337, Section

An abbreviation for a type of patent, copyright or trademark action brought before the United States International Trade Commission pursuant to §337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. §1337) for “unfair competition,” which usually means violation of intellectual property rights. The ITC cannot award damages, but instead awards an exclusion order directing United States Customs to seize offending imports.

ITC cases are run on a fast track—the ITC is normally required to finish the case within twelve to eighteen months. Since §337 is, in principle, a trade protection measure, a plaintiff must show harm to domestic industry, e.g., manufacture by the plaintiff or a licensee in the United States, significant employment of U.S. capital, or U.S. R&D.

The European Union has a similar provision, which can also result in an exclusion order, but it is mostly used for trademark protection and infrequently for patent infringement and has recently been amended by Regulation 1383/2003 with a view to making it more effective. §337 cases are heard by an Administrative Law Judge or ALJ, and appeals are to the United States Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit.

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