Bloomberg Law
Feb. 27, 2023, 4:48 PM

High Court Allows DOJ to Argue in International Trademark Case

Isaiah Poritz
Isaiah Poritz
Legal Reporter

The US solicitor general will participate in oral arguments in a trademark dispute before the US Supreme Court that will test the international reach of the country’s federal trademark law known as the Lanham Act.

The high court granted the solicitor general’s request to be part of the March 21 oral arguments in Abitron Austria Gmbh v. Hetronic International Inc. in a Monday order.

The solicitor general, who represents the views of the Biden administration before the Supreme Court, argued in briefs that courts must place limits on how far US trademark law reaches into foreign territory.

The dispute centers on Hetronic, a US-based radio remote control company, won a $90 million damages award from a former licensee, Abitron, which sold infringing devices. The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the award, of which almost 97% was based on Abitron’s foreign sales to foreign customers.

The solicitor general argued in its brief filed last December that the court should focus only on whether foreign trademark infringement caused consumer confusion in US markets. The Tenth Circuit’s logic risk’s globalizing US trademark law by allowing US courts to regulate foreign conduct, the solicitor general said.

“Computation of a Lanham Act damages award in a case like this one does not require an all-or-nothing choice between holding the defendant liable for every foreign sale or allowing it to escape liability altogether,” the filing said.

The Supreme Court also granted the solicitor general’s request to participate in oral arguments in a patent case, Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi, in an order last week. Oral argument in that case are scheduled for March 27.

MoloLamken LLP represents Abitron. Jenner & Block LLP represents Hetronic.

The case is Abitron Austria GmbH vs. Hetronic Int’l Inc., U.S., No. 21-1043, motion granted 2/27/23.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaiah Poritz in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at

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