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About the U.S. International Trade Commission

The U.S. International Trade Commission is the forum in which all section 337 proceedings are initiated, adjudicated, and finally decided.  The ITC is an independent, nonpartisan federal administrative agency, not a court; yet it performs quasi-judicial, quasi-legislative, and quasi-executive functions in the course of adjudicating cases involving alleged infringement by imports of intellectual property rights.


In section 337 proceedings, administrative law judges conduct formal trial-type hearings under rules of procedure and practice consistent with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; Commissioners sit as an administrative review board with final decision-making authority.


Organizationally, the ITC is headed by six Commissioners who are each appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate and who serve nine-year terms. Not more than three Commissioners can be affiliated with the same political party, and the Chairperson of the ITC alternates every two years between Commissioners of different parties, by selection by the President


Formal section 337 investigations are instituted by a majority or tie vote of the Commissioners.  The case is then assigned to an administrative law judge at the ITC for hearing and an initial determination on the violation issue.  The ALJ’s initial determination stands as the final order of the ITC unless, on the vote of at least one Commissioner within 60 days, it is directed for review by the Commissioners, who must then issue a final determination.  Each Commissioner has the assistance of at least one attorney-advisor on staff, as well as an attorney assigned to the investigation by the General Counsel’s Office.