Federal Circuit Affirms ITC Importation Ban Premised on Trade Secret Misappropriation in China


International Trade Commission (ITC) actions are virtually synonymous with patent litigation. When a company seeks to bar the importation of a competing product through the ITC, the grounds are almost always that the product infringes a U.S. patent.

But the ITC also can be a forum for trade secret actions, as was dramatically illustrated in the Federal Circuit's October 11, 2011, decision in Tianrui Group Ltd v. ITC.

In that action, the ITC barred the importation of a product after a Chinese company engaged in trade secret misappropriation in order to manufacture the product in mainland China. The plaintiff, a U.S. company, owned the trade secrets, and originally had disclosed them to a business partner in China. The defendant, a Chinese company, hired several employees from the business partner. Those employees then allegedly disclosed the U.S. company's trade secrets in order to make a competing product, which was the subject of the ITC complaint.

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