The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has voted to institute an investigation of certain reload cartridges for laparoscopic surgical staplers. The products at issue in the investigation are described in the Commission’s notice of investigation.
The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Ethicon LLC of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., and Ethicon US, LLC, both of Cincinnati, OH, on May 30, 2019. Letters supplementing the complaint were filed on June 7 and June 17, 2019. The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain reload cartridges for laparoscopic surgical staplers that infringe patents asserted by the complainants. The complainants request that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.
The USITC has identified the following as respondents in this investigation:
Intuitive Surgical Inc. of Sunnyvale, CA;
Intuitive Surgical Operations, Inc., of Sunnyvale, CA;
Intuitive Surgical Holdings, LLC, of Sunnyvale, CA; and
Intuitive Surgical S. de R.L. de C.V. of Mexicali Baja California, Mexico.
By instituting this investigation (337-TA-1167), the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The USITC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge will assign the case to one of the USITC’s administrative law judges (ALJ), who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The ALJ will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission.
The USITC 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. USITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period.