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India Trade Barriers ? New USITC Report Says “Yes”; India Says “No”

India Trade Barriers ? New USITC Report Says “Yes”; India Says “No”

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has released a new report slamming India’s trade, investment and industrial policies and detailing their impact on the U.S. economy.

According to the report, tariff and customs procedures as well as taxes and financial regulations “had the most significant effect on U.S. businesses while foreign direct investment caps and intellectual property policies also impacted companies across several sectors.”

If tariff and investment restrictions were fully eliminated and standards of intellectual property (IP) protection were made comparable to U.S. and Western European levels, US exports to India would rise by two-thirds and US investment in India would roughly double, the Trade, Investment, and Industrial Policies in India: Effects on the US Economy report said.

The USITC has been asked by the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance to conduct a second investigation looking at policy changes under the new government. The agency expects to deliver the results to the Committees by September 24.

The report, prepared at the behest of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance, covers tariffs and customs procedures, foreign direct investment restrictions, local-content requirements, treatment of intellectual property, taxes and financial regulations, regulatory uncertainty, and other non-tariff measures such as unclear legal liability, price controls, and sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards.

India angrily responded to the USITC report, calling it a “unilateral action” that “has no validity.”

A senior official in the New Delhi government told the media that, “India was not party to the investigations and it is the U.S.’ internal decision. The U.S. government has not taken up the matter bilaterally or multilaterally with us. India’s position remains the same as it was last year.”

The USITC report is the second such report released over the past several years by the agency on the tariff and non-tariff trade barriers U.S. companies face while doing business with the Sub-Continent.

The Washington, D.C.-headquartered U.S.-India Business Council, the largest bilateral trade association in the U.S., took a somewhat conciliatory tone when responding to the USITC report.

“There is no doubt that U.S. companies face challenges in India, but many of these issues are institutional in nature and take time and a concerted effort by all stakeholders to resolve,” said Diane Farrell, acting president of the Washington, D.C.-headquartered U.S.-India Business Council.

“As this most recent report suggests, there is a lot of potential for both countries, and we are committed to working alongside our members and both governments to further develop and deepen the two-way commercial relationship,” she said.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit India later this month.

01/06/2015

Samsung, Nvidia Trade Broadsides in Patent War

Washington, D.C. – South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) seeking to block from the U.S. market any and all products using computer-graphics chips made by  Nvidia Corp.

Samsung called on the federal agency to investigate Santa Clara, California-based Nvidia for what it says are violations of Samsung patents and for making false claims about its products.

The Korean company’s lawsuit came in response to Nvidia’s charges that Samsung and rival Qualcomm Inc of infringing patents on its graphics-processing unit (GPU).

Samsung, which had filed the lawsuit in a U.S. federal court last month, is seeking damages for deliberate infringement of several technical patents, including a few that govern the way semiconductors buffer and use data.

Also named in the complaint were 11 other Nvidia partners – computer-parts manufacturers Biostar Microtech, Elitegroup Computer Systems, EVGA, Fuhu, Jaton, Mad Catz, Ouya, Sparkle Computer, Toradex, Wikipad and ZOTAC – all of which sell products using Nvidia graphics cards and system chips.

The complaint is the latest in a series of patent-related legal actions between the two companies that started in September with Nvidia suing both Samsung and mobile-chip maker Qualcomm.

Samsung’s ITC filing is the latest broadside in a patent battle between Nvidia and Samsung.

In September, Nvidia filed a suit in U.S. Federal Court in Delaware claiming that Nvidia’s graphics patents were being violated and a complaint with the ITC calling for the agency to block shipments of some of Samsung’s best-selling smartphones and tablets into the U.S.

Last month, the ITC agreed to investigate Nvidia’s complaint.Samsung fired back in early November with its own civil suit in Virginia, claiming Nvidia and its customer Velocity Micro, as a whole, violated eight of its patents.

The ITC is expected to determine whether to initiate an investigation within 30 calendar days of a complaint being filed.

12/02/2014

Steel Makers Unite to Appeal ITC Import Decision

Washington, DC – US producers of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) have said they will file an appeal of the negative decision on “material injury” by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

The AK Steel Corp., ATI Flat Rolled Producers, and the United Steelworkers Union, which represents workers engaged in the production of GOES at ATI Flat Rolled, will join forces to fight the ITC’s decision.

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, which represents workers engaged in the production of GOES at AK Steel Corporation, also expressed its support for the appeal.

GOES is a flat-rolled alloy, specialty steel product that’s used primarily in the production of laminated cores for large and medium-sized electrical power transformers and distribution transformers.

The petitions cover GOES in either sheet or strip form, in coils or in straight lengths imported from the Czech Republic, China, South Korea, and Russia.

“We are very disappointed by the negative determination by the ITC,” said David A. Hartquist of Kelley, Drye & Warren LLP, the Washington, DC-based counsel to petitioners.

“We believe the case warranted an affirmative determination and that the majority decision contains fundamental errors of fact and law,” he said.

The Department of Commerce, he said, “found antidumping margins of up to 159 percent, which caused lost sales and significant financial injury to the US producers, which in our judgment met the legal standard for an affirmative determination.”

The petitioners also filed an appeal on September 16, 2014 to a similar ITC decision covering imports from Germany, Japan and Poland.

10/24/2014

 

Denim Jeans Makers Hit with ‘Section 337’ Investigation

Washington, DC – Seventeen of the apparel world’s largest denim jeans manufacturers are being targeted with a ‘Section 337′ investigation on charges of patent infringement by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

The investigation stems from a complaint filed by RevoLaze Inc., a laser technology firm headquartered in Westlake, Ohio, charging that the manufacturers violated US patent law by illegally utilizing the company’s proprietary laser scribing technology.

“From the beginning we were confident that there was overwhelming evidence to support the investigation. We’re pleased with the ITC’s decision to move forward,” said a spokesman for the law firm representing RevoLaze.

The denim jean companies named include ‘big name’ manufacturers in the US, Canada, Sweden, and Italy such as Levi Strauss & Co.; Abercrombie & Fitch; American Eagle Outfitters; H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB; Roberto Cavalli S.p.Ali.; Buffalo International; The Gap Inc.; Guess? Inc.; Fashion Box S.p.A.; and Eddie Bauer LLC.

The next step calls for the ITC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge will assign the case to one of the agency’s administrative law judges (ALJ), who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The ALJ will then make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337 with that initial determination subject to review by the Commission.

The ITC “will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the USITC will set a target date for completing the investigation.”

Remedial orders in Section 337 cases “are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the US Trade Representative within that 60-day period,” the UITC said.

09/26/2014

Segway Inc. Targets Transporters from China

Bedford, NH – Segway Inc. has filed a major patent case against imports of personal transporters from a number of Chinese companies in Beijing and Shenzhen.

The company is alleging that the personal transporters from China “infringe its utility and design patents” in a complaint that could, according to one source, lead the International Trade Commission (ITC) to issue a ‘general exclusion order,’ prohibiting not only all personal transporters from China, but from any country, as well.

“This patent case will be a very visible high tech case brought by Segway against Chinese imports of Segway like personal transporters,” said William Perry, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney.

The company “is also asking the ITC to issue cease and desist orders to prohibit US importers from selling any infringing imports that they brought into the United States,” he said.

Segway is requesting a general exclusion order to exclude all personal transporters from China and other countries and also ‘cease and desist’ orders to stop importers from selling infringing personal transporters in their inventories.

The complaint filed with the ITC lists at least six manufacturers and three distributors that Segway claims are infringing two patents related to the transporter controls, and two for the design of the machines.

The manufacturers named, the complaint says, “intend their products to largely, if not completely, mimic Segway’s personal transporters in operation.”

The manufacturers named in the complaint include Shenzhen Inmotion Technologies Co., Robstep Robot Co. and Ninebot Inc., all of which claim they independently developed their own ‘self-balancing’ transporters without benefit of Segway’s patented technology.

Should Segway win the case, the government could block the competing products made overseas from the US market.

US inventor Dean Kamen introduced the Segway in 2001. His company was eventually acquired by Summit Strategic Investments in 2013.

09/17/2014

Changes Planned for Harmonized Tariff Codes

Washington, DC – International customs officials at the World Customs Organization (WCO) have agreed on 234 changes to the global system that categorizes products that are imported and exported around the world.

In the US, those mandated changes will be implemented by the International Trade Commission – the federal government agency responsible for maintaining and updating the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) product category system utilized by US-based companies involved in global trade.

As a result of the move by the WCO, the agency has said it will make the appropriate recommendations to the White House on the necessary modifications to the HTS.

The US and other countries have until January 1, 2017, to incorporate the changes, “but much work lies ahead,” according to Jim Holbein, director of the ITC office that maintains the HTS.

“The first step for importers and exporters is to become aware of the changes being made at the international level,” he said. “If they believe they will be affected, they will want to stay on top of the process as it moves forward.”

‘Nomenclature analysts’ at the ITC “are analyzing the WCO document” with the ITC expecting to issue proposed recommendations on changes to the HTS by the end of this year, he added.

“At that time, the USITC will seek public comments on the proposed recommendations,” he said. “Detailed information on how to submit comments and related deadlines will be provided at that time.”

The USITC, said Holbein, will consider all public comments, as well as comments from other US government agencies in making its recommendations, which will be submitted to the White House via the Office of the US Trade Representative by July 2015.

Following expiration of a 60-day layover period before Congress, the president has the authority to forward the modifications to the HTS for action. .

The Brussels, Belgium-headquartered World Customs Organization (WCO) was established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC).

An independent inter-governmental body, it represents 179 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98 percent of world trade.

09/12/2014