While non-practising entities still enforce their patents in US district courts, there's been an increase in those using the International Trade Commission. James Coughlan and John Schnurer explain why.
Non-practising entities (NPEs) have traditionally enforced their patent rights in US district courts and not at the US International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC cannot award monetary damages, and it imposes an additional jurisdictional hurdle not required by the district courts.
However, in recent years, the ITC has become a more popular forum for NPEs. In the last three years, at least 31 entities have been sued at the ITC by patent owners who do not manufacture a product covered by their asserted patents. ITC complaints filed by NPEs present unique legal challenges, and respondents must consider their options and potential strategies when defending themselves at the ITC.
The ITC is an independent, quasi-judicial federal agency that investigates alleged unfair acts of importation, including imports of products that allegedly infringe US patents. By rule, ITC actions must be completed expeditiously, and a final decision must be rendered in a timely manner, usually within 14 to 18 months.
NPEs, ITC, patents, infringement, US, litigation