Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
The Commission instituted Investigation No. 337-TA-791 (“the 791 investigation”) on July 20, 2011, based on a complaint filed by Twin-Star International, Inc. of Delray Beach, Florida and TS Investment Holding Corp. of Miami, Florida (collectively, “Twin-Star”). 76 FR 43345-46 (July 20, 2011). The Commission instituted Investigation No. 337-TA-826 on January 19, 2012 based on another complaint filed by Twin-Star, and consolidated it with the 791 investigation. 77 FR 2757-58 (Jan. 19, 2012). The complaints allege a violation of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, 19 U.S.C. 1337, in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain electric fireplaces, components thereof, manuals for same, certain processes for manufacturing or relating to same and certain products containing same by reason of infringement of U.S. Copyright Nos. TX0007350474; TX0007350476; VA0001772660; and VA0001772661; and by reason of misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, and tortious inference with contract, the threat or effect of which is to destroy or substantially injure an industry in the United States.
The Commission's notice of investigation named Reliap, Yue, and Whalen Furniture Manufacturing, Inc. (“Whalen”) of San Diego, California as respondents. On July 3, 2012, the Commission issued notice of its determination not to review the ALJ's ID terminating the investigation as to Whalen based on a consent order and settlement agreement.
On June 20, 2012, Twin-Star moved for an ID finding the remaining respondents, Reliap and Yue, in default and in violation of section 337 pursuant to Commission Rule 210.17, 19 CFR 210.17. The Commission investigative attorney filed a response in support of the motion.
On July 13, 2012, the ALJ granted Twin-Star's motion and issued the final ID in this investigation finding the remaining respondents in default and in violation of section 337 pursuant to 19 CFR 210.17 because they did not participate in the investigation following withdrawal of their counsel on March 12, 2012. The ID also contained the ALJ's recommended determination on remedy. Specifically, the ALJ recommended issuance of a limited exclusion order with respect to the defaulting respondents.
Also on July 13, 2012, the ALJ issued Order No. 19, denying a motion filed by Yue on December 11, 2011, for summary determination that Twin-Star's breach of contract claim is outside the scope of the investigation. On July 20, 2012, the Commission investigative attorney petitioned for review of Order No. 19 and the ALJ's final ID. Twin-Star filed a response in opposition on July 30, 2012.
Having examined the record of this investigation, including the ALJ's ID, Order No. 19, and the parties' briefing, the Commission has determined to review Order No. 19 and to review the final ID in part to the extent that it finds a violation of section 337 based on the breach of contract allegations. The Commission has determined not to review the remainder of the ID.
On review, the parties, interested government agencies, and any other interested persons are requested to submit briefing on the issue under review and to address in particular the following:
(1) What support exists for the notion that unfair acts or unfair methods of competition under section 337(a)(1)(A), 19 U.S.C. 1337(a)(1)(A), are limited to “public wrongs” as opposed to “private wrongs.” Please discuss statutory language, any relevant legislative history, and legal precedent, particularly
(2) Please explain whether a breach of contract claim can give rise to a violation of 19 U.S.C. 1337(a)(1)(A), and discuss any relevant statutory language, legislative history, and legal precedent.
In connection with the final disposition of this investigation, the Commission may issue an order that results in the exclusion of the subject articles from entry into the United States. See 19 U.S.C. 1337(d). Accordingly, the Commission is interested in receiving written submissions that address the form of remedy, if any, that should be ordered. If a party seeks exclusion of an article from entry into the United States for purposes other than entry for consumption, the party should so indicate and provide information establishing that activities involving other types of entry either are adversely affecting it or likely to do so. For background, see
When the Commission contemplates some form of remedy, it must consider the effects of that remedy upon the public interest. The factors the Commission will consider include the effect that an exclusion order and/or cease and desist orders would have on (1) the public health and welfare, (2) competitive conditions in the U.S. economy, (3) U.S. production of articles that are like or directly competitive with those that are subject to investigation, and (4) U.S. consumers. The Commission is therefore interested in receiving written submissions that address the aforementioned public interest factors in the context of this investigation.
When the Commission orders some form of remedy, the U.S. Trade Representative, as delegated by the President, has 60 days to approve or disapprove the Commission's action. See Presidential Memorandum of July 21, 2005, 70 FR 43251 (July 26, 2005). During this period, the subject articles would be entitled to enter the United States under bond, in an amount determined by the Commission and prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury. The Commission is therefore interested in receiving submissions concerning the amount of the bond that should be imposed if a remedy is ordered.
Persons filing written submissions must file the original document electronically on or before the deadlines stated above and submit 8 true paper copies to the Office of the Secretary by noon the next day pursuant to Commission rule 210.4(f), 19 CFR 210.4(f). Submissions should refer to the
Any person desiring to submit a document (or portion thereof) to the Commission in confidence must request confidential treatment unless the information has already been granted such treatment during the proceedings. All such requests should be directed to the Secretary of the Commission and must include a full statement of the reasons why the Commission should grant such treatment.
The authority for the Commission's determination is contained in section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1337), and in sections 210.17, 42-43, 45-46 and 50 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (19 CFR 210.17, 210.42-43, 210.45-46, and 210.50).
By order of the Commission.