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Section 337 as a Force for "Good"? Exploring the Breadth of Unfair Methods of Competition and Unfair Acts Under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (March, 2014)

Beau Jackson published an article in the Federal Circuit Bar Journal entitled Section 337 as a Force for "Good"? Exploring the Breadth of Unfair Methods of Competition and Unfair Acts Under § 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930

Is there a law that can protect U.S. industries from imported products made with conflict minerals or child labor?  Is there a law that can combat trade practices that harm the environment?  Is there a law that can protect American consumers from food and drugs imported from unsafe facilities?  According to Beau the answer to these questions is yes: Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 can be an effective weapon against such practices.
 
In the lead article of the spring edition of the Federal Circuit Bar Journal, Beau examines how Section 337, a trade statute administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission, could be used to redress unfair methods of competition that are objectionable on social or ethical grounds.  Most Section 337 investigations involve allegations of intellectual property infringement (especially patents), but the statute exists to protect U.S. industries and the American public from a broad range of unfair acts in the context of imported goods.  Section 337 offers complainants a uniquely powerful remedy: the exclusion of unfairly traded imports from the United States.
 
Beau's article analyzes the relevant statutory language and its legislative history, addresses the core elements of proving a violation of Section 337, and discusses ancillary considerations the ITC may consider in a case seeking to combat novel types of unfairness.  The article then describes four examples of unfairness potentially actionable under Section 337: trading in conflict minerals, use of child labor, environmental degradation, and unsafe food and drug practices.        
  
Beau's article is relevant to companies, trade associations, and public interest groups seeking creative ways to challenge unfair trade practices.  The article is sure to generate discussion about how Section 337, commonly viewed as only a patent enforcement mechanism, can more broadly promote free and fair competition within the U.S. marketplace.
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