WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representatives David Schweikert (AZ-01) and Don Beyer (VA-08) introduced the Advancing America’s Interests Act, legislation that will help prevent the International Trade Commission (ITC) from being misused by patent-licensing entities. The ITC has the power to ban products from entry into the U.S. marketplace and this power has been persistently abused by patent trolls which buy up patents with the sole intent of using them to extract profits or stifle competition. This legislation makes needed reforms to the ITC that ultimately help protect U.S. industries, workers, and consumers.
“For far too long, the International Trade Commission has been misused by patent trolls seeking to exploit financial gain at the expense of American consumers and businesses,” said Rep. Schweikert. “The Advancing America’s Interests Act modernizes the ITC by reforming its unfair import processes and ensuring public interest is always prioritized above bad actors looking to stifle competition. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that increases transparency at the ITC, encourages a strong patent system, and ensures America can continue being a leader in advancing innovation.”
“The ITC is a critical forum that was created to shield U.S. businesses from unfair foreign competition,” said Rep. Beyer. “It is a powerful tool but unfortunately it has been misused by patent licensing entities who target American companies with needless and unjustified litigation. This legislation would help refocus the Commission on its core mission and protect the U.S. economy and American jobs.”
“Patent trolling is a growing problem for the auto industry where IP fights over small dollar parts can end up stopping entire vehicles from entering the country. It’s a dishonest tactic that trolls use to extract hefty settlements from automakers and other companies in the U.S.,” said John Bozzella, President and CEO, Alliance for Automotive Innovation. “Reps. Schweikert and Beyer are right to step in and stop patent trolls from abusing the International Trade Commission by filing dubious patent complaints (over and over). Their plan returns the ITC to its original mission and says: if it wants to stop a product from entering the country, it must be in the public interest. That’s the right standard, and a strategy to make the ITC less attractive for trolling.”
“The ITC Modernization Alliance is proud to endorse the Advancing America’s Interests Act – a critical piece of legislation that will bring much-needed reform to the International Trade Commission’s Section 337 process. We thank Congressmen David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Don Beyer (D-VA) for their leadership in bringing this legislation before Congress. By returning the ITC to its original mission, the Advancing America’s Interests Act will help protect strategically important U.S. industries which are increasingly being targeted by abusive litigation under section 337. It will institute long-overdue reforms that will ensure the ITC’s power is exercised judiciously by reforming the “domestic industry” standard, ensuring patent holders are advancing innovation and not stifled by litigation. Furthermore, it will cement the ITC’s primary role in safeguarding the interests of the American people, as Congress intended,” said the ITC Modernization Alliance.
“I am proud to extend our members’ support and appreciation to Congressmen David Schweikert (R-AZ) and Don Beyer (D-VA) for the introduction of the Advancing America’s Interests Act,” said Dave Jones, Executive Director, High Tech Inventors Alliance. “This pivotal legislation promises to return the International Trade Commission to its mission–protecting American innovators from unfair global competition and shielding them from exploitative third-party litigation-funded lawsuits that, until now, have placed undue strain on our nation’s capacity for innovation. We thank Congressmen Schweikert and Beyer, and we look forward to working alongside all advocates of American inventors to ensure the passage of the Advancing America’s Interests Act.”
The legislation will help modernize the ITC and its processes to ensure that resources are properly directed toward advancing America’s interests and protecting our industries, workers, and consumers. Specifically, the bill:
- Establishes an appropriate “domestic industry” standard, which would require that a U.S. company cannot be used as a plaintiff/complainant unless they voluntarily join a complaint requesting the ITC’s relief. This refined standard would also clarify that companies whose only industry is licensing (no research, development, or manufacturing) must show that its patent has led to the adoption or development of products that actually incorporate the patent.
- Reaffirms the ITC’s public interest obligation. The ITC will be required to consider public interest as paramount to the exercise of its remedial powers (regarding an exclusion order) and affirmatively determine that any exclusion serves the public interest.
The full bill text is available here.