US CHINA TRADE WAR–CHINA STOCK MARKET CRASH, TRADE, IP/PATENT, SECURITIES

Zhengyang Gate from Qianmen Gate Tiananmen Square Beijing ChinaTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER JULY 30, 2015

Dear Friends,

Since the last blog post focused on trade policy and trade and customs issues, with extensive coverage of the Trade Promotion Authority fight in the US Congress, after addressing the trade area briefly, this blog post plays catch up and follows the other issues, products liability, patents/IP, antitrust and most important securities.

With the dramatic plunge in the Chinese stock market, there is real lesson to be learned from all the US securities cases reported in this blog against Chinese companies that have listed in the United States. There is a fundamental difference between the US and Chinese stock markets.

Best regards,

Bill Perry 

CHINA STOCK MARKET CRASH—WARNINGS FROM THE UNITED STATES

On July 27, 2015, both CNN and the Wall Street Journal reported a sharp drop in the Chinese stock market of 8.5%. This drop took place after a drop of 32% in the Shanghai exchange, wiping out almost $3 trillion in value. As CNN stated on July 27th:

China stocks drop 8.5% in massive rout…China’s Shanghai Composite index shed 8.5% on Monday, a bone-rattling decline that raises questions about the government’s ability to prevent a crash. Beijing managed to stabilize markets with a dramatic rescue in late June and early July, intervening in a number of ways to limit losses for investors.

But the rout has now resumed: Monday’s slump was the biggest daily percentage decline since 2007. The vast majority of companies listed in Shanghai, including many large state-owned firms, fell by the maximum daily limit of 10%. Losses in Shanghai, and on the smaller Shenzhen Composite index, accelerated into the close. Shenzhen, which is heavy on tech stocks, closed down 7%.

Investors are worried about a possible withdrawal of stock market support by Beijing, and signs of a sharper slowdown in China’s economy.

Industrial profit data released Monday indicate that factories in the world’s second-largest economy are losing momentum. Profits dropped 0.3% in June, compared to the same period last year, the government said.

On Friday, an early measure of China’s manufacturing activity for July came in below analyst expectations. The reading was the lowest in 15 months.

China’s stock markets have been extremely volatile this year. The first signs of trouble came in June, after the Shanghai Composite peaked at more than 5,100 points, a gain of roughly 150% over the previous 12 months. When the bubble burst, the index lost 32% of its value in just 18 trading sessions.

As the Wall Street Journal reported on the same day, “The combined value of China’s stock markets eclipses many of the world’s biggest exchanges…” In reporting the July 27th stock plunge in China, the Wall Street Journal also stated:

Chinese shares suffered their biggest one-day drop in over eight years, wiping out hundreds of billions of dollars of market value and calling into question the effectiveness of Beijing’s recent efforts to prop up the market. . . .

Traders and analysts listed several reasons for the sudden slide, which came amid relatively thin trading volumes. Some cited fears of the effect of an unwinding of heavy investor borrowing to buy shares, while others pointed to concern that the government could soon pull back on its recent attempts to underpin the market. . . . .

Monday’s big decline shows investors have become skeptical of the market and of the government’s ability to control it. The move fits with the history of the volatile Chinese market, where government-engineered bull markets have often ended with spectacular selloffs that left stocks languishing for years. . . .

“The cat is out of the bag when it comes to China, and the collapse in the stock market overnight has confirmed that Beijing’s stabilization polices are not working,” says David Madden, market analyst at brokerage IG. “I feel that confidence will be difficult to get back, no matter how much money they throw at it.” . . .

The market-rescue measures could mean more harm down the road, they say, by reinforcing the idea that the government will come to the rescue whenever there is a crisis, undermining the progress China has made in allowing more room for risk in its financial system. . . .

To put the Chinese stock market drop in perspective, in the Charts accompanying the Article, the Wall Street Journal reported that the New York Stock Exchange has a total value of $19.7 trillion with NASDAQ being $7.4 trillion for a total of $27.1 trillion. In contrast, the Wall Street Journal reported that the composite China Stock Exchange value is $14.2 trillion, but this includes the Hong Kong Exchange of $4 trillion, which is run by much stricter rules than Shanghai and Shenzhen. The Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges total $10.3 trillion, with the Shanghai stock exchange at $5.9 trillion and the Shenzhen stock exchange being $4.4 trillion. The $10.3 trillion dollar value, however, is still greater than the $5 trillion stock market of Japan and the $1.8 trillion of Germany.

With the 30 percent drop in the Chinese stock market since June, the loss in Chinese stock is about $3 trillion. This Chinese stock bubble is so big that it is very difficult for any government, even the Chinese government, to control the market. The United States faced this problem in 1929, which led to the Great Depression, and the Japanese government faced a stock market collapse in the early 1990s, which led to the lost decade. Stock market bubbles can get so large that no government can control the situation.

As Donald Straszheim, head of China research at New York-based Evercore ISI, a well- known US analyst on the Chinese stock market, recently stated, “The markets in China now are not really markets. They are government operations.”

Because of this problem, on July 27th it was widely reported that the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) has told the Chinese government that while interventions in the stock market in general are appropriate to prevent major disorder, prices should be allowed to settle through market forces.   Chinese officials reportedly assured the lender that the measures should be considered temporary. But that statement alone creates instability in the market because no one knows when the Chinese government will terminate the measures.

Before the IMF announcement, as reported in the Wall Street Journal on July 23, 2015, many US hedge fund managers, who had been bullish on China, have changed their story:

The world’s biggest hedge fund has turned on the world’s fastest-growing economy. Bridgewater Associates LP, one of Wall Street’s more out-spoken bulls on China, told investors this week that the country’s recent stock market rout will likely have broad, far reaching repercussions.

The fund’s executives once had been vocal advocates of China’s potential. But that was before panic in the country’s stock markets shaved a third of the value off Shanghai’s main index . . . “Our views about China have changed” Bridgewater’s billionaire founder, Raymond Dalio, wrote with colleagues in a note sent to clients earlier this week. “There are now no safe places to invest.” Bridgewater, which has $169 billion under management, is renowned for its ability to navigate global economic trends . . . .

The move adds Mr. Dalio and Bridgewater to a growing chorus of high-profile investors who are challenging the long-held view that China’s rise will provide a ballast to a whole host of investments, from commodities to bonds to shares in multinational firms. . . . .

Kingdon Capital Management ILC, a nearly $3 billion New York hedge-fund firm, told clients this week it had sold all its shares in Chinese companies listed on the Hong Kong exchange. It said it was spooked by the fallout from a surge in China in the use of borrowed money to purchase stocks, particularly after authorities cracked down on the practice, helping drag down Kingdon’s investments.

The firm said it would wait until the level of such borrowing in the market drops further before going in anew.

The shifts by Kingdon and Bridgewater follow a series of concerns raised publicly last week about China by other high profile hedge-fund managers, including Elliott Management Corp. founder Paul Singer, Perry Capital LLC founder Richard Perry and Pershing Square Capital Management LP founder William Ackman. . . .

“It looks worse to me than 2007 in the United States,” Mr. Ackman said during an investment conference in New York, pointing to the unreliability of the government’s economic statistics. ”Much worse.”

But there is a more fundamental problem with the Chinese stock market. Before the recent crash there was already indications/warnings in this blog that the Chinese stock market could drop significantly. The warning/indication is the very significant number of private class action securities cases brought in the United States and cases brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) against Chinese companies that have listed their stock on US exchanges. In contrast to the Chinese system, the SEC’s job is not to pump up the US stock market and intervene in its actions. The SEC’s job is to protect the integrity of the market, which means that the earnings and statements of public companies must be accurate and truthful. This is important because real investments in stock of public companies require that the actual earnings and assets of the company be real, not fake.

The same could be said of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which in contrast to the in-China Exchanges, is heavily regulated by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (“SFC”). In contrast to China, this year the SFC is reporting another record year of investment in the fund management business and that the market growth since 1999 can be attributed to the “robust regulatory regime . . .[which] is fundamental to Hong Kong’s development as an international asset management centre. . .” and the SFC’s continued cooperation and work with international regulators. See http://www.secactions.com/sfc-reports-hong-kongs-growth-as-international-investment-hub/.

In contrast to the SEC and the SFC, however, the role of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, according to its spokesman Zhang Xiaojun, is to “continue efforts to stabilize market and investor sentiment, and prevent systemic risk.” The state-owned China Securities Finance Corp apparently has pledged to loan 21 Chinese securities firms about $42 billion to purchase shares. This reaction has left the Chinese government heavily invested in its own stock market. The China Securities Finance Corp had borrowed a stunning 1.22 trillion renminbi from commercial banks to buy stocks as of July 13, according to financial media Caixin, and is now one of the top 10 shareholders of many listed firms.

But the key economic criterion in judging the health of a stock market is valuation, which is comparing the earnings of various companies and their stock price. As Alex Frangos of the Wall Street Journal stated in an opinion piece on July 27th:

A main critique of the government’s plan is that it is simply unsustainable. Beijing may have hoped that it could prop up the market long enough for economic and earnings growth to catch up and make valuations more reasonable. . . .

And valuations are still extremely high. The overall Shanghai market trades at 15 times forward earnings, near its long-term average. Yet stripping out China’s banks, which investors have shunned for fear of hidden bad loans, ratios look much higher. The tech heavy Shenzhen market, for instance, traded at 31 times forward earnings, 65% above its historical average, before Monday’s fall. . . . It is clearly a dangerous game for investors to stick around in Chinese stocks while that happens.

Other Chinese stock experts have stated that price-to-earnings ratios in China — a measure that indicates whether a company is fairly valued — have been well over 100 this year, in the neighborhood of values on the NASDAQ when the U.S. dot-com bubble burst.

But the problem with that statement is that it assumes that the earnings stated by Chinese companies, in fact, are accurate. People can truly invest in stock with confidence only when they know that the company statistics are factual and true earnings of a company are available to the public.

I have one family member, who has done very well in the US stock market, buying Microsoft, for example, when it was a very young company, at $3 a share. But she charts stocks and uses graphs to determine the predicted earnings growth and compares the charts against the stock price to determine whether a company’s stock is undervalued or overvalued.

She started out in an investment club run by the National Association of Investment Clubs (“NAIC”). One can find their website at http://www.betterinvesting.org. The NAIC describes its fundamental principle of value investing, followed by such stock experts as Warren Buffet, as follows:

This is the Golden Rule for most investors who employ fundamental analysis and have a long term perspective. Buy stocks of high-quality companies at good prices and continue holding them as long as the companies’ performance merits doing so.

Sales drives earnings; earnings drives the stock price. That’s what it comes down to for fundamental investors. You might hear of different ways to buy and sell stocks, and countless books have touted systems that promise great returns. But over the long term fundamental analysis is what works in building wealth.

Fundamental analysis comes down to studying a company’s financial performance. Broadly, there are those who look for growth stocks and those who look for value equities, but the line between value and growth investing is gray: As Warren Buffett says, value and growth “are joined at the hip.”

Value investing, as practiced by Buffett and his mentor Benjamin Graham, is a time-tested method involving fundamental analysis that has served many investors well. But for the typical person . . . fundamental analysis focused on growth stocks might be more appropriate.

This is because individual investors can spot a good growth company quickly. . .

The Three Most Important Ideas:

Management, Management, Management

The individual investors who belong to Better Investing ask two questions when studying a stock:

  • Is this a well-managed company?
  • Is its stock reasonably priced?

 We seek great management because talented, capable executives know how to ensure their company thrives over the long term amid competitive battles and periodic downturns. These are the people, in other words, who are responsible for driving the sales and growth increases that fuel stock prices.

See http://www.betterinvesting.org/Public/SingleTabs/BI+Mag/Articles+Archives/0210publiccs.htm for more information.

But value investing is based on comparing actual company earnings to stock prices.

Although certain Chinese companies do not play with their earning and numbers, the number of securities cases in the United States against Chinese companies, which have listed in the United States, indicate that many do. When the faulty earnings are coupled with a Chinese government approach not to protect the integrity of the market but to simply puff up the market, bubbles are created, and when bubbles burst many individuals and companies are badly burned.

The difference between investing in the United States and investing in China is the difference between investing and gambling. In the United States, many analysts believe that the US stock market is not overvalued because the earnings to stock price do not indicate a vastly overpriced market. When I was in college, the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the New York Stock Exchange was at 700. It is now on July 27th at 17,440. What justifies that high stock average is not speculation or simply attempts by the US government to puff up the market, it is significantly increased earnings by US companies, but that means that the earnings reported by US public companies must be real and accurate.

In addition, when a professional gambler goes into the casinos in Las Vegas and Macau, he knows the odds/risks associated with each different gambling game and which game gives him the best chances of winning. So professional gamblers will often play blackjack or poker, because the odds are much better than with slot machines.

But in the Chinese stock market, one does not even know the odds of winning. In China, an investor does not have a government agency committed to making sure that the earnings and assets reported by a Chinese company are accurate. In fact, in China the actual earnings and assets of companies, especially state-owned companies, may be confidential available only to management and not to investors in the Chinese stock market.

As one Chinese stock analyst in Shanghai recently stated, the severity of an 8.5 percent drop in the Shanghai Composite Index is bad enough, but what angers him the most is not knowing why it tumbled so much. In a market where unprecedented intervention has made government money one of the biggest drivers of share prices, authorities are not transparent enough for investors to make informed decisions. Thus Chinese markets are not real markets; they are government gambling operations in which real corporate earnings are often confidential and not based on reality.

The Chinese stock market can only recover and become stable when the Government truly protects the integrity of the market by making sure that the earnings/numbers reported by Chinese companies that list on the markets are true and accurate.

For further information on this issue, please see article below on the Puda Coal case and the other US Securities cases filed against Chinese companies.

TRADE POLICY

The Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations are ongoing in Maui, Hawaii with 13 countries, including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Although Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will attend, the chance of actually sealing a final agreement is a long shot at best. Many issues need to be finalized including access to the Canadian Dairy and Poultry markets and to the Japanese rice market.

In addition to the Japanese Prime Minister, several US Senators and Representatives will be there, including Representative Rosa DeLauro, a staunch opponent of the agreement.

Although election year politics in 2016 are a concern in the US, the Canadian National Election is in this October of 2015 making it very difficult for the Canadian government to cave on dairy and poultry issues. Canadian officials along Congresswoman DeLauro are all arguing that the negotiations need to slow down. Congresswoman DeLauro has stated:

The administration has indicated they want to wrap up negotiations in this round. My colleagues and I are here to say that is altogether too fast a schedule. The agreement itself is riddled with problems. Congress, industry, advocates still have enormous concerns which the administration has done little or nothing to resolve.

But for Congress to vote on the Agreement before Christmas and 2016, an election year, the Agreement has to be completed by September or October at the latest. Paul Ryan has predicted a final agreement in late fall, which would be after the Canadian elections in mid-October.

TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL STILL AT THE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE STAGE

The new Trade and Customs Enforcement Bill, which was passed by both the House and Senate, is still at the Conference Committee stage to iron out the differences between the two bills. The Senate has appointed conferees- Senators Hatch, Cornyn, Thune, Isakson, Wyden, Schumer, and Stabenow.

On July 29, 2015, the House Ways and Means issued the attached Press Release, HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS TRADE CUSTOMS BILL, stating:

WASHINGTON, DCLast month, the House passed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, important legislation to update and strengthen the enforcement of our trade laws. This followed the passage of a Senate version of the bill in May. Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the following statement on the status of the legislation.

“Since the passage of customs and trade enforcement legislation in the House and Senate, work has taken place to resolve the differences between the two chambers’ bills. I am pleased that we have made significant progress, and I expect this will allow us to move to a formal conference committee soon after Congress returns from this district work period. I am confident the bill we send to the president will include important House priorities and provide the United States the enforcement tools needed to ensure American workers and businesses are competing on a level playing field.”

Effectively this means that the new Customs and Trade Enforcement bill will have to wait until after the August legislative recess.

TRADE

NEW STEEL CASE FILED

On July 28, 2015, a new steel case was filed against Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products from China, Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

In the attached Federal Register notice, ITC FED REG NOTICE COLD ROLLED STEEL, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) has set the preliminary injury conference on August 18. 2015.

The decision to bring the large antidumping and countervailing duty case coincided with U.S. Steel’s announcement that it had posted a $261 million net loss in the second quarter of 2015.

U.S. Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi stated:

“We’ve taken aggressive and decisive actions to address the extremely challenging conditions we continue to face in North America.  Our Carnegie Way efforts, combined with short-term cost improvements, have helped to partially offset the continued depressed volumes and low prices in both the tubular and flat-rolled markets as well as the negative impact of tremendously high levels of imports.”

COUNTRY DUMPING MARGINS ALLEGED

Brazil 50.07 – 59.74 percent

China 265.98 percent

India 42.28 percent

Japan 82.58 percent

South Korea 93.32 – 176.13 percent

Netherlands 47.36 – 136.46 percent

Russia 69.12 – 320.45 percent

United Kingdom 47.64 – 84.34 percent

See ITC announcement below:

Docket Number 3080

Received: 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Commodity: 

Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products

Investigation Number: 

701-TA-540-544 and 731-TA-1283-1290

Filed By: 

Alan H. Price; Jeffrey D. Gerrish; Roger B. Schagrin; R. Alan Luuberda; and Stephen A. Jones

Firm/Organization: 

Wiley Rein LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Schagrin Associates; Kelley Drye & Warren LLP; King & Spalding LLP

Behalf Of: 

AK Steel Corporation, Arcelor Mittal USA LLC, Nucor Corporation, Steel Dynamics Inc., and United States Steel Corporation

Country: 

Brazil, China, India, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Russia, and the United Kingdom

Description: 

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the imposition of countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Brazil, China, India, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

This is also why the Import Alliance for America is so important for US importers, US end user companies and also Chinese companies.  The real targets of antidumping and countervailing duty laws are not Chinese companies.  The real targets are US companies, which import products into the United States from China.

As mentioned in prior newsletters, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of US China Trade War and the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China for the benefit of US companies.

On September 18, 2013, ten US Importers agreed to form the Import Alliance for America.  The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.

See the Import Alliance website at http://www.importallianceforamerica.com.

We will be targeting two major issues—working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement for the benefit of importers and working against retroactive liability for US importers.  The United States is the only country that has retroactive liability for its importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

We are now in the process of trying to gather importers to meet with various Congressional trade staff as soon as possible to discuss these issues.  If you are interested, please contact the Import Alliance through its website or myself directly.

BUSINESS DEALS AND INVESTING IN IRAN?

Nelson Dong, Larry Ward, and Clint Foss of the Dorsey Export Controls/National Security Group have written an article on when sanctions might be lifted against Iran. The primary point they make is:

In the “best case” scenario, if all the involved governments approve the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] (“JCPA”), Iran cooperates, and the IAEA is eventually then able to establish the Implementation Day so that the European Union and the United States will then alter their respective sanctions regimes, what should the U.S. business community expect? Does this mean anything close to “business as usual” for U.S. exports and trade with, and investments in, Iran?

The short answer to this “what” question is “Absolutely not!” Careful and thoughtful strategic planners in U.S. companies need to be aware of the extremely limited effect that “lifting sanctions” will have for those U.S. companies after that Implementation Day.

See the full article at http://www.dorsey.com/eu-us-business-interests-2015-iran-nuclear-settlement (emphasis in the original).

CHINA ANTIDUMPING

On May 21, 2015, in the attached notice, US OPTICAL FIBER MOFCOM PRELIM, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) announced preliminary antidumping duties on imports of Optical Fiber Preform from Japan and the United States. The Antidumping rates are listed below:

Japanese companies:

1. Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd. 8.9%
2. Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. 7.8%

3. Fujikura Ltd. 8.3%

4. Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd. 8.3%

5. ALL Others 8.9%

U.S. companies:

  1. Corning Incorporated 39.0%
  2. OFS Fitel, LLC. 16.9%
  3. ALL Others 39.0%

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

MORE CASES AGAINST LUMBER LIQUIDATORS

The cases against Lumber Liquidators keep rolling on.

False Advertising and Consumer Protection

On May 29, 2015, Dennis Chapman filed the attached class action complaint  against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. CHAPMAN LUMBER LIQUIDATORS

On June 9, 2015, Melanie Jeffcoat filed the attached class action complaint against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. JEFFCOAT LUMBER LIQUIDATORS

On July 29, 2015, Laura Gonzalez filed the attached complaint, GONZALEZ LUMBER LIQUIDATORS, against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

NEW 337 COMPLAINTS

On June 12, 2015, a new 337 patent case was filed against Containers for Lip Balm. The ITC Notice is set forth below:

Received:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Commodity:

Lip Balm Products, Containers for Lip Balm

Investigation Number:

337-TA-961

Filed By:

Louis S. Mastriani

Firm/Organization:

Adduci, Mastriani and Schaumberg LLP

Behalf Of:

eos Products, LLC and The Kind Group LLC

Description:

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Lip Balm Products, Containers for Lip Balm, and Components Thereof. The proposed respondents are: OraLabs, Inc., Parker, CO; CVS Health Corporation, Woonsocket, RI; CVS Pharmacy, Inc., Woonsocket, RI; Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., Deerfield, IL; Walgreen Co., Deerfield, IL; Dollar Tree, Inc., Chesapeake, VA; Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., Chesapeake, VA; Five Below Inc., Philadelphia, PA; Wuxi Sunmart Science and Technology Co., Ltd., a/k/a Wuxi Sunmart Group Co., Ltd., a/k/a Wuxi Shengma Science & Technology Co., Ltd., China; and Wuxi Sunmart Plastic Co., Ltd., China.

PATENT AND OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CASES

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN COMPANIES

On June 5, 2015, Xerafy Ltd. filed the attached patent infringement complaint, ZHEJIANG PATENT CASE, against Sensestone Technologies Co., Ltd. and Zhejiang Jiakang Technologies Co., Ltd.

On June 10, 2015, Wenger SA filed the attached trademark infringement complaint, WENGER FUZHOU TMK COMPLAINT, against Fuzhou Hunter Product Import and Export Co., Swiss Digital USA, Krummholz International, Swissgear SARL, and Zhijian “Hunter” Li.

On June 19, 2015, Fellowship Filtering Technologies filed the attached patent complaint, BAIDU PATENT, against Baidu, Inc. Beijing Baidu Netcom Science & Technology Co. and Baidu USA LLC.

On July 1, 2015, Personalized Media Communications filed the attached patent complaint, TOP VICTORY, against Top Victory Electronics (Taiwan) Co. Ltd., TPV Int’l (USA), Inc., Envision Peripherals, Inc., Top Victory Electronics (Fujian) Co. Ltd., TPV Electronics (Fujian) Co. Ltd., TPV Technology Ltd. and Vizio, Inc.

On July 1, 2015, China International Marine Containers (Group) Ltd., Columbian Boiler Company LLC and Gaz Liquifieds Industrie filed the attached patent complaint, MARINE PATENT CASE, against Jiangzi Oxygen Plant Co., Ltd.

On July 14, 2015, Conair Corp and Babyliss Faco filed the attached patent complaint, CONAIR, against Taizhou Jinba Health Technology Co., Ltd.

ANTITRUST

There have been developments in the China antitrust area.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

T&D JULY REPORT

In early May and July T&D sent us their attached May and June reports on Chinese competition law. T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of May 2015 TD Monthly Antitrust Report of June 2015

SECURITIES

PUDA COAL

In light of the recent China stock market crash, it is informative to review the latest US developments in the Puda Coal case. In various newsletters and blog posts in 2013 and 2014, I reported complaints filed by the SEC and various Private parties in class action securities cases against Puda Coal, a Chinese company listed on the US Stock Exchange. Puda Coal defrauded investors by taking their one asset, a Chinese coal mine, and transferring a 49 percent stake in Shanxi Coal to a private equity fund controlled by state-owned firm CITIC Group, which then sold interests to Chinese investors. They took this action without notifying their US investors.

In April 2013, I reported a class action securities case was brought in the Federal Court in the Southern District of New York against Puda Coal Inc. and CITIC Trust Co., Ltd.  The complaint alleged that CITIC is “the largest Chinese private equity fund and merchant bank, which, by means of a transfer of 49% ownership interest and a 51 % pledge as security for a loan, now controls Puda’s sole operating subsidiary and its only source of revenues.”

The complaint further alleged that “this action arises from a fraudulent scheme in which Puda insiders improperly transferred the Company’s only revenue-producing, operating subsidiary to CITIC and then, with the assistance of CITIC, falsely portrayed to investors in Puda that the Company still possessed its operating subsidiary.”

In March of 2013 I sent out an article by our China office about the famous bench decision by the Delaware Court in In Re Puda Coal, Inc. Stockholders Litigation, C.A. No. 6476-CS (Del. Ch. Feb. 6, 2013). In that attached February 3, 2013 decision, PUDA COAL STRINE RULING DELAWARE, Chancellor Leo Strine, Jr., of the Delaware Court of Chancery refused to dismiss a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against independent directors of Puda Coal Inc., a Delaware corporation with primary assets and operations in China. Plaintiffs alleged that the independent directors “had failed to detect the unauthorized sale of the company’s assets by its chairman. “

In the opinion Chancellor Strine bluntly reminded independent directors that they must be capable of fulfilling their fiduciary duty of oversight, no matter where the company’s assets or operations are located. As Chancellor Strine stated in several quotes from the opinion:

“[I]f you’re going to have a company domiciled for purposes of its relations  with its investors in Delaware and the assets and operations of that company are situated in China … in order for you to meet your obligation of good  faith, you better have your physical body in China an awful lot. You better have in place a system of controls to make sure that you know that you  actually own the assets. You better have the language skills to navigate the environment in which the company is operating. You better have retained  accountants and lawyers who are fit to the task of maintaining a system of controls over a public company.”

“Independent directors who step into these situations involving essentially the fiduciary oversight of assets in other parts of the world have a duty not to be dummy directors … [I]f the assets are in Russia, if they’re in Nigeria,  if they’re in the Middle East, if they’re in China, that you’re not going to be able to sit in your home in the U.S. and do a conference call four times a  year and discharge your duty of loyalty. That won’t cut it.”

“There’s no such thing as being a dummy director in Delaware, a shill, someone who just puts themselves up and represents to the investing public that they’re a monitor.”

Strine also had a message for independent directors who, like the independent directors of Puda Coal, thought they could avoid responsibility by resigning. He suggested that the act of resignation itself could be a breach of fiduciary duty. “And that’s another reason for sustaining the complaint.”

The Puda Coal story continues, and on July 24, 2015, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) won a $250 million default judgment against two former executives of China-based Puda Coal Inc. for allegedly defrauding U.S. investors, after the defendants failed to appear in New York federal court to face the claims.

During a brief hearing in Manhattan court, Judge Denise Cote ordered former Puda Coal chairman Ming Zhao and CEO Liping Zhu to jointly pay $116 million in disgorgement and $17.6 million in prejudgment interest. The judge also ordered Zhao to pay a $116 million penalty and Zhu to pay a $1.2 million penalty.

In the February 2012 complaint, the SEC alleged that Zhao secretly transferred Puda Coal’s sole revenue-producing asset to himself and then sold a large portion to CITIC. Puda Coal then conducted two public offerings without telling U.S. investors that it was a shell company.

The SEC in its motion for a default judgment argued that the defendants’ refusal to face the allegations in New York “evinces a cavalier attitude toward these proceedings and the harm caused by their conduct.”

The SEC also said in its June 8 court filing that the scheme had caused U.S. investors to lose $499 million in market capitalization. “Here, defendants came into the U.S. public markets to raise capital for their coal mining venture and then absconded with the proceeds, leaving the shareholders of Puda with an empty shell,” the SEC wrote. “In short, they stole the coal company for their own purposes and fraudulently used the U.S. capital markets to finance their expansion plans.”

UPDATES ON US SECURITIES CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

Private securities class actions continue to plague Chinese companies whose securities are traded through American Depositary Shares (ADS’s) in the United States. Chinese companies frequently use ADS’s to trade their shares, which may involve fewer required disclosures than issuance of stocks in the United States. This practice does not immunize these companies from securities litigation, as illustrated by several recent noteworthy class actions.

  • Alibaba

The federal courts system recently centralized eight class actions against Alibaba, the largest e-commerce online service in China, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.[1] Alibaba entered the U.S. securities market last year amidst great fanfare, as the Alibaba IPO was reputedly the largest ever in the United States, raising $25 billion for the company, surpassing the previous record held by the Agricultural Bank of China.[2]

Having entered the U.S. market, the company found itself the target of class actions filed in federal courts in California and New York filed over the past several months. After hearing arguments from the litigants, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determined that centralization of the litigation in New York best served the interests of justice, citing the fact that the relevant documents and witnesses are available in New York.[3] Judge Colleen McMahon will preside over the cases.

The attached complaints, Khunt v Alibaba (SDNY) Klein v Alibaba (SDNY) Ziolkowski v Alibaba (SDNY) MING HUANG ALIBABA Rand v Alibaba (SDNY), generally allege that all purchasers of Alibaba ADS’s suffered harm from misstatements by the company. On Jauary 28, 2015, media outlets reported that the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, a Chinese regulator, had discussed with Alibaba some concerns over the company’s business practices in July 2014, prior to the IPO. The regulator allegedly discussed the use of Alibaba’s online services by some vendors to market counterfeit goods, among other alleged infractions. On January 29, Alibaba also reported earnings that were lower than previously expected. According to the complaints, these disclosures contributed to a sharp decline in share prices, which led to the lawsuits.

  • Xunlei

In an action filed in federal court in California, the plaintiff alleges that Xunlei, an internet platform for digital content in China, released misleading public statements that harmed investors in the company’s ADS’s that are traded on Nasdaq.[4] In this case, the plaintiff targets not only the Chinese firm, but also the U.S. financial companies that acted as underwriters for the company’s IPO. The complaint names J.P. Morgan Securities, Citigroup, and Oppenheimer as co-defendants.

The complaint alleges that the company’s registration statement filed in connection with the IPO contained misstatements. The allegations focus on the company’s efforts in developing a new product that would enable crowd sourcing of unused bandwith and data storage. The complaint alleges that the company failed to disclose in its prospectus the risks associated with that project, which contributed to lower earnings and lower share prices.

  • Yingli

Two class actions have been filed in federal court in California against Yingli Green Energy, a major producer of solar energy products in China.[5] Both complaints accuse Yingli of misstatements in its releases of quarterly and annual financial reports from March 2014 to March 2015. The allegations focus on a drop in the value of Yingli’s ADS’s on the New York Stock Exchange after the March 25, 2015 news release. The complaints allege that the company misrepresented its financial outlook in its earlier public statements.

Unlike the above cases alleging public misstatements in connection with ADS’s, a recent case in the District of Nevada takes issue with the fact that the company said nothing at all (i.e., “going dark”). The case against China Mining alleges that the company failed to make timely securities filings in the United States despite a contractual obligation to make such filings pursuant to an agreement in connection with the sales of over-the-counter securities. The complaint further alleges that the company’s principal used the proceeds of the sale for personal uses in breach of the agreement. The plaintiffs assert state-law contractual and fiduciary claims in addition to private claims for alleged securities fraud under federal law.

Besides private enforcement, federal regulators also have been busy prosecuting persons affiliated with Chinese interests. Here are some recent developments as reported by the blog post, “SEC Actions”:

  • Former Qualcomm Executive Sentenced For Insider Trading:

Jing Wang, a former Qualcomm Inc. Executive Vice President, began by constructing a cover-up. Then he engaged in insider trading, using inside information taken from his employer. The scheme failed. Mr. Wang has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and directed to pay a $500,000 fine after pleading guilty to securities fraud based on his insider trading, money laundering tied to his efforts to evade detection and admitted to obstruction. U.S. v. Wang, 3:13-cr-03487 (C.D. Calif. Filed Sept. 20, 2013).

(http://www.secactions.com/former-qualcomm-executive-sentenced-for-insider-trading/)

  • SEC Brings First Unregistered Broker Charges Based on EB-5 Program:

The EB-5 program was designed to create a path to becoming a permanent residence in the U.S. for certain immigrants while facilitating job creation in the United States. Initiated in 1990, the program gives a foreign applicant a path to permanent residency following an investment of $1 million, or $500,000 in a targeted employment area. The investment must be in a USCIS approved U.S. commercial enterprise, defined as any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business. The applicant obtains a conditional green card following the investment. It is good for two years. If the investment creates or preserves at least 10 full time jobs during the two year period the applicant may obtain a permanent green card.

While the program has been successful at spurring investment in the U.S. and giving applicants an opportunity to obtain a permanent green card, there have been difficulties. In the past the SEC has brought fraud actions based on the investment program. Now the Commission has brought its first action charging individuals with acting as unregistered brokers in connection with the EB-5 program. In the Matter of Ireeco, LLC, Adm. Proc. File No. 3-16647 (June 23, 2015).

See http://www.secactions.com/sec-brings-first-unregistered-broker-charges-based-on-eb-5-program/.

  • SEC Files Another Suspicious Trading Case:

Outsized trades continue to draw SEC scrutiny and enforcement actions – even where the agency does not have the evidence to fully plead a claim. Despite the difficulties of these so-called “suspicious” trading cases, in many instances the Commission is able to develop the evidence to support its allegations. In the meantime the trading profits are typically held in a frozen account.

SEC v. Luo, (S.D.N.Y. Filed June 23, 2014) is a “suspicious” trading case. The action centers on the buy-out announcement for Qihoo 360 Technology Co, Ltd, by its Chairman and CEO and a consortium of other affiliates, announced on June 17, 2015. Defendant Hijian Luo is a resident of Guangzhou, China. He is the CEO of 4399 Co., Ltd., an online game company that provides single, multiplayer and children’s games along with animation through the internet.

See http://www.secactions.com/sec-files-another-suspicious-trading-case/.

[1] O’Silva v. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., No. 15-05002 (N.D. Cal.); Ziolkowski v. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., No. 15-01405 (S.D.N.Y.); Chao v. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., No. 15-05020 (C.D. Cal.); Rand v. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., No. 15-00991 (S.D.N.Y.); Huang v. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., No. 15-04991 (C.D. Cal.); Klein v. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., No. 15-00811 (S.D.N.Y.); Khunt v. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., No. 15-00759 (S.D.N.Y.)

[2] R. Mac, Alibaba Claims Title for Largest Global IPO Ever with Extra Share Sales, Forbes, Sept. 22, 2014.

[3] Transfer Order, In re Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Sec. Litig., MDL No. 2631 (U.S. Jud. Panel on Multidistrict Litig. June 24, 2015).

[4] Keally v. Xunlei Ltd., No. 15-04524 (C.D. Cal.)

[5] Mangla v. Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., No. 15-04600 (C.D. Cal.); Knox v. Yingli Green Energy Holding Co., No. 15-04003 (C.D. Cal.).

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT

Recently, Dorsey& Whitney LLP issued its attached July 2015 Anti-Corruption Digest, Anti-Corruption-Digest-July2015.

NEW SEC, SECURITIES, AND COMMODITIES CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES FOR FRAUD

On May 28, 2015, Kevin T. Fox filed a class action securities action against Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd., Liansheng Miao, and Yiyu Wang in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Case No. 15-4003). Bhimsain Mangla filed a similar complaint in the same court on June 17, 2015 (Case No. 15-4600).  See attached complaints.  YINGLI SECURITIES MANGLA YINGLI COMPLAINT

On June 15, 2015, Doug Keally filed the attached class action securities complaint, XUNLEI SECURITIES ACTION, against Xunlei Ltd., Sean Shenglong Zou, Tao Shomas Wu, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., and Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Case No. 15-4524).

On June 16, 2015, Euro Pacific Capital, Inc. filed the attached complaint , SECURITIES GOING DARK CHINA MINING, on behalf of a large group of individual investors against U.S. China Mining Group, Inc. and Hongwen Li in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under the federal securities law and state contract and fiduciary law (Case No. 15-4636) because the company decided to go dark and delist from the US exchanges.

On June 23, 2015, Maverick Fund, L.D.C. filed the attached first thin film solar complaint, FIRST SOLAR THIN FILM, against First Solar Inc., Michael J. Ahearn, Robert J. Gilette, Mark R. Widmar, Jens Meyerhoff, James Zhu, Bruce Sohn, and David Eaglesham, alleging violations of federal securities law in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona (Case No. 15-1156).

On July 1, 2015, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed the attached complaint, KERING CAPITAL, against Yumin Li and Kering Capital Ltd. for violations of the Commodities Exchange Act

On July 6, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed the attached securities complaint, LUCA SECURITIES,  against Luca International Group, LLC, Luca Resources Group, Luca Energy Fund, LLC, Entholpy EMC, Inc., Bingqing Yang, Lei (Lily) Lei, Anthony Pollace, Yong (Micahael) Chen, Luca Operation LLC, Luca Barnet Shale Joint Venture, Luca to Kalon Energy LLC, Luca Oil, J&Q Int’l Trading, Inc., Skyline Trading LLC and Xiang Long Zh

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, trade adjustment assistance, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–REAGAN PREDICTED IT, TRADE, CUSTOMS, 337/PATENTS, US CHINA ANTITRUST, AND SECURITIES

Washington Monument After the Snow Washington DCJanuary 3, 2014

“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN , JUNE 28, 1986

Dear Friends,

There have been some major developments in the trade, Customs, patents, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

In looking at the first posts I wrote on my blog, they were relatively short, but with the US litigation against Chinese companies in the US and the Chinese litigation against US companies growing, the Posts will grow even larger.

As mentioned before, the US China Trade War is expanding into many different areas.  Trade and Customs were simply the first areas of attack.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN PREDICTED TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

My intention was to upload this post to my blog by the end of December.  Unfortunately, did not make it, but while on Christmas break I was at the Ronald Reagan Center in Santa Barbara, California.

In October 1980, I joined the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) as a staff attorney in the Office of General Counsel and later in the Chief Counsel’s office in the Commerce Department.  During that entire time, Ronald Reagan was President.  During that period, the ITC was also the most free trade Commission in its history as Reagan appointed Commissioner after Commissioner with strong free trade ideologies, such as Susan Liebeler, Anne Brunsdale, and Robert Cass.  From my observation, Ronald Reagan was the most free trade president in my lifetime.  Congress, however, does not like free traders.

While at the Santa Barbara Center, I listened to the attached speech by President Ronald Reagan on international trade and was amazed because he predicted with absolute accuracy the present state of trade relations with China.  REAGAN IT SPEECH  On June 28, 1986 from his California Ranch, President Reagan stated as follows:

 

“Now, I know that if I were to ask most of you how you like to spend your Saturdays in the summertime, sitting down for a  nice, long discussion of international trade wouldn’t be at the top of the list. But believe me, none of us can or should be bored with this issue. Our nation’s economic health, your well-being and that of your family’s really is at stake.

That’s because international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in American politics.

But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth. You see, trade barriers and protectionism only put off the inevitable. Sooner or later, economic reality intrudes, and industries protected by the Government face a new and unexpected form of competition. It may be a better product, a more efficient manufacturing technique, or a new foreign or domestic competitor.

By this time, of course, the protected industry is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition. And that, my friends, is when the factories shut down and the unemployment lines start.

We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper.

Well, since World War II, the nations of the world showed they learned at least part of their lesson. They organized the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, to promote free trade. It hasn’t all been easy going, however. Sometimes foreign governments adopt unfair tariffs or quotas and subsidize their own industries or take other actions that give firms an unfair competitive edge over our own businesses. On those occasions, it’s been very important for the United States to respond effectively, and our administration hasn’t hesitated to act quickly and decisively.

And in September, with more GATT talks coining up once again, it’s going to be very important for the United States to make clear our commitment that unfair foreign competition cannot be allowed to put American workers in businesses at an unfair disadvantage. But I think you all know the inherent danger here. A foreign government raises an unfair barrier; the United States Government is forced to respond. Then the foreign government retaliates; then we respond, and so on. The pattern is exactly the one you see in those pie fights in the old Hollywood comedies: Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier. The difference here is that it’s not funny. It’s tragic. Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”

 

Several thoughts come to mind when reading this speech.  When President Reagan speaks of a “protected industry” that  “is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition”, think the US Steel Industry, which has had antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place against steel imports for more than 40 years.  Is Bethlehem Steel alive today?  No, the orders did not work.

Second, President Reagan mentions the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.  The real name of that law is the Tariff Act of 1930, and where are the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws to be found—The Tariff Act of 1930.  Yes, many parts of the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act are alive today.

Finally President Reagan truly predicted the Trade War with China, including the Chinese reaction to the Solar Cells antidumping and countervailing duty cases and the other trade cases against China.  The Solar Cells cases against China has led to the Polysilicon antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the US, wiping out $2 billion in US exports to China.  The Section 421 Tires case described below led to Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases against automobiles and chicken from the US.

The Trade War with China truly has become a pie fight in the old Hollywood comedies– “Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier,” but the sad part is that it costs jobs.

TRADE

SOLAR CELLS—NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE TO CLOSE THIRD COUNTRY LOOPHOLE AND AGAINST CHINA AND TAIWAN

On December 31, 2013, Solar World filed another antidumping and countervailing duty petition to close the third country loophole against China and Taiwan with alleged antidumping rates of 298%.

The antidumping and countervailing duty petition covers crystalline silicon photovoltaic products, including solar cells, modules and panels,  from China and Taiwan.  The specific products covered by the new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations are:

“The merchandise covered by this investigation is crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including building integrated materials. For purposes of this investigation, subject merchandise also includes modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells completed or partially manufactured within a customs territory other than that subject country, using ingots, wafers, or partially manufactured cells sourced from the subject country. . . .”

“Also excluded from the scope of this investigation are any products covered by the existing antidumping and countervailing duty orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules, from the People’s Republic of China- case numbers A-570-979 and C-570-980.”

Attached is a copy of the injury petition.  AD CVD CASE SOLAR WORLD TAIWAN AND CHINA

If Chinese companies are exporting and US importers are importing Chinese modules and panels with Taiwan or other solar cells in them, this option will be closed in 150 to 210 days.  Chinese companies also must be prepared to submit separate rate applications in this new antidumping case to get the average rate.

On January 3, 2014, the US International Trade Commission issued the attached notice regarding the preliminary injury investigation in the new Solar Cells, Modules and Panels case against China and Taiwan.  USITC Solar Panels PRELIMNARY NOTICE  The ITC’s preliminary conference is scheduled for January 21st in Washington DC.

If anyone is interested in participating in the case at the ITC or the Commerce Department, please feel free to contact me.

FIRST SOLAR CELLS CASE–REVIEW REQUESTS

In the first Solar Cells case, the first annual review investigations have just started up, which will determine the actual liability of US importers for antidumping and countervailing duties on their imports.  On December 31, 2013, Solar World and the other US solar cell producers filed the attached letters requesting that the Chinese companies named in the letters be included in the review investigations. AD SolarWorld Review Request-12-31-13 SolarWorld CVD Review Request-12-31-13

If you are a Chinese producer/exporter and you are named in the letter, you must partcipate in the review investigation or you will lose your 24% antidumping rate and your new rate will be 250%.  If you are an importer of solar cells during the specific review periods and your Chinese suppliers are named in these letters, you must make sure that they participate in the review investigations.  If your suppliers do not participate, the antidumping rate will go from 24% to 250% and you the importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—BALI/DOHA ROUND AND TPP

In the trade world, the most important developments may be the WTO negotiations in Bali and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.  Both negotiations could have a major impact on China trade.

Attached is an article that I have written together with a Canadian trade and customs lawyer about the impact of the TPP from both the US and Canadian point of view.FINAL ARTICLE TPP US CHINA

DOHA ROUND-BALI

From China’s point of view, the WTO negotiations in the Doha Round are extremely important.  The only way that China can deter many trade actions is to work within the multilateral framework to reduce trade barriers to Chinese products.

Multilateral WTO negotiations are even more important for China because of the ongoing TPP negotiations, which at this moment do not include China.  As indicated in my attached article on the TPP, the US and other countries see the TPP negotiations as one way to offset China’s rise in the trade area.

But multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations are by their nature a give and take.  All countries in the negotiations have to be willing to reduce some of their own trade barriers to persuade other countries to lower their trade barriers.  No country wins or loses on all issues.  By their nature, trade negotiations involve tradeoffs.

So the WTO and TPP trade negotiations are going to be of continued interest to Chinese companies and US importers.

WTO NEGOTIATIONS-BALI

As mentioned in a past post, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) pointed to the coming World Trade Organization (“WTO”) multilateral negotiations in Bali on trade facilitation measures, which would streamline customs procedures, as being very important as well as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other Pacific Rim countries, which were “posed to close”.

On November 27, 2013, however, there were reports that the WTO multilateral negotiations in Bali had broken down, in part over the Trade Facilitation report.  But those statements were premature.

On December 6, 2013, WTO members announced that a Trade Facilitation Agreement had been struck by the member countries.  This would be the first WTO-wide agreement in the organization’s nearly two decade history.  Round-the-clock negotiations at the conference led to the so-called Bali package -the first membership-wide agreement since the WTO was created in 1995.  The Bali Package includes measures on trade facilitation, intended to streamline customs and other procedures that affect the shipment of goods across borders, as well as provisions on agriculture and economic development.

“For the first time in our history: the WTO has truly delivered.” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a December 5th statement. “I challenged you all, here in Bali, to show the political will we needed to take us across the finish line. You did that. And I thank you for it.”

The WTO was able to overcome objections from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua because it did not address a U.S. embargo against Cuba, which has been in place for more than 50 years, and other trade embargoes.  The agreement was to add an additional sentence in Bali deal’s text that upheld the “principle of non-discrimination in goods in transit.”

India also raised concerns over part of the package’s agriculture section that dealt with agricultural subsidy programs that some developing countries offer to promote “food security” and combat hunger.

Those concerns, however, appeared to have been largely addressed in the draft text circulated December 3rd, which contained an interim agreement, under which WTO members would refrain from lodging disputes against developing countries that stockpile crops as part of a food security program, as long as the subsidies do not distort trade.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics said an ambitious agreement on trade facilitation could add $960 billion to the world economy.  But the symbolism is more important.  The Bali Agreement is very important for both developed and developing countries.  Many of the FTA agreements, such as the ongoing TPP agreements, could hurt the developing countries the most.  The movement of both the TPP and the Trans- Atlantic Agreement puts more pressure on the WTO countries to reach a deal.

The importance of the Bali Agreement is that it means the WTO can still be an effective forum for truly multilateral trade negotiations.  If no deal had been reached in Bali, this could have led to the collapse of the WTO as a multilateral forum to negotiate reductions of trade barriers.

In a speech in Bali, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo stated, “What’s at stake is the cause of multilateralism itself”

TPP NEGOTIATIONS RUN INTO HEADWINDS

The USTR and US government officials were predicting that the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations would conclude at the end of the year with an Agreement.  That was simply too optimistic.  Secret negotiations are going to generate controversey.

On December 10th, the Trade Ministers for the 12 countries negotiating the TPP announced in Singapore “substantial progress” in the talks, but there would be no deal by the end of the year.  In a joint statement, the Ministers indicated that they had engaged in productive discussions, identifying potential solutions to a number of outstanding obstacles, but more meetings would be held in 2014.

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee of U.S. House of Representatives, indicated that critical work lay ahead, especially the continued closure of Japan’s market to U.S. cars and agricultural products, the implementation of enforceable labor and environmental rules, and strict rules on currency manipulation and state-owned enterprises.

South Korea has indicated interest in the talks, but it is unlikely that any other country would join the agreement while the talks are still ongoing.  Presently, the TPP negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The two most important countries for the US, however, are Japan and possibly Vietnam.  Japan is important because of decades long problems involving automobiles and agriculture products, and Vietnam because as a non-market economy Communist country, it could be a forerunner to China.

 On December 10th Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) stated that there had been significant progress in the Singapore Round and countries will continue their work in January.

“The headway achieved so far on TPP is positive, but more work remains. There are longstanding issues that need to be resolved, like access for U.S. automakers and farmers, and we should take the time to get this agreement right. I look forward to consulting with Ambassador Froman when he returns on the next steps. Concluding these negotiations, as well as other trade agreements, will require Congressional passage of Trade Promotion Authority legislation. Given the considerable bipartisan and bicameral progress that has been made on that front, I expect we will be in a position to do so early next year if we have the Administration’s active participation.”

In addition, Congressional leaders announced that they had come to agreement on providing the Administration Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority.

But the TPP then ran into headwinds.

AGRICULTURE

On December 19, 2013, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Soybean Association, International Dairy Foods Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Association, U.S. Dairy Export Council, U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Wheat Associates, USA Rice Federation announced that they would oppose the TPP if a final version did not require Japan to eliminate tariffs on virtually all US agricultural exports.

In the attached letter AG LETTER TO USTR to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the seventeen agriculture industry groups stated:

“Dear Mr. Ambassador:

We are writing to express our concern with the state of play of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Each of our organizations has expressed in the past strong support for a comprehensive, high-standard TPP agreement. However, we have watched with growing alarm the unwillingness of Japanese negotiators to present a comprehensive offer on agricultural products, and we now believe this situation is threatening to undermine the negotiations.

In previous negotiations, the United States has demanded and received from developing country trading partners full and comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector. Yet in the TPP negotiations, Japan – a rich, developed country – is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector. We consider an agreement that includes such special treatment for Japan to be unacceptable.

If Japan is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unraveling of the agreement, as other parties pull their offers on sensitive products, or their concessions on sensitive issues, off the table.

However, even if it were possible to prevent the agreement among current parties from unraveling, granting exceptions to Japan, or any other party, would have far-reaching consequences. As the TPP expands to include other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, we can expect other countries with sensitivities in the agricultural sector, such as China, to make similar demands. Moreover, a weak agreement with Japan would inevitably have significant negative implications for our ability to reach an acceptable agreement with the EU in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.

U.S. agriculture has always supported trade agreements and Trade Promotion Authority as the most effective means of eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers and expanding global trade. However, the market access package you negotiate with Japan has the potential to impact billions in future exports and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In conclusion, TPP must include comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector by all participating countries. If Japan continues to insist on unreasonable protections to a range of agricultural categories, we ask you to consider concluding TPP without Japan. It will ultimately be difficult for our organizations to support a TPP agreement with Japan that does not include comprehensive trade liberalization for all agricultural sectors.”

This is an extremely important development because US agriculture is the primary force pushing for Free Trade Agreements.  If the farmers do not support the TPP, there will be no agreement.

UNIONS

On December 9th, The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAM”), which represents around 700,000 current and former industrial workers, announced that the TPP would be a job killer, leading to a massive loss of American jobs.  The IAM argued that past trade deals did not create jobs and has lead to a “death sentence” for American workers.

The IAM stated that it is strongly opposed to the revival of “fast-track” authorities that expired in 2007 and “If TPP is implemented, U.S. manufacturing may well find itself on the endangered species list.”

DRUGS AND IP

On December 11, 2013, potential provisions in the TPP on drug patent protections and the length of copyright terms came under fire with Democratic lawmakers, library associations and consumer groups voicing concern over proposals that are currently on the table.

Several Democratic Congressmen urged USTR to reconsider its reported proposals for handling pharmaceutical patents in the TPP. CONG LETTER A number of libraries, digital rights and consumer groups argued against a copyright protection for a term of 70 years after the creator of a particular work dies.

Representative Henry Waxman, D-Calif and Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah sent separate letters arguing for and against the proposal of a 12-year market exclusivity period for biologics – drugs developed through biologic processes that can be used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.  Waxman argues for 7 years and Hatch is arguing for 12 years.

As Representative Waxman states in the attached letter Waxman TPP Drug IP Letter:

“The United States only recently established its biosimilars pathway when it enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (Pub. L. No. 111-148) and the consequences of PPACA’s mandated twelve years of biologics exclusivity are not yet known.

Proposing twelve years of exclusivity in the context of TPP negotiations would conflict with stated Administration policy, as reflected in President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposal, recommending that the exclusivity period for biologics be reduced to seven years. Were the TPP ultimately to contain a twelve year biologics exclusivity provision, it would impede the ability of Congress to achieve the President’s proposed seven year change because doing so would run afoul of U.S. trade obligations.

As we have discussed before, it is also critical that USTR ensure that developing countries are not left behind in this agreement. The United States must ensure that the TPP does not result in generic medicines becoming available in TPP developing countries later than in the United States. In addition, the patent flexibilities available to developing nations in the Doha Declaration on Public Health should not be denied or weakened in the agreement.”

SECTION 421 SPECIAL SAFEGUARD PROVISION AGAINST CHINA EXPIRED ON DECEMBER 11, 2013

On December 11, 2013, Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974, a special safeguard law against China, expired as a result of provisions in the US China WTO Agreement.  The safeguard allowed the President to impose higher tariffs and other trade relief if the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) determined that increased imports from China caused or threatened material injury to a US industry.

Although there were several affirmative ITC Section 421 determinations during the Bush Administration, President Bush refused to provide relief.  The provision resulted in trade restrictions only once, when President Obama approved an ITC determination that the importation of Chinese rubber tires was injuring U.S. tire manufacturers.

Many US tire producers, however, were opposed to the Section 421 case, but the Unions were very much in favor of the relief, which President Obama issued to counter criticism in an election year that he was not tough enough on China.

President Obama’s decision to impose relief in the Tires case, however, resulted in the Chinese government bringing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the United States on automobiles and chicken.  The Chicken AD and CVD orders in China continue to block approximately $1 billion in the US exports of chicken to China.

SILICA BRICKS

On December 12, 2013, in another surprising decision, the ITC in 6-0 unanimous determination reached a negative injury determination in the antidumping case on silica bricks from China.  ITC NEGATIVE SILICA BRICKS The ITC negative determination followed a Commerce Department affirmative determination issuing Chinese companies antidumping rates ranging from 63.81 to 73.1% on imports of silica bricks.

JANUARY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

On January 2, 2014, the Commerce Department issued its monthly notice stating that Chinese companies and US importers that want review investigations in the following investigations should file such a request by the end of the month.  The specific antidumping and countervailing duty investigations at issue are:

Antidumping Investitgations

On THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA:
Crepe Paper Products, A-570-895………………    1/1/13-12/31/13
Ferrovanadium, A-570-873…………………….    1/1/13-12/31/13
Folding Gift Boxes, A-570-866………………..    1/1/13-12/31/13
Potassium Permanganate, A-570-001………………..    1/1/13-12/31/13
Wooden Bedroom Furniture, A-570-890………………    1/1/13-12/31/13

Countervailing Duty Proceedings

THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA:
Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods, C-570-944…..    1/1/13-12/31/13
Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, C-   1/1/13-12/31/13
570-936…………………………………..

SHELLFISH

On December 5th, the Washington State Government reported that on December 3 the Chinese government announced that it was banning all imports of molluscan shellfish from North America area #67, which includes all harvest areas in Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, and northern California.  WASHINGTON SHELLFISH ANNOUNCE

China reported a shipment of geoducks tested high in paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) and arsenic.

The Washington Government has stated that it is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and its state partners gathering facts, tracing the geoducks to the original harvest area, and closely reviewing its PSP test data.

On December 20th, Washington State and tribal officials closed a 135-acre geoduck-harvesting area outside Federal Way Washington until they could fully investigate the toxicity levels that caused China to ban shellfish imported from the West Coast.

Washington State officials learned that arsenic was the toxin Chinese authorities detected in a shipment of geoduck clams to China from Washington’s Poverty Bay.

That shipment, along with one from Ketchikan, Alaska, led China on Dec. 3 to ban all imports of shellfish harvested in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.

The Washington Department of Health traced the shipment back to 385 pounds of geoduck harvested in October by the Puyallup Tribe in Poverty Bay on what the Department of Natural Resources calls the Redondo Tract.

“There are no federal safety standards at all for arsenic in shellfish because it is not something that is typically an issue,” said Tim Church, the health department’s director of communications. “With the tests that we’ve done in the past, we’ve never found levels of arsenic that would be a concern for eating shellfish.”

China has not said when it will lift the ban on West Coast shellfish.

The Chinese government’s decision to ban all shellfish harvested from Northern California to Alaska would appear to be excessive, but that decision must be taken in context.

Because of US antidumping laws, all Chinese imports of honey, garlic, mushrooms, crawfish and shrimp have been greatly curtailed.  Some of the antidumping orders against Chinese agricultural products have been in place for more than 10 to 20 years.

In addition, the US government has been particularly tough on imports of Chinese honey, mushrooms, garlic and other agricultural products because of pesticide contamination, banning all imports of certain products during specific periods of time.

With the US government so tough on imports of agricultural and seafood products from China, US exporters of agricultural and seafood products should expect the Chinese government to be just as tough on US exports to China.

Trade is a two way street and what goes around comes around.

CHINESE TEXTILE MANUFACTURER MOVES TO—SOUTH CAROLINA

In a bright spot, it has been reported that a Chinese yarn maker has decided it can make more money setting up shop in the US in South Carolina.  Keer Group Co., a yarn spinning factory in Hangzhou, China, has moved to South Carolina.

A number of Asian textile manufacturers have decided to set up production in the U.S. to save money as salaries, energy and other costs rise at home. Keer has invested $218 million to build a factory in Lancaster County, not far from Charlotte, N.C. The new plant will pay half as much as Mr. Zhu does for electricity in China and get local government support, he says.  Keer expects to create at least 500 jobs.

In another benefit, Keer can ship yarn to manufacturers in Central America, which, unlike companies in China, can send finished clothes duty-free to the U.S.

In September, JN Fibers Inc. of China agreed to build a $45 million plant in South Carolina that turns plastic bottles into polyester fibers used to stuff pillows and furniture. That investment is expected to create 318 jobs.

Keer stated costs for industrial land in Hangzhou have increased because China’s textile industry is plagued by overcapacity, which has squeezed profits, and local governments are reluctant to sell land to producers.

The local government in South Carolina, which has 8.1% unemployment, has set an annual fixed fee in lieu of taxes that Keer will pay for 30 years. Sixty percent of that annual fee will be returned to the company each year until it has paid off a $7.7 million bond that the county issued to help buy the land.

MAKING OF A T-SHIRT

The reality of interdependence in our Trade World is illustrated by the attached video from the Colbert Report, which traces the production of a T-shirt sold in the United States from the cotton produced in the US to cloth produced in Indonesia to the T-shirt produced in Bangledesh. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/431141/december-10-2013/alex-blumberg

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

As mentioned in prior newsletters, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China.

On September 18, 2013, ten US Importers agreed to form the Import Alliance for America. The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

We are now contacting many US importers and also Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE

CHICKEN

In response to a WTO determination, on December 27, 2013, MOFCOM announced that it would reinvestigate the antidumping and countervailing duties on chicken from the US, specifically against white-feather broiler chicken products from the U.S.

CUSTOMS

INSURANCE COMPANY LIABLE FOR NEW SHIPPER ANTIDUMPING DUTIES IN CRAWFISH CASE

In an antidumping new shipper review investigation on Crawfish from China, a US importer, New Phoenix, posted eight single-transaction bonds issued by Great American to cover seven entries of crawfish tailmeat, with a value of $1,219,458 for each bond or a total of $6,097,290 in liability.  When the importer could not pay, the US Customs Service sued the insurance company for the amount of the bonds plus interest.

In attached decision, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit orders Great American to pay the $6 million plus postjudgment interest.  INSURANCE COMPANIES OWE AD DUTIES

RHINO HORN

On December 19, 2013, the US Justice Department announced that Zhifei Li, the owner of an antique business in China, had pled guilty to being the organizer of an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which 30 rhinoceros horns and numerous objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth more than $4.5 million were smuggled from the United States to China.  See attached Justice Department notice.  RHINO HORN

Li was arrested in Florida in January 2013 on federal charges brought under seal in New Jersey.  Shortly after arriving in the country, he pled guilty to a total of 11 counts: one count of conspiracy to smuggle and violate the Lacey Act; seven counts of smuggling; one count of illegal wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act; and two counts of making false wildlife documents.

Li was arrested as part of “Operation Crash” – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division stated:

The take-down of the Li smuggling ring is an important development in our effort to enforce wildlife protection laws. Rhino horn can sell for more than gold and is just as rare, but rhino horn and elephant ivory are more than mere commodities. Each illegally traded horn or tusk represents a dead animal, poaching, bribery, smuggling and organized crime. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the law designed to protect wildlife. This is a continuing investigation.

In pleading guilty, Li admitted that he sold 30 smuggled, raw rhinoceros horns worth approximately $3 million –approximately $17,500 per pound – to factories in China where raw rhinoceros horns are carved into fake antiques known as Zuo Jiu (which means “to make it as old” in Mandarin).  In China, there is a centuries-old tradition of drinking from an intricately carved “libation cup” made from a rhinoceros horn. Owning or drinking from such a cup is believed by some to bring good health, and true antiques are highly prized by collectors. The escalating value of such items has resulted in an increased demand for rhinoceros horn that has helped fuel a thriving black market, including recently carved fake antiques.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

NO 337 VIOLATION IF IMPORTED PRODUCT ON ENTRY DOES NOT INFRINGE THE PATENT

On December 13, 2013, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in the attached Suprema, Inc. and Mentalix Inc. vs. ITC held that an exclusion order based on a violation of § 337(a)(1)(B)(i) may not be predicated on a theory of induced infringement where no direct infringement occurs until post-importation.  CAFC Slip Opinion 12-1170 SUPREMA INC – CROSS MATCH v ITC

The patents at issue concern fingerprint machines.  The Suprema fingerprint machines had multiple uses, but after the fingerprint machines were imported into the United States, software from Mentalix was applied to the Suprema fingerprint machines, resulting in infringement of patents held by a US company.  The ITC found that Suprema and Mentalix had violated section 337 based on an induced infringement theory and issued an exclusion order.

The CAFC determined not so fast.  Section 337 is also a trade statute, and the Commission’s authority in section 337 cases is based on its jurisdiction over the imported products.  According to the CAFC, however, the imported products have to infringe the patent at the time the products are imported into the US, especially where the imported product has multiple uses and the only infringing use happens after the product is imported into the US.

As the CAFC stated in its opinion:

“The Commission’s mandate to deal with matters of patent infringement under § 337(a)(1)(B)(i) is thus premised on the “importation,” “sale for importation,” or “sale within the United States after importation” of “articles that . . . infringe.” . . . Thus, the Commission’s authority extends to “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable United States patent.” The focus is on the infringing nature of the articles at the time of importation, not on the intent of the parties with respect to the imported goods.  . . .

Given the nature of the conduct proscribed in § 271(b) and the nature of the authority granted to the Commission in § 337, we hold that the statutory grant of authority in § 337 cannot extend to the conduct proscribed in § 271(b) where the acts of underlying direct infringement occur post-importation. Section 337(a)(1)(B)(i) grants the Commission authority to deal with the “importation,” “sale for importation,” or “sale within the United States after importation” of “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable U.S patent.” The patent laws essentially define articles that infringe in § 271(a) and (c), and those provisions’ standards for infringement (aside from the “United States” requirements, of course) must be met at or before importation in order for the articles to be infringing when imported. Section 271(b) makes unlawful certain conduct (inducing infringement) that becomes tied to an article only through the underlying direct infringement. Prior to the commission of any direct infringement, for purposes of inducement of infringement, there are no “articles that . . . infringe”—a prerequisite to the Commission’s exercise of authority based on § 337(a)(1)(B)(i).

Consequently, we hold that the Commission lacked the authority to enter an exclusion order directed to Suprema’s scanners premised on Suprema’s purported induced infringement of the method claimed in the ’344 patent.”

The key point is that section 337 is not just an intellectual property statute; it is also a trade statute.  Section 337, just like the antidumping and countervailing duty law, regulates imports, and thus the CAFC is stating that since 337 is a trade statute, the product must be infringing at the time of importation.  If the infringement happens after importation, that can be a real problem for the US patent holder in a 337 case.

337 CASE RESULTS IN ANTITRUST RETALIATION IN CHINA

As indicated below, Interdigital has filed a section 337 case against Huawei.  Huawei retaliated by filing an antitrust case in China under Chinese law.  The Chinese government’s antitrust authority, NDRC, is now threatening jail time to Interdigital executives.

What is worse is that on December 20th, in the attached decision the ITC rejected Interdigital’s complaint and found no violation of section 337 so Interdigital lost the section 337 case, but is stuck with a Chinese antitrust case.  ITC NOTICE INTERDIGITAL  Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew.

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

On December 11, 2013, Tyco filed a new 337 case against imports of certain surveillance systems.  One of the respondents is Ningbo Signatronic Technologies, Ltd., China.

The ITC notice is set forth below:

Docket No: 2990

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Brian R. Nester, Sidley Austin LLP

Behalf Of: Tyco Fire & Security Gmbh (TFSG), Sensormatic Electronic, LLC

(Sensormatic) and Tyco Integrated Security, LLC (TIS)

Date Received: December 11, 2013

Commodity: Acousto-Magnetic Electronic Article Surveillance Systems

Description: Letter to James R. Holbein, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Acousto-Magnetic Electronic Article Surveillance Systems, Components Thereof, and Products containing same. The proposed respondents are: Ningbo Signatronic Technologies, Ltd., China; All-Tag Security Americas, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida; All-Tag Security Hong Kong Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; All-Tag Europe SPRL; Brussels; All-Tag Security UK Ltd., United Kingdom; Best Security Industries, Delray Beach, FL; and Signatronic Corporation, Boca Raton, FL.

 

On December 18th, Pragmatus filed a section 337 case against ZTE on Wireless Devices.  The notice is below:

Docket No: 2992

Document Type:337 Complaint

Filed By:Anthony Grillo

Firm/Org:Marino and Grillo LLC

Behalf Of:Pragmatus Mobile, LLC

Date Received:December 18, 2013

Commodity:Wireless Devices, including Mobile Phones and Tablets II

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Acting Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Wireless Devices, Including Mobile Phones and Tablets II. The proposed respondents are Nokia Corporation (Nokia Oyj), Finland; Nokia, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, Korea; Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Ridgefield Park, NJ; Samsung Telecommunications America, L.L.C., richardson, TX; Sony Corporation, Tokyo; Sony Mobile Communications AB, Sweden; Sony Mobile Communications (USA), Inc., Atlanta, GA; ZTE Corporation, China; and ZTE (USA) Inc., Richardson TX.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI, ZTE, AND OTHER COMPANIES

On December 2, 2013, Chanel filed a major trademark suit against a number of John Doe Unknown companies that were infringing its trademarks.  CHANEL TMK CHINA In the Complaint Chanel states:

“Defendants are partnerships or unincorporated business associations, which operate through domain names registered with registrars in multiple countries, commercial internet e-stores via the third party marketplace website C2Coffer.com, and commercial Internet auction store via the third party marketplace website iOffer.com, and are comprised of individuals and/or business entities of unknown makeup, all of whom, upon information and belief, reside in the People’s Republic of China or other foreign jurisdictions with lax trademark enforcement systems.”

On December 3, 2013, Concinnnitas and George W. Hindman filed patent cases against Huawei Device USA Inc. and ZTE. CONCINNATIS HUAWEI CONCINNATIS ZTE

On December 11, 2013, in addition to the 337 case Tyco sued Ningbo for patent infringement in Federal District court.  NINGBO PATENT

On December 12, 2013, US company Harmonic Drive LLC filed a trademark case against NAC Harmonic Drive, Inc., Harmonic Drive Canada and Beijing CTKM Harmonic Drive Co.  HARMONIC DRIVE

On December 18, 2013 Content Guard Holdings, Inc., filed a patent case against Huawei Device USA and other companies. CONTENT GUARD HUAWEI

On December 17, 2013, Microsoft sued Sichuan Changhong Electric Co., Ltd. for software piracy. MICROSOFT STOLEN SOFTWARE

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

As mentioned, the Vitamin C case is wrapping up at the District Court level.  Attached is the final judgment with a $153 million judgment against by Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing.  VITAMIN C FINAL JUDGMENT

On December 30, 2013, the Judge amended the order to add an additional $4,093,163.35 to pay the legal fees of the lawyers bringing the case against the Chinese companies.  See the attached documents.  ATTORNEYS FEES VITAMIN C FINAL AMENDED JUDGMENT VITAMIN C CASE

Hebei Welcome has announced that it is appealing the Court’s final judgment.

Boies Schiller, the Plaintiffs’ lawyer, also announced on December 11th that it was paying associate bonuses that were as high as $300,000, with the average distribution across the litigation firm’s 133 associates at $85,000.

It pays to sue Chinese companies.

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

As mentioned in the last post, Qualcomm, a US mobile chip maker, announced that it is the target of an antitrust investigation led by the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), China’s top economic planning body and antitrust authority.  Also Cisco announced that Chinese companies are reducing their purchases of Cisco equipment in response to the N.S.A. disclosures and the recent US Congressional activity aimed at curtailing purchases of equipment from Huawei and other Chinese companies.

There are three Chinese government entities entrusted with investigating and enforcing the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law, which was passed in 2007: the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Commerce, and the NDRC.  The fact that the antitrust investigation is coming from the NDRC, which is in charge of price supervision and inspection, suggests that the government’s objective is to make 4G service more affordable before its introduction next year.

This year, the commission led an inquiry into six foreign dairy companies, including Mead Johnson Nutrition and Groupe Danone, after allegations that they broke anti-monopoly rules and fixed prices.  The investigation resulted in a fine of $109 million, a record for anti-monopoly violations in China.

Now China is using antitrust cases to counterattack 337 patent cases.

INTERDIGITAL—CHINA BRINGS ANTITRUST CASES IN RESPONSE TO 337 CASE

In July 2011, Interdigital filed a section 337 patent case at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) against Huawei.  In response, on December 5, 2011, Huawei filed two complaints before the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court (the Shenzhen Court) in China, alleging that, by filing the section 337 case and engaging in certain patent practices, InterDigital had (1) abused its dominant market position, contrary to the Anti-Monopoly Law of the People’s Republic of China (AML), and (2) as an owner of several Standard Essential Patents (“SEP”) for 2G, 3G and 4G telecommunications technologies, it had failed to negotiate a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory license for those patents.

On February 4, 2013, the Shenzhen Court ruled that InterDigital had abused its dominant market position and thus violated the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law by  tying its standard essential patents with non-standard essential patents during licensing negotiations and seeking injunctive relief against Huawei before the US Federal Court and in the section 337 case before the US ITC while still in negotiations with Huawei to force Huawei to accept unreasonable licensing terms, including excessive royalties.

InterDigital’s requirement that Huawei pay significantly (sometimes even 100 times) higher royalty rates than those required of Apple, Samsung and other companies for the same set of patents, even while Huawei’s global sales were much less than Apple and Samsung, appeared to the Courts to be prima facie evidence of discriminatory treatment. In addition, the Courts noted that InterDigital had also required Huawei to license back all of its global patents on a royalty-free basis (as of 31 December 2010, Huawei owned 31,869 Chinese patents, 8,892 PCT international patent applications and 8,279 overseas patents). To the Court, this appeared contrary to fair or reasonable principles.

The Shenzhen Court ordered InterDigital to cease its unlawful practices and pay Huawei $3.2 million in damages.

On October 28, 2013, there were reports that that the Guangdong Higher People’s Court affirmed most of the rulings of the Shenzhen Court, including the $3.2 million award in damages.

 Unfortunately, the decisions of both the Shenzhen Court and the Guangdong Higher People’s Court have not been publicly disclosed, possibly because of trade secret issues. Thus the following observations are based on media reports and an article by a Chinese attorney.

Apparently, the Chinese Court determined that the owner of a Standard Essentials Patent has a 100 per cent market share in the technology licensing market for that SEP and, therefore, a monopoly, no matter how the market is defined.   If the holder of the Standard Essentials Patent tries to extract supra competitive royalties from industry participants, that is abuse of monopoly power.  In addition, apparently, the Chinese courts determined that by seeking injunctive relief at the ITC under 337 against Huawei, a willing licensee, the conduct constituted an abuse of the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law.

Both the EC Competition Commission and the FTC have been concerned about the use of standard essential patents to exclude competition.

It should also be noted that the Chinese courts were also concerned that InterDigital’s principal business is patent licensing and that it does not manufacture any product. As a result, Huawei was in a weak bargaining position during licensing negotiations because cross-licensing would not be available, and InterDigital could make use of this advantage to extract more favorable contract terms from Huawei. The Shenzhen Court apparently found that InterDigital had tried to exploit this advantage, by insisting on unreasonably high royalties and requesting Huawei to license back its patents on a royalty-free basis.

There are reports that Qiu Yongqing, a senior judge at the Guangdong Higher People’s Court presiding over the case, is reported to have stated that Huawei “used antitrust law as a weapon to counterattack” monopolization by multinationals in the technology sector, and that other Chinese companies should learn from Huawei.

On December 16, 2013, the dispute between Interdigital and Huawei escalated. In a letter to the NDRC, Interdigital’s CEO announced that it would not send executives to a December 18th meeting with Chinese authorities over China’s monopoly investigation due to threats of possible imprisonment of Interdigital executives, which allegedly included U.S. counsel accompanying the firm to the meeting.

In a statement, CEO William Merritt said:

“To this date, we have cooperated fully with the NDRC’s investigation of our company, and continue to believe that we have done absolutely nothing wrong . . .  However, we are simply unable to comply with any investigation that is accompanied by a threat to the safety of our executives.”

Interdigital’s letter indicated also that the NDRC had informed it that its probe was sparked by InterDigital’s suit in the U.S. International Trade Commission against Chinese firms.

Meanwhile, there are reports out of China that the NDRC will recruit at least 170 new employees for the antitrust law enforcement team to battle price fixing.  The NDRC said its antitrust probes focus on six industries – aerospace, daily chemicals, automobiles, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and home appliances.

Thus if a US Company brings a 337 IP case at the ITC against Chinese companies, it should be prepared for a possible antitrust case in China.

What goes around, comes around. 

SECURITIES

Attached is a description of Dorsey’s litigation team to handle for Chinese companies US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Class Actions Securities cases.  DORSEY SECURITIES LITIGATION TEAM

CHINESE AUDIT DOCUMENTS TURNED OVER TO SEC

On December 13, 2013, it was reported that Chinese governmental authorities have turned over more audit documents to U.S. regulators regarding U.S.-traded Chinese companies as part of a sweeping U.S. probe of accounting fraud by Chinese companies publicly traded in the US.

Audit documents regarding at least six Chinese companies trading on U.S. exchanges now have been either turned over to U.S. regulators or are “in the pipeline” to be furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).

The fight for the audit document resulted from SEC efforts to probe a wave of accounting and disclosure problems at more than 100 U.S.-traded Chinese companies that surfaced starting in 2011. U.S. investors lost billions of dollars when the companies’ stocks plunged once the problems were disclosed. The SEC has filed more than a dozen lawsuits against some of these Chinese companies and their executives and has won settlements in some cases.

But the investigations have been impeded because China-based audit firms, including Chinese affiliates of the Big Four, have refused to hand over audit documents to the SEC out of fear that providing the documents would violate China’s strict state-secrecy rules, which could land their auditors in jail.

Ultimately, that dispute led to the agreement earlier this year, which addressed the audit firms’ concerns by having them give the documents to Chinese regulators, who then would provide them to the U.S.

SERVING CHINESE COMPANIES IN SECURITIES AND OTHER US LITIGATION BY J. JACKSON, DORSEY LITIGATION PARTNER

SERVICE ISSUES IN US LITIGATION AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

By

J. Jackson, Partner and Chairman of Dorsey’s China Litigation Practice

Attached is a copy of the opinion in Bravetti v. Liu (D.N.J. December 11, 2013), SERVICE CHINESE RESPONDENTS Bavetti v Liu  which may be of interest to Chinese companies.  In Bravetti, Plaintiffs proceeding derivatively on behalf of American Oriental Bioengineering, Inc. sued current and former officer and directors, each of whom is a resident of the PRC.  The matter came before the Court, Magistrate Judge Bongiovanni, on Plaintiffs’ motion to allow service on the individual defendants by personally serving the U.S. counsel for the company, American Oriental.  Defendants opposed the motion, arguing that the Hague Convention provides the exclusive means for service of process on PRC’s residents and that service on U.S. counsel for the company did not comport with due process.  The Court rejected Defendants’ arguments and allowed service to proceed by personal service on U.S. counsel for the company.

Plaintiffs brought their motion under Rule 4(f)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides,

“(f) Serving an Individual in a Foreign Country. Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual—other than a minor, an incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed—may be served at a place not within any judicial district of the United States:

*    *     *

(3) by other means not prohibited by international agreement, as the court orders.”

The Court allowed the requested service using the following analysis:  It began by acknowledging, “Courts may direct service when ‘the particularities and necessities of a given case require alternative service of process.’  See Rio Properties, Inc. v. Rio Int’l Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007 at 1016 (9th Cir. 2002).”

The Court further held that alternative service of process was not prohibited by the Hague Convention.  The Court noted that the Hague Convention does not apply “’where the address of the person to be served is not known.’”  Hague Convention, Art. 1.  Here, service was difficult under the Hague Convention, because the residences of the Defendants in the PRC was not known.  Further, the Court found that the Hague Convention does not apply because Plaintiff’s proposed method of service does not require the transmittal of documents abroad.  Under Khachatryan v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., 578 F.Supp.2d 1224, 1228 (C.D. Cal. 2008), the Hague Convention did not apply where Khachatryan served Toyota Japan under California law in a manner which did not require the transmittal of documents abroad.  Here, the proposed method to serve Loeb & Loeb in the United States does not require the transmittal of documents abroad.  Thus, the Hague convention does not apply.

The Court last addressed Defendants’ Due Process argument, finding that service on the Company’s U.S. counsel is “reasonably calculated, under the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them the opportunity to present their objections.”  Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank &Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 314 (1950).  In finding service on the company’s counsel appropriate here, the Court relied on opinions from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, including Brown v. China Integrated Energy, Inc., 285 F.R.D. 560, 566 (C.D. Cal. 2012) (citations omitted) and Rose v. Deer Consumer Products, Inc., 2011 WL 6951969, at *2 (C.D. Cal 2011), both of which allowed service on U.S. registered agents or counsel for individuals residing in the PRC.

Bravetti’s holding should not be limited to Securities derivative litigation.  Whenever a plaintiff finds itself faced with service on PRC residents who, either individually, by agency, or through direct or indirect counsel have a presence in the U.S., that plaintiff will be encouraged to proceed under Civil Procedure Rule 4(f)(3) and seek permission to allow service on their agents, their counsel, or the agents or counsel of the companies on which they serve.

Chinese companies need to keep these issues in mind when they participate in US litigation.

SEC ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

Tom Gorman, a partner in our Washington DC office, who was originally with US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) enforcement division, was quoted in the attached article about how the SEC has increased its enforcement capability after the Bernie Madoff case.  GORMAN SEC

COMPLAINTS

On December 2, 2013, the attached class action securities case was filed by John Hsieh against NQ Mobile and various individuals.  HSIEH NQ MOBILE

If you have any questions about these cases or about the Solar Cells case, US trade, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

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