What is Section 337
According to U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), unlawful (unfair methods of competition and unfair acts) importation of goods into the US (a.k.a. Section 337) most often involves allegations of intellectual property rights infringement, including patent and registered trademark infringement.
What is General Exclusion Order (GEO)?
Should a violation of Section 337 be found by the Commission after an investigation or evidentiary hearing, the Commission may issue either a Limited Exclusion Order or a General Exclusion Order. Under the General Exclusion Orders (“GEO”) all goods of a certain description must be denied entry, with specified exceptions. The Limited Exclusion Order, on the other hand, means all goods of a certain description imported by a certain company or companies must be denied entry. Limited Exclusion Orders are sometimes directed against goods manufactured by or exported by a certain company or companies. The nature of the Exclusion Order itself, and the extent of enforcement, will be detailed in the Exclusion Order Notice.
GEO and printing consumables industry
Up to date, there are 15 cases involving Section 337 in the printing consumables industry, 9 of them are ended up with GEO and in 6 out of these 9 cases Seizure and Forfeiture Orders were also issued (Seizure and Forfeiture Orders will be issued where the importer attempts to import similar goods which are the subject of the Exclusion Order after issuance of the Exclusion Order). Some recent cases which GEO were issued are 337-829 (about twisted gear), 337-918 (about dongle gear), and 337-1174 (about reset gear).
GEOs are enforced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Once the GEO is issued, the related infringing products are blocked at US Customs and not allowed to enter into US, no matter whom the supplier is or where are the products come from. At present, there are 185 cases which US Customs has issued Seizure and Forfeiture Orders subsequent to a GEO to the printing consumables industry, most of these Seizure and Forfeiture Orders were executed quickly and involve both online & offline channels. Take 337-918 case as an example – after issuing a GEO for “dongle gear” on August 31, 2015, around two months later, the first Seizure and Forfeiture Order of 337-918 was issued against Amazon.com Inc and a second Order was issued against a company offline just 2 weeks after the first Order.
Although the Section 337 and GEO only apply in US market, the GEO may also be the main reason for online e-commerce platform to remove the listing of infringing products to avoid legal issues.
How Print-Rite deals with 337 case and GEO
Print-Rite respects intellectual property. We take necessary steps to make sure our consumables are IP safe.
Some famous Print-Rite IP safe designs are:
|IP safe solution||Related cases||GEO start date|
|Print-Rite “No Twist” design||337-829||41426|
|Print-Rite “PR2 Gear” design||337-918||42248|
Sometimes US Customs may hold our products for GEO inspection. Print-Rite experienced this in Mar 2016. The US Customs suspected that our products had violated the 337-TA-918 GEO. Print-Rite responded quickly by providing various supporting documents requested by the US Customs, the documents successfully prove that Print-Rite products are not in violation of the GEO, and the US customs released the products immediately. The issue was solved within 3 weeks.
To help both US Customs and customers to identity the Print-Rite’s IP safe product easily, we register our trademarks for these IP safe designs and place them on our product packaging which help minimize inspection time at US Customs ensure the product can reach our customer on time.