BOULDER, Colo., April 24, 2018 - Nite Ize®, a leading manufacturer of innovative solution-based accessories, won a two-year battle this week before the International Trade Commission (ITC) protecting one of its pinnacle product lines known as Steelie® against foreign companies infringing upon intellectual property rights. Effective immediately, the ITC-issued general exclusion order directs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency to bar infringing products from entry into the United States.
The patented, award-winning Nite Ize Steelie ecosystem includes a variety of products that feature a unique ball-and-socket magnetic connection that creates a convenient hands-free mobile device mounting solution. Since its launch in 2013, the innovative Steelie system has grown significantly in popularity and is widely recognized as the leader for hands-free device mounting. As a result, Nite Ize has experienced an influx of knockoff products replicating the Steelie products' designs being sold online at undercutting price points.
Adding to the problem, foreign manufacturers - located primarily in China - can ship products directly to U.S. consumers through the largest digital marketplaces using a mailing service subsidized by the U.S. Postal Service called China Post, for just over one dollar per package. This is a fraction of what domestic companies are charged to ship their own products to the United States and China Post shipments often bypass U.S. Customs. Because no legal action exists to stop online marketplaces from knockoff listings, and it is not realistic to sue hundreds of Chinese companies for infringement, Nite Ize turned to the ITC for relief.
Working with Robert Ziemian, partner at Haynes and Boone, a Texas-based law firm specializing in patent law, Nite Ize petitioned the ITC to investigate the matter on Nov.14, 2016, alleging violations by 32 Chinese companies of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 based on imports and the sales of imports within the United States of mobile device holders and components that infringed upon multiple Nite Ize patents.
On Feb. 22, 2018, the ITC filed a general exclusion order with the U.S. government. Following a 60-day review period by President Trump, the order is now final, barring import of any infringing products and prompting online marketplaces to remove all Nite Ize Steelie knockoffs manufactured by 16 of the foreign infringers.
"With the growth of enormous digital marketplaces, intellectual property infringement by foreign entities is becoming a critical issue for product manufacturers in the U.S. and not many viable options remain," Clint Todd said, Chief Legal Officer at Nite Ize. "This general exclusion order will be a powerful tool in our fight to stop the wave of knockoffs from abroad. When shipments are confiscated at customs, manufacturers may think twice before copying our products."
Nite Ize will continue to work with U.S. customs agents on what to look for in potential knockoff products shipping from foreign countries and is planning to visit ports where high numbers of knockoffs have arrived. Nite Ize is also working closely with the National Association of Manufacturers, lobbying to prevent foreign manufacturers from shipping knockoff products at greatly reduced costs, while often bypassing U.S. customs, via China Post.
"Nite Ize has been working for years to find an effective way to protect our patents against unfair foreign trade," Nite Ize Founder and CEO Rick Case said. "I am grateful to finally find justice supported by our United States International Trade Commission."
For more information about Nite Ize and the Steelie ecosystem, visit NiteIze.com.
Founded on the principles of creativity and innovation, Nite Ize designs, manufactures and distributes solution-based products with quality and performance at their core. Headquartered in Boulder, Colo., the company celebrates its 29th anniversary in 2018 and offers more than 500 innovative products and accessories in seven unique categories: Mobile, Hardware, LED Lights + Accessories, Bike, Fitness, Pet, and Games + Fun. Still captained by its founder and CEO, Rick Case, the Nite Ize team is passionate about their products, their customers, their partners and the environment.
For more information, please visit NiteIze.com.
Media Contact: Kelly Wakefield / 720-508-4741 / KWakefield@niteize.com