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Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930: A Private Right-of-Action to Enforce Ocean Wildlife Conservation Laws?

May 2010

Citation: ELR 10513

Author: Jonathan J. Engler

Editors' Summary

The Tariff Act of 1930, one of the oldest U.S. international trade statutes, has untapped potential to extend the reach of U.S. environmental conservation laws. Section 337 of the Act creates a private right-of-action against imported goods produced or traded using "unfair" methods as defined under U.S. domestic law. Today, §337 is used primarily by technology companies to fight the importation of goods found to infringe valid U.S. patents. But Congress always intended for §337 to have broader application. For example, on the environmental front, §337 would be a powerful weapon in banning the importation of fish caught in international waters using unsustainable fishing methods that are barred under U.S. law.

Jonathan J. Engler is a counsel with Adduci Mastriani & Schaumberg, LLP, an international trade law firm based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at engler@adduci.com.

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