ABITRON AUSTRIA GMBH V. HETRONIC INTERNATIONAL INC.

The Court held that the Lanham Act (the federal trademark statute) does not apply extraterritorially and that a domestic application of the statute requires use of the trademark in domestic commerce. Regarding the presumption against extraterritoriality more broadly, the majority emphasized that conduct related to a non-extraterritorial statute's focus must occur in the United States, even if the focus itself is not about conduct.

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The Extraterritorial Reach of Criminal Statutes

When federal statutes do not indicate how far they reach, courts apply a presumption against extraterritoriality to limit their geographic scope. Last year, in Abitron Austria GmbH v. Hetronic International, Inc. (2023), the Supreme Court revised the presumption by requiring conduct in the United States for a statute’s application to be considered domestic. Meanwhile, lower courts…

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Supreme Court Denies Cert in Extraterritorial Wire Fraud Case

The Supreme Court denied cert this morning in Elbaz v. United States, a case involving the extraterritorial reach of the federal wire fraud statute. The order lets stand a decision of the Fourth Circuit holding that the wire fraud statute could be applied to a scheme to defraud investors centered in Israel based on two…

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Will the Supreme Court Resolve the Circuit Split on the Geographic Scope of Wire Fraud Statute?

The federal wire fraud statute is a workhorse for federal prosecutors. In 2021, there were more than 4,500 federal prosecutions for fraud, theft, or embezzlement, constituting 8% of federal criminal cases. The wire fraud statute is particularly important in transnational fraud cases, because communicating with people in the United States using U.S. wires is considered…

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