Unnecessary Indeterminacy: Process Patent Protection After Kinik v. ITC

By: John M. Eden

In Kinik v. International Trade Commission, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit suggested in dicta that the defenses available to foreign manufacturers in infringement actions under 35 U.S.C. § 271(g) in Federal district courts do not apply to exclusion actions before the International Trade Commission. This iBrief argues that this decision is problematic for three reasons: (1) the Federal Circuit’s decision is inconsistent with the ITC’s longstanding tradition of consulting the patent statute when adjudicating exclusion actions under 19 U.S.C. § 1337, (2) the court’s suggestion that the ITC should be given broad discretion to resolve conflicts between the patent statute and the Tariff Act is at odds with the Chevron doctrine, and (3) if the ITC employs the broad discretion that Kinik confers to it by excluding more foreign art than Federal district courts could lawfully exclude under the patent statute, the enforcement of domestic patent policy in the United States could conceivably violate obligations of non-discrimination (Article 27.1) and burden-shifting (Article 34) imposed by the TRIPS Agreement.

Cite: 2006 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0009

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