proposed rules
Subscribe to proposed rules's Posts

International Trade Commission Seeks Feedback on Proposed Updates to Practice and Procedure

The US International Trade Commission issued a Federal Register notice of proposed rulemaking related to 19 C.F.R. Parts 201, 205, 207 and 210, which govern the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Commission seeks feedback by May 20, 2024. Proposed Rules, 89 Fed. Reg. 61, 22012-39 (Mar. 28, 2024).

The notice specifies that the “amendments are necessary to make certain technical corrections, to clarify certain provisions, to harmonize different parts of the Commission’s rules, and to address concerns that have arisen in Commission practice.” The proposed amendments are intended to “facilitate compliance with the Commission’s Rules and improve the administration of agency proceedings.”

Proposed global updates to the rules include the replacement of gender-specific language with gender-neutral terminology. The Commission’s proposals also include permanent adoption of the rules related to filing electronic (in lieu of paper) copies of documents, which were put in place as a temporary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the global measures, the Commission proposes specific changes to the procedures associated with commencement of investigations and the discovery process during an investigation. With respect to commencement of investigations, the Commission proposes the following changes:

  • Amending 210.8(c) to allow members of the public, interested government agencies or proposed respondents to file comments that address not only the public interest but also other issues in response to a complaint filed with the Commission
  • Amending 210.12(a)(8)(i) to require alleging specific facts that show the existence of each element of the cause of action underlying complaints based on an unfair act or method of competition under § 337(a)(1)(A)
  • Adding a new mechanism to 210.14(g) that allows the Chief Administrative Llaw Judge to consolidate investigations that are before different administrative law judges

The notice also proposes updates to the discovery process that are largely designed to conform the Commission’s rules to those found in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Such changes include:

  • Aligning the scope of discovery found in 210.27 with that of Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 26. In particular, the proposed changes include deleting the reference to information that “appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence” and inserting language emphasizing that discovery must be proportional to the needs of the investigation.
  • Updating 210.28, which governs the procedures and limits associated with depositions. Proposed updates include adding language that clarifies that third-party depositions count toward a party group’s overall deposition limit, changing the number of depositions a complainant may take from five fact depositions per respondent to 20 total fact depositions, and limiting deposition time to one day of seven hours per witness (which may be altered upon agreement of the parties or order of the presiding administrative law judge).
  • Adding a clarification to 210.30, which governs the production of documents, to conform with Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 34 by requiring that if a party is withholding documents based on an objection, it must affirmatively state that it is doing so.
  • Codifying 210.32 to provide that the administrative law judge, [...]

    Continue Reading

read more

PTO Proposes Rules Promoting Independence in Board Decision-Making

Seeking to bolster the independence of administrative patent judge (APJ) panels when issuing decisions and increase transparency regarding Patent Trial & Appeal Board processes, the US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking concerning the pre-issuance internal circulation and review of decisions. Rules Governing Pre-Issuance Internal Circulation and Review of Decisions Within the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, 88 Fed. Reg. 69578 (Oct. 6, 2023)

The proposed rules were developed in response to a July 2022 request for comments and would refine and codify interim processes and standards that have been in place since May 2022. If adopted, the proposed rules would be codified as Section 43 in Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations (37 C.F.R. §§ 43.1-43.6) relating to Board proceedings pending under 37 C.F.R. §§ 41 and 42.

Under the rules in newly proposed §§ 43.3 and 43.4, prior to issuance of a decision by the panel, senior PTO management and non-management APJs at the PTO (as defined in § 43.2) would be barred from communicating, directly or through intermediaries, with any panel member (unless they were themselves panel members) regarding the decision. Limited communications would be permitted for procedural status and generally applicable paneling guidance that don’t directly or otherwise influence the paneling or repaneling of any specific proceeding. The proposed rules would not forbid a panel member from requesting input on a decision prior to issuance from non-panel senior APJs, however. The proposed rules would stipulate that it is within the panel’s sole discretion to adopt any edits, suggestions or feedback from non-panel APJs.

The proposed rules substantially follow the interim processes in place except for a change regarding pre-issuance circulation of decisions to a pool of non-management APJs, known as the circulation judge pool (CPJ). Under the interim process, certain categories of Board decisions are required to be circulated to the CPJ prior to issuance. Those decisions include all America Invents Act (AIA) institution decisions, AIA final written decisions, AIA decisions on rehearing, inter partes reexamination appeal decisions, designated categories of ex parte appeals, ex parte reexamination appeals and reissue appeal decisions and all Board decisions (including AIA and ex parte appeal decisions) following a remand from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Under the proposed rules, circulation to the CJP would be optional.

The PTO will accept comments until December 5, 2023, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

read more