On July 20, 2020, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) announced that it has chosen WebEx Meeting as its secure FedRAMP-certified video teleconferencing solution for Section 337 hearings and conferences involving Confidential Business Information (CBI). The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) presiding over each investigation has responsibility for determining appropriate hearing procedures using WebEx Meeting, and several ALJs have already issued Orders regarding these new procedures.
Although the ITC has been diligently working to move Section 337 Investigations toward conclusion during the COVID-19 crisis, the ITC’s strict policies regarding treatment of CBI has presented challenges to that effort. Since the adoption of the ITC’s COVID-19 Action Plan in March (see our prior blogs here, here and here), the ITC has been actively exploring technological resources and researching options for acquiring a secure FedRAMP-certified video teleconferencing (VTC) software for Section 337 hearings involving CBI. As part of that effort, the ITC established a 337 Virtual Hearing Working Group that has worked over the last several months to acquire a solution, including:(1)
- Conducting market research on numerous VTC software that may meet the needs of a Section 337 hearing and satisfy all applicable information technological and security standards;
- Researching and reviewing protocols and VTC software used by law firms, private companies, federal and state courts, and federal agencies;
- Seeking feedback from attorneys, other ALJs, and Administrative Patent Judges who have participated in other virtual hearings on the effectiveness of various VTC software;
- Initiating development of internal guidelines and considerations for rules of procedure related to virtual hearings; and
- Developing technical requirements for any potential platform, in view of security requirements.
The ITC then issued a solicitation to procure a secure FedRAMP-certified video teleconferencing solution to conduct virtual hearings and, after consideration of various options, selected WebEx Meeting. The ITC is in the process of implementing WebEx Meeting and will provide further details as they become available. During the transition to WebEx Meeting, the ITC and the ALJs may continue to use other video teleconferencing software for hearings and conferences that do not involve CBI.
(1) For more details see the June 26, 2020 UPDATE, available at https://www.usitc.gov/documents/337_msg_extranet_finalv4.pdf.