Manufacturers know that intellectual property is the basis of America’s innovative economy, and protecting intellectual property (IP) rights assures manufacturers that their inventions will be secure as they build their companies and create jobs. Manufacturers face many challenges in protecting their IP, and they need allies in the federal government to help halt illicit imports that infringe on their rights.
Several Congressional leaders recently called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to more effectively protect U.S. patent holders from imports that infringe their patents, without disrupting legitimate trade. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch sent a recent letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to inquire about CBP’s resources and processes for enforcing exclusion orders. Rep. Howard Coble, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property & the Internet, also sent a letter expressing his concerns about CBP’s process for enforcing exclusion orders. Rep. Coble called for DHS to conduct an independent review of CBP’s enforcement procedures and make recommendations that would improve fairness, transparency and efficacy.
Under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) is charged with investigating allegations of unfair import practices that involve patent infringement. If the ITC finds that a violation has occurred, it directs CBP to deny entry of the infringing product into the United States. Patent holders that prevail in these costly, technical and often contentious cases should expect robust enforcement from CBP. A survey conducted in FY2010 found that more than half of respondents believed infringing goods had been imported after ITC issued an exclusion order.
The NAM will continue working to ensure lawmakers pursue a manufacturing growth agenda that recognizes IP as the basis of an innovation economy and supports trade.