One of the great things about the Internet is that it does not have national borders. When a company in Tokyo sends a digital file to a company in New York, the data does not have to clear customs. But the outcome of a federal appeals court case could hinder that free flow of information.
The case involves digital files containing information on dental aligners, used to straighten teeth, sent over the Internet by a company in Pakistan to a business in Texas. Last year, the United States International Trade Commission, a relatively obscure federal agency, ruled that the Texas company, ClearCorrect, could not import those files because they violated patents owned by Align Technology. ClearCorrect has appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C., which is scheduled to hear the case on Tuesday.