Amendment to 271(g)

35 U.S.C. 271(g) makes clear that importation of a product that is made by a patented process is infringement. However, the statute includes limitations that the “product” is no longer infringing if it is either “materially changed by subsequent processes” or is “a trivial and nonessential component of another product.”

KinikKinik v. ITC: In 2004, the Federal Circuit determined that the language of 271(g) does not apply to Section 337 * actions at the ITC. [Opinion]  In that decision, court noted that the statute explicitly limits itself “for the purposes of this title.”

Thus, when a defendant is accused of improper imports under Section 337, he cannot raise the defenses of material change by subsequent processes or trivial component.

Amendment: Now, there is a movement afoot to change this aspect of the law, striking words that limit those defenses to actions under the Patent Act so that they could be applied with equal force at the ITC.

* Section 337: The Tariff Act of 1930 allows administrative relief through the International Trade Commission (ITC) to determine whether there is unfair competition in the importation of products into the US. Section 337 of the act makes infringement of a US patent an unlawful practice in import trade.  ITC actions are extremely fast as compared to traditional patent infringement suits and are often the best way to stop an infringing importer.