Under a pilot program initiated in 2013, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) may designate an investigation for early disposition if it believes that there is a potentially case-dispositive issue warranting the program’s speedy (100-day) treatment. Since the program’s inception, the ITC has employed it sparingly, with only a handful of investigations garnering entry into the program. Indeed, in the last three months of 2017, the ITC issued orders denying requests for entry into the early disposition program in four separate investigations (see our prior posts here and here).
On January 17, 2018, however, the ITC’s Notice of Institution designated Certain IOT Devices and Components Thereof (IOT, The Internet of Things)—Web Applications Displayed On A Browser, Inv. No. 337-TA-1094 for early disposition, just the sixth such designation the ITC has made since the program was implemented. The designated issue is “whether the complainant has satisfied the domestic industry requirement.” Chairman Schmidtlein filed a Memorandum indicating she did not support the use of the early disposition program in this investigation because it would impose unwarranted costs given that any decision “is likely to come after March 5, 2018,” which, the respondents contend, is the patent-in-suit’s expiration date. The presiding Administrative Law Judge subsequently scheduled a hearing for March 14-15, 2018 and has set a May 2, 2018 deadline for his decision.