Articles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

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In its tax return for the year 1997, ConEd claimed multiple deductions pertaining to a lease-in/lease-out (LILO) tax shelter transaction under which a Dutch utility, EZH, a tax-indifferent entity because it is not subject to U.S. taxation, conveyed to ConEd a gas-fired cogeneration plant that delivers power to customers in the Netherlands, then leased it back, followed by a reconveyance to EZH and a sublease. The stated purpose of the arrangement was tax avoidance. LILO transactions accelerate losses to the taxpayer and defer gains. The transaction provided several upfront deductions that allowed ConEd to pay lower taxes in 1997 (and in later years) than it otherwise would have. The IRS disallowed these claimed deductions and assessed a deficiency of $328,066. ConEd paid the deficiency and filed a refund claim; when this claim was denied, ConEd filed suit. The Claims Court awarded ConEd a full refund. The Federal Circuit reversed, applying the substance-over-form doctrine to conclude that ConEd’s claimed deductions must be disallowed. There was a reasonable likelihood that EZH would exercise its purchase option at the conclusion of the ConEd sublease, thus rendering the master lease illusory. View "Consol. Edison Co. of NY v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Tariff Act of 1930 provides for two types of duties on imports that injure domestic industries: antidumping duties on goods sold in the U.S. at less than fair value, 19 U.S.C. 1673, and countervailing duties to offset subsidies on goods from a foreign government (1671(a)). In the case of goods exported from market economy countries (non-NME countries), both antidumping and countervailing duties may be imposed. The U.S. Court of International Trade ordered the Department of Commerce not to impose countervailing duties on goods from China, a NME country. The Trade Court held that Commerce's 2007 interpretation of countervailing duty law as permitting the imposition of such duties was unreasonable because of the high likelihood of double counting when both countervailing duties and antidumping duties are assessed against goods from NME countries. The Federal Circuit affirmed on different grounds. In amending and reenacting countervailing duty law in 1988 and 1994, Congress legislatively ratified earlier consistent administrative and judicial interpretations that government payments cannot be characterized as subsidies in a NME context, therefore countervailing duty law does not apply to NME countries. View "GPX Int'l Tire Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law

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A 2007 patent litigation settlement agreement included a covenant not to sue that stated that it applied to customers of the defendants, who were intended beneficiaries, and a governing law/venue provision specifying New Mexico. In September 2010, plaintiff filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission alleging infringement by defendant and its U.S. distributors and filed a complaint in the Northern District of California alleging infringement of the same two patents, which issued after the settlement agreement but are continuations depending from the applications that were at issue in the settlement. The New Mexico district court entered a preliminary injunction, enforcing the forum selection clause. Plaintiff dismissed its ITC and California claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed the entry of the injunction; the issues relate to and arise out of the settlement agreement district court correctly applied the factors of irreparable harm, balance of hardships, and public interest. View "Gen. Protecht Grp., Inc. v. Leviton Mfg. Co." on Justia Law

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In November 2001, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued an anti-dumping duty order on certain hot-rolled carbon steel flat products from Thailand, found that the company was selling the subject merchandise at less than normal value and assigned a dumping margin of 3.86%. In 2006 the order was partially revoked, as to the company, but remained in effect with respect to other exporters and producers. Commerce received a complaint that dumping had resumed and initiated changed circumstances review (CCR), despite the company's assertion that it lacked authority to so. The Court of International Trade (CIT) dismissed the company's suit for an injunction in 2009. Commerce reinstated the order with respect to the company; CIT affirmed. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that Commerce reasonably interpreted and acted on its revocation and CCR authority under 19 U.S.C. 1675(b, d) as permitting conditional revocation and reconsideration. View "Sahaviriya Steel Ind. Public Co.Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The company filed a claim under the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. 1337, asserting infringement of its patents on microchip encapsulation innovations. The ITC found no violation. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supported the finding of no infringement of one patent by 17 of 18 defendants. The court also affirmed the ITC's determination that the patent was not anticipated and its finding of patent exhaustion with respect to the eighteenth defendant. The claims with respect to other patents, which have expired, are moot.

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In 2003 the Department of Commerce, responding to a petition by the domestic wheat industry, found that Canadian wheat had been sold in the United States at less than fair value and issued an anti-dumping order. A North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) binational panel remanded and Commerce found that the dumping had not materially injured the domestic industry. The NAFTA panel affirmed. Revocation of the anti-dumping order stated ârevocation does not affect the liquidation of entries made prior to January 2, 2006â and instructed Customs to liquidate earlier entries at the rate in effect at the time of entry. The Trade Court granted an injunction against liquidation of those duties and held that the Canadian Wheat Board was entitled to return of deposited unliquidated anti-dumping duties. The Federal Circuit affirmed, first holding that the Trade Court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581. The case did not involve unauthorized review of a NAFTA panel decision, but Commerce's implementation of the decision. Characterizing the decision to not return anti-dumping duties as "bizarre and unfair," the court stated that retaining the duties cannot be valid if the underlying order is invalid. Return of the duties does not constitute a retroactive remedy.

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The Department of Commerce has employed a technique known as "zeroing" when it investigates a claim that a foreign producer is "dumping" products in the United States at a price below the price in the country of origin. Using zeroing, margins for sales of merchandise sold by a particular exporter at dumped prices are aggregated and margins for sales at non-dumped prices are given a value of zero; the alternative, known as "offsetting," involves aggregating both dumped and non-dumped prices. The statute, 19 U.S.C. 1677(35)(A), refers to calculation of a "dumping margin" equal to "the amount by which the normal value exceeds the export price." Domestic producers read the word "exceeds" as requiring zeroing. The Federal Circuit has previously upheld use of zeroing in both investigation and administrative review. Following a World Trade Organization decision disapproving the practice, the Department began using offsetting for investigations and zeroing in administrative review. The Court of International Trade upheld the practice. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that the Department had not adequately justified use of two different interpretations of an ambiguous statute.

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The company imports components for home storage and organization systems. The U.S. Customs Service liquidated wall panels and locator tabs as "other articles of plastic" rather than as furniture. The company filed protests and requested that the parts be reclassified under duty free provisions. Customs denied the protests. The Court of International Trade ruled in favor of Customs. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded. While the lower court examined appropriate authority in defining "unit furniture," it incorrectly determined that a storage panel with hooks was like a wall rack rather than furniture. Noting the various accessories and configurations available with the system, the court stated that the product's versatility is the "very essence of unit furniture."