Can the Lanham Act apply to the conduct of foreign entities occurring entirely outside the United States and, if so, what is the test? The Supreme Court will soon decide this issue in Abitron v. Hetronic, potentially resolving a long-standing circuit split where six different tests presently co-exist. It will mark the first time since the Court’s 1952 ruling in Steele v. Bulova Watch Co. that it has spoken on extraterritoriality as it relates to the Lanham Act. Steele found that the Lanham Act does apply to a U.S. citizen using a registered U.S. trademark on spurious Bulova watches, many of which were bought by U.S. citizens in Mexico and brought back to the United States. Steele did not address whether the defendant’s U.S. citizenship, or his sourcing of parts from U.S. suppliers, were necessary conditions to subject matter jurisdiction. Enter Hetronic.
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