United States - Imports of Certain Automotive Spring Assemblies
US Spring Assemblies (Source: GATT Analytical Index)
Products at Issue
|Products at issue||
Automotive spring assemblies
|Type of product||
Vehicles, aircraft, vessels
Key legal aspects
|Other members||D. M. McPhail (Hong Kong), Haron Siraj (Malaysia), Harry Reed (United Kingdom)|
|Legal basis at issue||
|Claims at issue||
|Defences at issue||
|No of Pages (total / legal reasoning)||19|
|Request for consultations|
|Request for establishment|
|Adoption of report|
|Outcome of the proceedings||
|Additional Info||L/5333 (11/06/1982) United States - Imports of Certain Automotive Spring Assemblies - Report of the Panel: The Panel was established to examine the exclusion of imports of certain automotive spring assemblies by the United States under Section 337 of the US Tariff Act of 1930 in cases of alleged patent infringement. The provisions of the GATT considered to be relevant by the Panel were Articles II:1(b), III:1, 2 and 4, XI:1 and XX(d). Looking first at the preamble of Article XX, the Panel noted that the exclusion order was directed against imports of certain automotive spring assemblies produced in violation of a valid US patent from all foreign sources, and not just from Canada, and was therefore "not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination against countries where the same conditions prevail". The Panel also noted that, before an exclusion order could be issued, both the validity of a patent and its infringement by a foreign manufacturer had to be clearly established, and that it would not prohibit the importation of automotive spring assemblies produced by any producer outside the United States who had a licence from Kuhlman Co. Consequently, the exclusion order had not been applied in a manner which constituted a disguised restriction on international trade. Turning to Article XX(d), the Panel found that US civil court action would not have provided a satisfactory and effective means of protecting Kuhlman's patent rights, and the only way in which this right could be effectively protected against the importation of the infringing product would be to resort to the exclusion order procedure. Therefore, the exclusion order issued by the ITC under Section 337 was "necessary" in the sense of Article XX(d) to prevent the importation and sale of automotive spring assemblies infringing the patent. Since Article XX(d) had been found to apply, the Panel considered that an examination of the United States action in the light of the other GATT provisions was not required.
Under its terms of reference, the Panel was also required to include in its examination "the issue of the use of Section 337 by the United States in cases of alleged patent infringement". The Panel did not exclude the strong possibility that there might be cases where a procedure before a US court might provide the patent holder with an equally satisfactory and effective remedy against infringement of his patent rights. In such cases the use of an exclusion order under Section 337 might not be necessary in terms of Article XX(d) and would be subject to the other relevant GATT provisions. The Panel further outlined certain elements that appeared to be out of place in legislation used for the protection of private patent rights, such as the use of the terms "unfair methods of competition and unfair acts" or the reference to substantial injury to a US industry.
SCM/W/48 (11/05/1983) Negotiating History of Article 18.9 and the Treatment of Reports of Working Parties and Panels under Article XXIII of the General Agreement - SCM Committee - Factual Note by the Secretariat: reported as an Article XXIII complaint, noting that the "Panel report found no violation of GATT provisions".