December 29, 2004
News Release 04-132
Inv. No. 337-TA-528

ITC INSTITUTES SECTION 337 INVESTIGATION ON CERTAIN FOAM MASKING TAPE

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted to institute an investigation of certain foam masking tape. The product at issue in this investigation is masking tape used primarily by auto body shops prior to painting in order to cover gaps around automobile doors, hoods and trunks, thus protecting against intrusion of paint.

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by 3M Company and 3M Innovative Properties Company of St. Paul, MN, and Mr. Jean Silvestre of Belgium on November 24, 2004, alleging violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain foam masking tape that infringes patents owned by the complainants. An amended complaint was filed on December 13, 2004. The complainants request that the ITC issue a permanent general exclusion order and permanent cease and desist orders.

The ITC has identified the following as respondents in this investigation:

By instituting this investigation (337-TA-528), the ITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case. The case will be referred to the Honorable Charles E. Bullock, an ITC administrative law judge, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. Judge Bullock will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission.

The ITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time. Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the ITC will set a target date for completing the investigation. ITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the President of the United States within that 60-day period.

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