The US International Trade Commission (ITC) issued an order on November 12, 2019 banning the importation of refrigerator water filters that infringed patents owned by KX Technologies LLC and licensed to Electrolux Home Products, Inc. KX President Jerome Barrillon cited a recent study by the Association for Home Appliance Manufacturers, which concluded that “counterfeit refrigerator water filters pose a serious risk to consumer health and safety.”
The study revealed these counterfeit filters have “an overwhelming failure to remove harmful contaminants” that could harm the well-being of American consumers. To help stop the flow of counterfeit filters into the US, on June 8, 2018, KX joined Electrolux in filing a complaint requesting that the ITC investigate the importation of infringing water filters into the country.
Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 provides for the investigation of any unfair act in the importation of articles into the US, including the enforcement of intellectual property rights. If the ITC finds a violation of Section 337, it may issue (1) an exclusion order banning importation of the infringing goods and/or (2) a cease-and-desist order preventing the sale and distribution of the infringing goods, subject to severe civil penalties.
Because the infringing water filters were so numerous and the sources of the products were difficult or impossible to identify, the ITC issued a sweeping General Exclusion Order banning infringing water filters from any source, even if the party seeking to import the products was not specifically named in the investigation. The ITC also issued cease-and-desist orders preventing certain named parties from any commercial activity involving the infringing filters.