• Valbruna Files New 337 Complaint Regarding Certain Stainless Steel Products
  • September 10, 2014 | Authors: Alexander B. Englehart; Eric W. Schweibenz
  • Law Firm: Oblon, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt, L.L.P. - Alexandria Office
  • On September 5, 2014, Valbruna Slater Stainless, Inc. of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Valbruna Stainless Inc. of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Acciaierie Valbruna S.p.A. of Italy (collectively, "Valbruna") filed a complaint requesting that the ITC commence an investigation pursuant to Section 337.

    The complaint alleges that the following entities (collectively, the "Proposed Respondents") unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain stainless steel products manufactured using Valbruna's allegedly stolen trade secrets:

    • Viraj Profiles Limited of India
    • Viraj Holdings P. Ltd. of India
    • Viraj - U.S.A., Inc. of Garden City, New York
    • Flanschenwerk Bebitz GmbH of Germany
    • Bebitz Flanges Works Pvt. Ltd. of India
    • Bebitz U.S.A. of Garden City, New York
    • Ta Chen Stainless Pipe Co., Ltd. of Taiwan
    • Ta Chen International, Inc. of Long Beach, California

    According to the complaint, the asserted trade secrets generally relate to Valbruna's know-how and customer lists. In particular, Valbruna states that it has trade secrets relating to the precise quantities of ingredients and the best processing times and temperatures for manufacturing stainless steel with desirable characteristics. Valbruna also states that it has trade secrets relating to two confidential customer databases.

    In the complaint, Valbruna states that Viraj Profiles Limited ("Viraj India") has misappropriated Valbruna's trade secrets. In particular, the complaint alleges that Viraj India unlawfully obtained Valbruna's trade secrets by inducing a former Valbruna employee to disclose them to Viraj India in return for compensation allegedly far in excess of the value of his legitimate services. According to the complaint, the Proposed Respondents are responsible for importing, selling for importation, and selling after importation within the U.S. stainless steel that is manufactured using the trade secrets allegedly misappropriated by Viraj India.

    Regarding domestic industry, Valbruna states that it has made significant investments in plant and equipment and engaged in a significant employment of labor and capital in the U.S. Valbruna specifically refers to its Fort Wayne, Indiana steel mill, where it manufactures a variety of stainless steel products. Valbruna also states that the alleged misappropriation of its trade secrets—and the Proposed Respondents' importation, sale for importation, and sale within the U.S. after importation of stainless steel manufactured using those trade secrets—have put, and will continue to put, Valbruna at a significant competitive disadvantage and, in the process, substantially and irreparably injure its domestic industry.

    As to related litigation, Valbruna states that the Proposed Respondents' alleged wrongdoing has been the subject of various criminal and civil actions in Italy.

    With respect to potential remedy, Valbruna requests that the Commission issue a limited exclusion order and a cease and desist order directed at the Proposed Respondents.