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Lawmakers question patent complaint process at USITC

Grant Gross | April 17, 2013
The U.S. Congress should limit the ability of patent holders that don't make products to file infringement complaints at the U.S. International Trade Commission because of a huge increase in cases there, representatives of some companies told lawmakers Tuesday.

But other witnesses questioned whether major changes are needed. Since 2006, the USITC has issued 50 exclusion orders to keep infringing products out of the U.S., and only four of those orders came on behalf of companies that could be classified as PAEs, said Deanna Tanner Okun, former chairwoman at the USITC. The agency has taken several steps to reduce abuses of the complaint process, she added.

The USITC "provides an effective remedy to combat the pervasive problem of infringing imports, thereby providing essential protection" to U.S. companies, she said.

Kevin Rhodes, chief intellectual property counsel at 3M, agreed. A focus on the PAE business model overlooks patent abuses by companies that make and sell products, he said.

The labeling of patent holders as PAEs runs "the risk of penalizing independent inventors, universities, start-ups, technology licensing firms and others legitimately seeking to exploit their patent rights through litigation of entirely meritorious claims," he said.

 

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