Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
Changzhou Wujin Fine Chem. Factory Co., Ltd. v. United States
When merchandise is sold in the U.S. at less than fair value, the Commerce Department may impose antidumping duties, 19 U.S.C. 1673e(a)(1), 1677b(a)(1), 1677a(a). Commerce generally determines individual margins for each exporter or producer, but if that is not practicable, may investigate a reasonable number of respondents. Others are assigned a separate “all-others” rate. In proceedings involving non-market economy countries, including China, Commerce presumes that exporters and producers are state-controlled, and assigns them a state-wide rate. This presumption is rebuttable; a company that demonstrates sufficient independence from state control may apply for a separate rate. Commerce concluded that the Jiangsu Jianghai Chemical was entitled to a separate rate. The company subsequently challenged the rate calculation. The Court of International Trade held that Commerce did not exceed the scope of a remand order when it recalculated the U.S. price and that the explanation given for calculation of the separate rate was not unreasonable. The Federal Circuit reversed in part and remanded to Commerce to again reconsider its approach to calculating the separate rate. “Commerce must act non-arbitrarily and must explain why its approach is a ‘reasonable method,’” in light alternatives available and with recognition that the calculation will affect only cooperating respondents. View "Changzhou Wujin Fine Chem. Factory Co., Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law
IGT v. Alliance Gaming Corp.
IGT owns patents related to “wheel games,” casino gaming machines containing a secondary bonus game incorporating a spinning wheel. IGT sued Bally for infringement and Bally counterclaimed under state and federal antitrust laws. The district court denied motions for summary judgment on the antitrust issues, granted the motions that the patents were invalid and not infringed, and certified the patent issues for interlocutory appeal. The Federal Circuit affirmed. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment against Bally on its antitrust counterclaims. The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that the undisputed facts were insufficient to establish the existence of a relevant antitrust market in wheel games. View "IGT v. Alliance Gaming Corp." on Justia Law
Brooks v. Dunlop Mfg., Inc.
Under 35 U.S.C. 292(a) it is unlawful to engage in specified acts of false patent marking, such as affixing a mark that falsely asserts that the item is patented, with intent to deceive the public. Prior to 2011, the statute authorized private parties (relators) to bring a qui tam or informer’s suit for violations, but did not specify procedures or authorize the government to file its own suit to collect the penalty. The 2011 AIA eliminated the qui tam provision, but authorized actions for damages by any person “who has suffered a competitive injury as a result of a violation.” The AIA provides that marking products with expired patents is not a violation and that it applies to all pending cases. In 2010, Brooks sued, alleging that Dunlop marked a guitar string winder with the number of a patent that was both expired and invalidated. The AIA was enacted while the case was stayed, pending the outcome in another case. The district court held that the application of the AIA to pending actions did not violate the Due Process Clause and that the legislation rationally furthered a legitimate legislative purpose. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Brooks v. Dunlop Mfg., Inc." on Justia Law
Ritz Camera & Image, LLC v. Sandisk Corp.
SanDisk allegedly controls the market for NAND flash memory, a computer chip that can be erased and reprogrammed that is widely used in consumer products such as digital cameras, mobile phones, and USB drives. Retailers purchase from SanDisk, the patentee, and its licensees. Ritz filed a class action, alleging that SanDisk violated the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 2 by fraudulently procuring patents by failing to disclose prior art and making misrepresentations to the Patent and Trademark Office and established its monopoly by enforcing patents against competitors and by threatening competitors’ customers. SanDisk asserted that Ritz lacked standing to bring a Walker Process antitrust because Ritz faced no threat of an infringement action and had no other basis to bring a declaratory judgment action challenging the patents. The district court rejected the argument, acknowledging that such claims normally are brought by competitors of the patentee as counterclaims in infringement actions, but noting that the Walker Process decision places no limitation on eligible plaintiffs. On interlocutory appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed that a direct purchaser is not categorically precluded from bringing a Walker Process antitrust claim, even if it would not be entitled to seek declaratory relief against the patentee under the patent laws. View "Ritz Camera & Image, LLC v. Sandisk Corp." on Justia Law
PSC VSMPO-Avisma Corp. v. United States
Avisma produces magnesium and titanium sponge in Russia. The process starts with a dehydration step. Most of the resultant raw magnesium is then processed into pure and alloyed magnesium, the subject of an antidumping order issued by Commerce in response to a petition by domestic producers. A portion of the raw magnesium is used to produce titanium sponge. After Commerce imposed a 15.77 percent duty, the Trade Court remanded the case. On remand, Commerce declined to alter the determination. The Trade Court then held that, when determining Avisma’s magnesium production costs for purposes of calculating the constructed value of Avisma’s magnesium, Commerce was required to take into account Avisma’s entire production process, which includes titanium, as well as magnesium. In its second remand determination, Commerce determined the constructed value of Avisma’s magnesium by taking into account Avisma’s entire production process, resulting in an antidumping duty of 8.51 percent. The Trade Court issued final judgment accordingly. The Federal Circuit reversed and reinstated Commerce’s earlier decision. The Trade Court erred in requiring Commerce to consider an affidavit by Avisma’s accountant that Commerce had determined was untimely. View "PSC VSMPO-Avisma Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law
Delano Farms Co., et al. v. The California Table Grape Comm., et al.
Plaintiffs, California grape growers who purchased grapevines covered by the USDA's patents, brought this action to challenge the validity and enforceability of the USDA's patents on three varieties of grapes, as well as the conduct of the California Table Grape Commission (Commission) and the USDA in licensing and enforcing the patents. The court held that the district court correctly held that the USDA was a necessary party to plaintiffs' declaratory judgement claims based on the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. 1 et seq. The court also held that the waiver of sovereign immunity in section 702 of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 500 et seq., was broad enough to allow plaintiffs to pursue equitable relief against the USDA on its patent law claims. The court further held that plaintiffs' claims were sufficient to overcome any presumption of regularity that could apply to a certain USDA employee who was one of the co-inventors of each of the three varieties of grapes. The court finally held that because plaintiffs failed to point to anything other than the issuance of a patent for the Sweet Scarlet grapes that would provide a plausible basis for finding that Sweet Scarlet grapes form a relevant antitrust market, the court upheld the district court's decision dismissing plaintiffs' antitrust claim. View "Delano Farms Co., et al. v. The California Table Grape Comm., et al." on Justia Law