logo

Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


back

WSJ Warns Against Mixing Trade and IP

A Wall Street Journal ($$) editorial today warns that an obscure section of the old Smoot-Hawley tariff permits American companies to strike against their competitors by having the government block imports that allegedly infringe their patents. The Journal sees a threat to the mobile networks that depend on imported telephones. Here are some excerpts:
The peril comes from the International Trade Commission (ITC), an obscure federal agency that typically deals with trade but suddenly is telecom central. There are currently cases before the ITC affecting virtually every mobile-phone operator in the country and most of the largest handset makers in the world. Ericsson and Samsung have filed complaints against each other, and Qualcomm has sued Nokia. Broadcom, a chipmaker that owns patents for mobile-phone technology, has filed against Qualcomm, which supplies chips used in new phones sold by Verizon and Sprint.

All of these companies are seeking an edge against their rivals via "exclusion orders," which would ban the import of products said to violate U.S. patent (yes, patent) law. Depending on how the cases are ultimately decided, millions of cell phones could be barred from the U.S. market at a cost to the phone makers and network operators of billions of dollars.

The ITC was established in 1916 as the U.S. Tariff Commission. Smoot-Hawley gave it the authority to review claims of "unfair trade practices" based on patent infringement. If a company with U.S. operations believes a competitor is importing a product that infringes on its intellectual property, it can bring a Section 337 claim to the ITC. An administrative law judge then hears the case, and he can issue an exclusion order barring imports of the infringing product for the duration of the patent. The order is also subject to the review and approval by the six-member, bipartisan ITC board.

Incredibly, all of this takes place separately from normal judicial proceedings on patent infringement or validity. Most of the cell-phone cases mentioned above are also in court on patent-infringement grounds, but these cases can take years and are subject to lengthy appeals. The ITC tries to discharge Section 337 cases in about a year, and will not wait for the courts. Once the ITC votes on the judge's order, there is only one avenue of appeal: The President has 60 days to override the ITC's order. If he doesn't act, the import ban takes effect....

The big picture here is that the ITC has emerged as the patent bar's venue of choice to evade this year's Supreme Court decision in eBay. That ruling raised the bar on permanent injunctions in patent-infringement cases. But the ITC isn't subject to eBay, remarkably enough, so lawyers and patent holders have descended on the agency for a quick protectionist hit.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave....

Comments


Submit Comment

Blog Post

Name:

Email (optional):

Your Humanity:

Prove you are human by retyping the anti-spam code.
For example if the code is unodosthreefour,
type 1234 in the textbox below.

Anti-spam Code
UnoThreeNineSeven:


Post



   

Most Recent Comments

Questions and Challenges For Defenders of the Current Copyright Regime Subject Very controversial Gráfica em

The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges Finally got around to looking at the comments, sorry for delay... Replying to Stephan: I'm sorry

Let's See: Pallas, Pan, Patents, Persephone, Perses, Poseidon, Prometheus... Seems like a kinda bizarre proposal to me. We just need to abolish the patent system, not replace

The right to rub smooth using a hardened steel tool with ridges I'm a bit confused by this--even if "hired to invent" went away, that would just change the default

Do we need a law? @ Alexander Baker: So basically, if I copy parts of 'Titus Andronicus' to a webpage without

Do we need a law? The issue is whether the crime is punished not who punishes it. If somebody robs our house we do

Do we need a law? 1. Plagiarism most certainly is illegal, it is called "copyright infringement". One very famous

Yet another proof of the inutility of copyright. The 9/11 Commission report cost $15,000,000 to produce, not counting the salaries of the authors.

WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece P.S. The link to Amazon's WKRP product page:

WKRP In Cincinnati - Requiem For A Masterpiece Hopefully some very good news. Shout! Factory is releasing the entire series of WKRP in Cincinnati,

What's copywritable? Go fish in court. @ Anonymous: You misunderstood my intent. I was actually trying to point out a huge but basic

Rights Violations Aren't the Only Bads I hear that nonsense from pro-IP people all the

Intellectual Property Fosters Corporate Concentration Yeah, I see the discouragement of working on a patented device all the time. Great examples

Music without copyright Hundreds of businessmen are looking for premium quality article distribution services that can be

Les patent trolls ne sont pas toujours des officines

Les patent trolls ne sont pas toujours des officines

Patent Lawyers Who Don't Toe the Line Should Be Punished! Moreover "the single most destructive force to innovation is patents". We'd like to unite with you

Bonfire of the Missalettes!

Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? So, if our patent system was "broken," TFP of durable goods should have dropped. Conversely, since

Does the decline in total factor productivity explain the drop in innovation? I wondered about TFP, because I had heard that TFP was increasing. Apparently, it depends on who