Merchant & Gould Adds New ITC-Specialized Litigation Group

Focuses on Section 337 disputes before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC),  responding to current business issues and expanding the national IP firm’s capabilities
December 06, 2021

Merchant & Gould is pleased to announce its new International Trade Commission (ITC) Group, specializing in Section 337 investigations before the ITC and expanding the firm’s capabilities at a critical time in our global economy.

The ITC Section 337 Investigations Group, which will sit within the firm’s Litigation Practice, serves all clients, regardless of industry, and handles both patent and non-patent issues (trademark, trade dress, false advertising and trade secrets) under Section 337.  As a global law firm that has focused exclusively on intellectual property work for more than 120 years, Merchant & Gould has deep experience that cuts across all technology fields and a historical understanding for how trade and intellectual property affect a company’s ability to innovate.  

Section 337 litigation is considered a specialty within the broader field of intellectual property and unfair competition litigation, encompassing all types of IP and unfair competition claims.  Cases typically blend traditional IP issues, such as patent, copyright, trademark infringement and trade secret misappropriation, with trial practice and administrative procedure -- requiring an interdisciplinary mix of IP law experience, litigation skills and regulatory proficiency, as well as economic and financial knowledge. 

“With the launch of the ITC Group and this additional niche, Merchant & Gould is increasing our existing IP capabilities in the ITC litigation space during an important shift in our global economy.  ITC investigations require a variety of IP specializations, and we have a deep team of IP all-stars who understand the complexity of this area, as we move into a more interconnected world,” said Christopher J. Leonard, Managing Director and CEO of Merchant & Gould.  “This distinctive insight and experience will be invaluable to our clients who are protecting their brands and businesses across the world, while balancing different trade issues.”  

Merchant & Gould’s D.C.-area office is well situated to lead this kind of work with local resources nearby and with a deep understanding for Section 337 investigations.  The firm’s specialized, ITC-focused D.C.-area team will steer the ITC Group, while working with attorneys across Merchant & Gould’s seven offices to tap into the firm’s diverse and global Litigation Practice.

According to Josh Hartman, who joined Merchant & Gould in September as a partner to lead the firm’s ITC Group, “The ITC has been extremely busy, and the trend is continuing with an increasing number of investigations and a greater variety of new complaints.  Relationships among the U.S. and other economies are growing tighter; and the COVID pandemic accelerated reliance on online marketplaces, increasing the risk of unfair competition from imports.  Products are also more and more complex, as innovation progresses; and with global supply chains, products are made through contributions from many places.  To protect intellectual property, businesses are looking outward, and that’s when Section 337 can provide solutions.”

Matters before the ITC are fast, complicated, and large in scale, involving different parties and technologies.  In fact, the quick pace includes discovery periods lasting three to five months; evidentiary hearings typically within eight to 10 months after complaint filings; and target dates for completion in 14 to 16 months. 

Josh added, “Fast action is critical in this part of the IP mix.  Thankfully, the rapid resolution in front of the ITC is also fast paced, bringing clients quick relief when it matters most. But you have to know how to navigate deep waters – almost like using a battleship as a speed boat.”

Merchant & Gould is planning a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) event regarding Section 337 in Spring 2022.  The topic, speakers, date and location (in-person vs. virtual) will be announced early next year.