Abitron Austria GmbH v. Hetronic International Inc.

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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The New (Old) Presumption Against Extraterritoriality

The reach of U.S. law keeps changing. For decades—in fact, off and on for more than a century—U.S. courts have turned to the presumption against extraterritoriality to determine the geographic scope of federal statutes. When the presumption changes, so does the reach of U.S. law. And the presumption has changed a lot lately. Most recently,…

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Supreme Court Roundup (October Term 2022)

During its 2022 Term, which ended four weeks ago, the Supreme Court decided five cases with important implications for transnational litigation. The questions included whether the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) applies to criminal proceedings; the standard for aiding and abetting under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA); whether states may exercise general personal jurisdiction over foreign…

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Abitron Eliminates Circuit Tests but Causes More Confusion

During the oral argument in Abitron Austria GMBH v. Hetronic International, Inc., Justices Alito, Sotomayor, Gorsuch, and Barrett all expressed concern over whether the Court should overrule its 1952 decision in Steele v. Bulova Watch Co (1952). A reader of the Court’s majority decision by Justice Alito might be surprised to see that the majority…

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Two New Supreme Court Decisions on the Presumption Against Extraterritoriality

The end of the Supreme Court’s term brought two decisions on the presumption against extraterritoriality, a significant and contested interpretive canon for federal statutes. Yegiazaryan v. Smagin ruled 6-3 that a civil RICO suit based on an alleged scheme to fraudulently conceal assets belonging to a U.S. judgment debtor had sufficient domestic content to fit…

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What is a “Domestic Application” of the Lanham Act? The Supreme Court Creates More Questions than It Answers

In Abitron Austria Gmbh v. Hetronic International, Inc., the Supreme Court appears to have returned to its recent preference for bright-line rules in cases assessing the extraterritoriality of federal statutes, but the brightness of this rule will dim as other fact patterns are considered.

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Supreme Court Holds that Trademark Statute Applies Only to Domestic Conduct

Last week, in Abitron Austria GmbH v. Hetronic International, Inc., the Supreme Court held that the federal trademark statute—known as the Lanham Act—applies only to domestic conduct infringing U.S. trademarks. The case involved foreign companies that put U.S.-protected trademarks on products that they made in Europe, most of which were sold to customers abroad, but…

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Supreme Court Holds Lanham Act Does Not Apply Extraterritorially

In Abitron Austria v. Hectronic International, the Supreme Court held that the federal trademark statute does not apply extraterritoriality, with the majority emphasizing that conduct relevant to the statute’s focus must occur within the United States.

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Ingrid (Wuerth) Brunk

Vanderbilt Law School
ingrid.wuerth@vanderbilt.eduEmail

William Dodge

UC Davis School of Law
wsdodge@ucdavis.eduEmail

Maggie Gardner

Cornell Law School
mgardner@cornell.eduEmail

John F. Coyle

University of North Carolina School of Law
jfcoyle@email.unc.eduEmail

Zachary D. Clopton

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
zclopton@law.northwestern.eduEmail

Aaron D. Simowitz

Willamette University College of Law
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Timothy D. Lytton

Georgia State University College of Law
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Chukwuma Okoli

University of Birmingham
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Abubakri Yekini

University of Manchester
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Haley Anderson

University of California Berkeley
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Brian D. Hulse

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
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Wenliang Zhang

Renmin University of China Law School
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Haoxiang Ruan

Renmin University of China Law School
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Melissa Kucinski

MKFL
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