The ITC does not have jurisdiction over digital data transmitted into the United States from abroad, according to a recent Federal Circuit ruling related to 3D printing.

On November 10, 2015, in a decision that could have a significant impact on the 3D printing and other industries, the Federal Circuit held in ClearCorrect Operating LLC v. Intl Trade Comm’n , No. 2014- 1527 (Fed. Cir., Nov. 10, 2015), that the International Trade Commission lacked jurisdiction over the electronic transmission of digital data. Writing for the panel in a 2-1 decision, Chief Judge Prost held that U.S.C. section 1337(a) gives the ITC jurisdiction only over unfair acts involving the importation of “articles,” which the Federal Circuit interpreted to mean “material things.” The court found that the ITC lacked jurisdiction over cross-border transmissions of digital data because digital data is not a “material thing.”

The Federal Circuit’s ruling overturned the underlying Commission opinion, which held that 19 U.S.C. section 1337(a) confers to the Commission jurisdiction over “all possible forms of infringement,”including jurisdiction over infringing electronic transmissions of digital data. Because the literal text of U.S.C. section 1337(a), when viewed in the context of the Tariff Act, is clear as to the meaning of the term “articles,” the Federal Circuit found that the Commission’s interpretation of its own jurisdictional reach was not entitled to deference under Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984).
Continue Reading Federal Circuit’s ClearCorrect ruling impacts ITC ability to police 3D printing and other disputes involving digital data transmission