In the ITC: the public interest factors — newest patent troll countermeasure?

The International Trade Commission (ITC) opened its doors to non-practicing entities (NPEs) with its decision in Certain Coaxial Cable Connectors and Components Thereof, Inv. No. 337-TA-650, holding that the domestic industry requirement can be satisfied by licensing activities. Previously, this requirement had been a barrier to entry deterring NPEs from filing patent infringement suits in the ITC.

Before Coaxial Cable, ITC cases typically were company versus company disputes. Since Coaxial Cable, NPEs have regularly filed patent infringement suits in the ITC, often naming all major industry players as respondents in the same complaint. That tactic benefits the NPE and, notably, has become a rarity in federal district courts (but not the ITC) in light of the joinder rules of the America Invents Act.

These developments have caused uproar among companies that NPEs frequently target. To them, it seems antithetical to the ITC’s very purpose that an entity that makes no products can obtain an order excluding billions of dollars’ worth of popular products such as smartphones and flat-panel TVs from entering the US…

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