Supreme Court Vacates Federal Circuit's Decision on Jurisdiction, Merits of ITC Case

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By Tony Dutra  

April 21 — The U.S. Supreme Court granted a cert petition, vacated the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and remanded with instructions to dismiss as moot an appeal of an International Trade Commission investigation, in LG Elecs., Inc. v. InterDigital Commc'ns, LLC.

After the petition was filed, InterDigital Communications LLC, owner of several patents (U.S. Patent Nos. 7,349,540; 7,502,406; 7,536,013; 7,616,970; 7,706,332; 7,706,830; and 7,970,127) related to 2G and 3G wireless standards and the original ITC petitioner, withdrew its complaint against LG Electronics Inc., Huawei Technologies Co., Nokia Corp. and ZTE Corp.

The only remaining question as to the cert petition, then, was whether it should be denied—leaving the Federal Circuit's opinion intact—or whether the opinion should be vacated. The high court ignored the government's request that the petition be denied.

Question Whether Arbitration Clause Rules

The issue in the case involved LG's argument that its 3G products were still covered by a license and thus that its dispute with InterDigital was subject to arbitration. The ITC granted LG's motion to terminate its part of the investigation, but the appeals court reversed in a 2-1 decision. InterDigital Commc'ns LLC v. Int'l Trade Comm'n, 718 F.3d 1336, 2013 BL 150614, 107 U.S.P.Q.2d 1246 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

The court was split on whether it had jurisdiction to hear the appeal. The majority relied on the court's precedents while the dissent focused on the language of the relevant provisions of Section 337 of the Tariff Act, 19 U.S.C. §1337.

As to the merits, the Federal Circuit panel was unanimous in concluding that the ITC improperly terminated the investigation because LG's argument for why the arbitration clause should be honored was “wholly groundless.”

The Office of the Solicitor General filed a response in opposition on March 19, asking the Supreme Court to deny the petition because the issues were not cert-worthy.

“Although the Federal Circuit erred both in asserting jurisdiction and in its decision on the merits, those errors were not of sufficient legal or practical importance to warrant this Court's review,” according to the brief.

The government, however, said that if the high court did grant the petition, it should be for the purpose of vacating the opinion. The Supreme Court obliged as to that alternative.

Roy T. Englert Jr. of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP in Washington represented LG. Richard P. Bress of Latham & Watkins LLP in Washington represented InterDigital.


To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Dutra in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Naresh Sritharan at

LG Electronics petition is available at

ITC response is available at

LG reply is available at

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