United States: ITC Commissioners Split On The Right Approach To Issuance Of Cease And Desist Orders

The United States International Trade Commission ("ITC" or "Commission") has historically utilized a cease and desist order ("CDO") if a complainant successfully proved that a respondent possessed a commercially significant inventory of infringing goods in the United States. However, in a recent opinion (Certain Dental Implants, Inv. No. 337-TA-934), the Commission found itself divided on the proper boundaries of this remedy and the required burden of proof. As a result, the Commission did not issue a CDO against the respondent, and more importantly, a remedy that was long considered settled and routine is anything but.

Cease and Desist Orders

ITC statute 19 U.S.C. § 1337 ("Section 337") provides that the Commission may issue a CDO as a remedy for violation. 19 U.S.C. § 1337(f)(1). CDOs target domestic respondents with a commercially viable inventory of infringing products located in the United States. These orders generally proscribe the further marketing, sale, or distribution of infringing articles already inside the United States at the time a violation was found. They also provide for civil penalties of up to $100,000, or twice the value of the infringing articles, for each day the respondent is in violation of the order. Penalties may be recovered by filing a civil action in federal district court, which can also order mandatory injunctions incorporating the relief sought by the Commission.

Notably, the statute uses the discretionary language ("may issue"), in contrast with the compulsory language ("shall ... be excluded") used in describing the Commission's authority related to exclusion orders. Compare id., with 19 U.S.C. § 1337(d)(1). In past investigations, the Commission indicated it issues "cease and desist orders where 'commercially significant' inventories of infringing products are present in the United State[s], and complainants bear the burden of proving that respondent has such an inventory." See, e.g., Certain Integrated Repeaters, Switches, Transceivers, and Products Containing Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-435, Comm'n Op. at 27 (Public Ver.) (Aug. 16, 2002).

The Case

On October 27, 2014, based on a complaint filed by Nobel Biocare Services AG and Nobel Biocare USA, LLC, the ITC instituted Investigation No. 337-TA-934 to determine whether there was a violation of Section 337 with respect to the importation of dental implants that allegedly infringe U.S. Patent Nos. 8,714,977 and 8,764,443. On October 27, 2015, the administrative law judge ("ALJ") issued his final initial determination ("Final ID"), finding a violation of Section 337 with respect to some of the asserted claims. On November 10, 2015, the ALJ issued a recommended determination ("RD") on remedy and bonding. The ALJ recommended in his RD that the appropriate remedy should be a limited exclusion order ("LEO") barring entry of respondents' infringing dental implants. The ALJ did not recommend issuance of CDOs against any respondent.

In its Opinion issued on May 11, 2016, the Commission affirmed the Final ID's findings of violation of Section 337, determined to issue an LEO covering infringing imported dental implants, and decided not to issue a CDO "because the Commissioners are divided 3-3 on whether a cease and desist order is appropriate." Certain Dental Implants, Inv. No. 337-TA-934, Comm'n Op. at 49 (Public Ver.) (May 11, 2016).

Remarkably, the Opinion contains several long footnotes describing the views of several commissioners and is further supplemented with two additional documents—"Additional Views of Chairman Broadbent, Vice Chairman Pinkert and Commissioners Williamson and Johanson" and "Additional Views of Commissioner Kieff"—all on the topic of CDOs in this Investigation and in the ITC practice generally.

Vice Chairman Pinkert and Commissioners Williamson and Johanson found that a CDO was not appropriate. Id. at 49 n.30 and their Additional Views. They argued that despite a showing that commercially significant inventories of the accused products were present in the United States during the Investigation, based on depletion rate evidence submitted by respondent, domestic inventories of the accused products would have dropped below a commercially significant amount by the target date (the date the Commission set for completing the Investigation). Id. Accordingly, they found that complainant had failed to meet its burden of proof, and that the CDO should not be issued. Id.

Chairman Broadbent, Commissioner Schmidtlein, and Commissioner Kieff found that a CDO was appropriate. Id. at 49 n.31. Their analysis focused on the statute itself, finding that Section 337 does not require commercially significant domestic operations or inventories to issue a CDO. They further opined that the evidence of depletion rate submitted by respondent did not rebut the showing that commercially significant inventories were in the United States during the Investigation. Id. Commissioner Schmidtlein additionally emphasized that "the statutory language of section 337(f)(1) leaves it to the discretion of the Commission and does not establish any particular test or standard for issuing a cease and desist order aside from consideration of the public interest factors." Id. at 49 n.32. In her view, the fact that the domestic respondent maintained some inventory of accused product during the investigation provided a sufficient basis to issue a CDO. Id. In her opinion, the little harm in issuing a CDO without a commercially significant domestic inventory is outweighed by a risk of harm for the complainant if a CDO is not issued when "a commercially significant inventory actually exists at the time of the Commission's determination." Id.

Commissioner Kieff wrote separately to emphasize that both the Commission and the parties in this case would have benefitted from additional briefing to consider (i) if "the Commission has an established practice of issuing CDOs only when a respondent maintains a commercially significant inventory of infringing products in the United States," (ii) if "there is a presumption against the issuance of a CDO unless the patentee proves the existence of such inventory," and (iii) legal authority, burdens, and presumptions involved in resolving "a good faith dispute about the levels of infringing inventory in the United States." Certain Dental Implants, Inv. No. 337-TA-934, Comm'n Op. (Public Ver.), Additional Views of Commissioner Kieff (May 11, 2016). Using a risk allocation reasoning, and considering that "[a]n adjudicative-search for highly accurate decision-making about such inventory levels is expensive for all involved: the Commission and all parties," Commissioner Kieff concluded that "[w]here there is credible evidence in the record supporting good faith dispute about the levels of infringing inventory in the United States, the award of a CDO against the party whose particular actions have been adjudicated to be infringing, would provide helpful [certainty] to all involved." Id.


The Commission Opinion in Inv. No. 337-TA-934 raises questions regarding the ITC's precedent related to the issuance of CDOs, specifically with respect to a complainant's burden of proof and relevance of the size of respondent's inventory. The Commission is likely to dig deeper into the topic in future investigations and to further define the approach to issuing CDOs. It appears that some commissioners suggest an approach that does away with the complainant's burden of proof and associated review of the size of the inventory, and instead utilizes a rebuttable presumption of issuance of a CDO, at least when some domestic inventory existed during the investigation. Other commissioners appear to be of the view that a CDO should not issue where a respondent has shown that domestic inventories will be depleted below a significant level by the target date.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.