ITC launches pilot programme aimed at curbing patent trolls
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ITC launches pilot programme aimed at curbing patent trolls

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) announced on Monday that it has launched a pilot programme to speed up the disposal of patent cases in an effort to thwart so-called trolls

The programme will test whether earlier rulings on certain issues in Section 337 investigations, which deal with allegedly unfair import practices usually in relation to intellectual property, could reduce frivolous litigation.

The main remedy available in Section 337 investigations is an order requiring US Customs to preventing the infringing imports from entering the country.

Under the scheme, an administrative judge will determine whether companies suing for patent infringement have sufficient production, research or licensing operations in the US to make them eligible to be heard at the ITC. In some cases, the judges may be able to determine whether the plaintiff meets the criteria within 100 days.

The ITC may adjust the programme once it is underway. If the trial is successful, the system may be implemented permanently.

In a press release, the ITC admitted that “resolving issues in pilot program investigations will be challenging” but argued that “the complainant controls the timing of the complaint’s filing and should be prepared to prove its case, including such elements as domestic industry, importation, and standing, without extensive discovery on these issues".

The ITC initiative appears to be part of a coordinated effort by government agencies to address the growing issue of patent trolls. Earlier this month the White House issued a proposal to combat trolls, which will largely be put into action by the USPTO, and the Federal Trade Commission announced it will investigate their potentially anti-competitive practices.

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