ITC Review of Qualcomm-Apple Decision Is Normal Practice

Last week, the International Trade Commission (ITC) decided to review the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the Qualcomm v. Apple case at the ITC.  Unfortunately, news reports have characterized this as Qualcomm persuading the ITC to review the initial decision, as if it were unusual.

It isn’t unusual at all.  The Commission frequently reviews the decisions of the ALJs it supervises.  In fact, according to a veteran ITC attorney I spoke with, the “majority, even the vast majority” of decisions are reviewed by the Commission.  That remains the case even when the Commission ultimately decides not to make any changes to the ALJ’s initial determination.

The ITC often takes up review of cases and then upholds the ALJ’s decision—this isn’t like the Supreme Court, where there’s a bias towards reversal.   In fact, one commentator reports an estimate that the Commission upholds 80 percent of all ALJ decisions.

It’s possible the ITC will disagree with ALJ Pender’s thoughtful decision.  But there’s nothing unusual about the Commission taking up the review, and nothing that suggests they intend to change the underlying decision.

Joshua Landau

Joshua Landau is the Patent Counsel at the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), where he represents and advises the association regarding patent issues.  Mr. Landau joined CCIA from WilmerHale in 2017, where he represented clients in patent litigation, counseling, and prosecution, including trials in both district courts and before the PTAB.

Prior to his time at WilmerHale, Mr. Landau was a Legal Fellow on Senator Al Franken’s Judiciary staff, focusing on privacy and technology issues.  Mr. Landau received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.S.E.E. from the University of Michigan.  Before law school, he spent several years as an automotive engineer, during which time he co-invented technology leading to U.S. Patent No. 6,934,140.

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