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U.S. Steel drops Chinese cybertheft claim

Part of U.S. Steel's Minntac facility. News Tribune file

U.S. Steel is withdrawing a cybertheft claim against Chinese steelmakers, saying the law doesn't adequately cover such a crime.

"When we filed the case, we highlighted the significant cyber threat every company faces, and we began a dialogue about the need to reform our antiquated laws," U.S. Steel said in a press release Tuesday. "When there is active movement in this direction, we will be able to evaluate the best next steps for our trade secrets claim."

U.S. Steel alleges production techniques for its next-generation steel was stolen through industrial espionage by Chinese actors in 2011.

The Pittsburgh-based company with a major presence on the Iron Range filed complaints with the U.S. International Trade Commission last spring alleging Chinese price fixing, tariff circumvention and theft of trade secrets. U.S. Steel is still pursuing the first two charges, which are being investigated by the ITC.

The company is specifically relying on Section 337 of the U.S. Tariff Act of 1930 to pursue its complaints.

"While Section 337 offers U.S. companies the ability to seek relief against unfair methods of competition and the items being unfairly imported as a result of those actions, the decades-old law never contemplated the technological advancements over the past 50 years that have led to the proliferation of cybertheft and other cyber crimes committed against American companies," U.S. Steel wrote.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

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