Unión Europea
Estados Unidos de América
Observancia de los derechos de propiedad intelectual
8. Section 337 of the United States Tariff Act, as amended, gives United States' right holders the possibility to request the United States International Trade Commission to declare unlawful, under certain conditions, the importation or sale of articles that infringe valid United States' patents, registered trademarks, registered copyrights or registered mask works of a semiconductor chip product. Please explain why this procedure is limited to foreign goods and not extended to domestic products. Against this background, please also explain how such legislation complies with the United States' obligations under the relevant WTO Agreements.
The United States amended Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. 1337, as part of our implementation of the Uruguay Round results. As stated in the "Statement of Administrative Action" accompanying the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, those amendments bring US procedures into conformity with national treatment obligations under GATT 1994, while providing for effective enforcement of intellectual property rights at the border. Moreover, the procedures applied under Section 337 fully comply with Article 49 of the TRIPS Agreement in that they "conform to principles equivalent in substance to those set forth" in Section 2 of the TRIPS Agreement. For example, each element of Articles 41 and 42 of the TRIPS Agreement are met in the context of a Section 337 proceeding. The TRIPS Agreement, negotiated after a panel report was issued finding that certain aspects of Section 337 were inconsistent with Article III of GATT 1947, recognizes that it may be necessary to treat domestic and imported products differently to enforce intellectual property rights effectively in respect of imported goods. The 1994 amendments to Section 337 made the following changes to USITC procedures to implement the panel’s recommendations: - Elimination of the requirement that the USITC issue a final determination within a fixed period of time. Instead, the amendment provides that the ITC must complete its investigation "at the earliest practicable time". To promote rapid adjudication, the USITC must establish a "target date" for completion of an investigation within 45 days after it is initiated. These requirements parallel the procedures set out in recently revised Rule 16 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure providing district courts with various mechanisms for expediting litigation. They are also consistent with district court efforts to avoid delay, such as by establishing target dates for the completion of various stages of litigation; - Means to prevent infringement proceedings being brought against imported goods in two forums at the same time. A district court hearing an infringement case is required to stay its proceedings, at the request of a respondent in a Section 337 proceeding, in respect of any claim that involves the same issues as those pending before the ITC. Such issues would include questions of patent validity, infringement, and any defences that might be raised in both proceedings. The district court may use its discretionary authority to stay any other claims in the case.