Guest Post by Gary Rickerman: New USITC Section 337 Investigation May Signal A Heightened Awareness of Section 337 in Entertainment and Other Copyright-Based Industries

Noticias de la PI Derechos de autor Guest Post by Gary Rickerman: New USITC Section 337...
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Gary Rinkerman (Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP), el amigo americano de LVCENTINVS nos trae este interesante post:

On June 7, 2013, a rare instance of a copyright-based complaint was filed at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) under Section 337 (19 USC 1337).  See In re Certain TV Programs, Literary Works for TV Production and Episode Guides Pertaining To The Same.

This relatively unique Section 337 complaint may signal, if the ITC institutes an investigation based on the complaint, a new trend and forum for litigation in the television and film segments of the media and entertainment markets.  The impact could also reach streaming, downloading and other media distribution and delivery channels.

The complaint alleges that the copyrighted materials for a proposed television show entitled “Student Teacher” were used without authorization to produce  the television series, “Mr. Young.”  The complainants, an author and a “start-up” production company, E.T. Radcliffe, LLC, are located in the US; the accused television series was and is being produced in Canada.  The proposed respondents include: (1) The Walt Disney Company, owner of the Disney Channel on which the accused programs are shown in the US; and (2) Thunderbird Films, Inc. and Mindset Television, Inc., two Canadian television production companies involved in the production of “Mr. Young.”

Section 337 provides the ITC with authority to investigate certain types of unfair acts in the importation of items into the US.  The ITC has authority to issue relief barring importation of  such products and to enjoin US entities from participating in the unfair practices.

Section 337 is most often used to bring patent-based actions against imported, allegedly infringing items, in part, because registered copyrights and federally registered trademarks can be recorded with Customs for enforcement (a much less costly alternative to ITC actions).  However, copyright actions are within the ITC’s jurisdiction.  Moreover, the unsuccessful allegations of domestic industry in the 1986 investigation involving the “Gremlins” movie merchandise licensing program led, in part, to the overhaul of Section 337 to provide relief for licensing entities.  If the present complaint results in institution of an investigation, and especially if there is a successful outcome for the US complainant, this complaint could signal the beginning of a trend and a new type of complainant at the ITC.


Desde la Asociación de Antiguos Alumnos del Magister Lvcentinvs y la Universidad de Alicante (España), información actualizada sobre los avances en materia de propiedad intelectual y de Derecho internacional privado para juristas europeos e iberoamericanos.


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