of provitamin A. Addition of the stabilizing ingredients did not exclude the merchandise from classification under heading 2936. View "Roche Vitamins, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Alcan imported Flexalcon, an aluminum-plastic laminate foil for food packaging with stringent shelf-life requirements, such as for the military’s Meals Ready to Eat. Flexalcon is a four-layer material for the base of a package and a three-layer material for the lid. Each configuration has a thin layer of aluminum foil between layers of plastic. Aluminum prevents penetration of light, water vapor, oxygen, and other contaminants that would degrade food contents. The plastic gives the packaging tensile strength and increases heat resistance to withstand sterilization and sealing; it prevents cracking and piercing. Alcan listed the material as classifiable under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 7607.20.50, which carries no duty rate and covers “[a]luminum foil (whether or not printed, or backed with paper, paperboard, plastics or similar backing materials) of a thickness (excluding any backing) not exceeding 0.2 mm: Backed: Other.” Customs reclassified the Flexalcon under subheading 3921.90.40, with a 4.2% duty rate, covering “[o]ther plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics: Other: Flexible.” Alcan unsuccessfully protested under 19 U.S.C. 1514–1515. The Court of International Trade upheld the classification. The Federal Circuit affirmed, reasoning that the competing aluminum-foil heading defers to the applicable plastics heading. View "Alcan Food Packaging v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Dependable imports packing, janitorial, floral, office supplies, and some glass items. In 2010, Dependable imported, from China, items invoiced as “Generic Bud Vases” valued at $0.30 or less and larger “Generic Trumpet Vases,” valued at no more than $3.00. Dependable sells the vases to flower-packing houses that fill them with flowers for shipment to supermarkets or similar retailers, where the vase and flower combinations are sold as a single unit. Dependable classified the vases under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule 7018.90.50. At liquidation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection applied Heading 7013, which provides for “Glassware of a kind used for . . . indoor decoration.” Dependable protested but after a deemed denial and paying assessed duties, argued to the Court of International Trade that both vases should be classified under Heading 7010, which includes “containers, of glass, of a kind used for the conveyance or packing of goods ... Carboys, bottles, flasks, jars, pots, vials, ampules and other containers, of glass ... for the conveyance or packing of goods; preserving jars of glass; stoppers, lids and other closures, of glass." The court stated that “a reasonable jury could only conclude that the vases here are commercially fungible with other inexpensive clear glass vases whose principal use is decorative, rather than with glass packing containers” and granted summary judgment in favor of the government. The Federal Circuit affirmed.View "Dependable Packaging Solutions, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

by
Between October 2007 and August 2008, R.T. foods made 24 entries of “Tempura Vegetables” and “Vegetable Bird’s Nests” (frozen tempura-battered vegetable mixtures) from Thailand, 10 through the port of Boston and 14 through the port of Long Beach. United States Customs and Border Protection classified the 10 Boston entries and three of the Long Beach entries under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 2004.90.85, which carries a duty rate of 11.2%. The remaining 11 entries into Long Beach were liquidated under R.T.’s proposed subheading, HTSUS 2106.90.99, which carries a duty-free preference for products from Thailand. HTSUS 2004.90.85 covers “Other vegetables prepared or preserved otherwise than by vinegar or acetic acid, frozen, other than products of heading 2006: Other vegetables and mixtures of vegetables: Other: Other, including mixtures.” HTSUS 2106.90.99 provides for “Food preparations not elsewhere specified or included: Other: Other: Other: Frozen.” R.T. timely filed and Customs denied protests. The Court of International Trade held it only had jurisdiction over three of the entries, then entered summary judgment in favor of the government. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "R.T. Foods, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law