Fish & Richardson Secures Rare Win in ITC Trade Secrets Case

Fish & Richardson has helped three China-based manufacturers and sellers of commercial catering equipment secure a rare victory in an International Trade Commission investigation brought against them. On October 14, 2021, the ITC voted to affirm that no violation of Section 337 occurred and to terminate the investigation. The ITC held that the complainants had failed to show substantial injury to a domestic industry. Because the complainants' failure to show substantial injury to a domestic industry was a dispositive issue that terminated the investigation, the ITC took no position on the trade secrets issues under review, and such issues are not subject to any appeal of the ITC's decision. The ITC otherwise adopted a finding of no tortious interference with contractual relationships.

"We're grateful for this important and decisive ruling," said Fish Litigation Practice Group Leader Kurt Glitzenstein, who led the case.

Fish represented Guangzhou Rebenet Catering Equipment Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Guangzhou Liangsheng Trading Co., Ltd., and Aceplus International Limited. The investigation against them was initiated by the specialty product conglomerate Illinois Tool Works Inc. and its manufacturing subsidiary based in Guangzhou, China. They alleged misappropriation of trade secrets related to commercial food service equipment, as well as tortious interference with contractual relationships. The complainants sought a limited exclusion order at the ITC to bar the importation of Rebenet's products into the United States.

"This case is an extension of our longtime work defending the intellectual property rights of Chinese companies in the U.S. and other jurisdictions," added Ryan McCarthy, a principal at Fish and the chief representative in the firm's Shenzhen, China office. Fish regularly secures patent and trademark protection for Chinese companies in the U.S. and Europe; it also represents them in federal district and appellate courts, at the ITC, and before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. In 2019, Fish opened a representative office in Shenzhen to better support its clients in the region.

The ITC case was In the Matter of Certain Foodservice Equipment and Components Thereof, 337-TA-1166. In addition to Glitzenstein, the Fish team included principals Brian Boyd, Kevin Su, andLinhong Zhang, as well as associates Charles Reese, Liz Ranks, Autumn Wu, and Eric Peng, Ph.D.