Trade investigators limit onerous evidence-gathering

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While electronic data systems can make it easier to store and locate information, the agency argues in the rule, "some sources of electronically stored information can be accessed only with substantial burden and cost. In a particular case, these burdens and costs may make the information on such sources not reasonably accessible."

The new rule would prevent a database manager from having to undergo that burden if they can prove the excess cost of handing over the evidence.

A judge can order the information be given to investigators, however, if there is a proven reason to request the evidence.

The International Trade Commission investigates and brings hearings against cases of suspected intellectual property infringements and other unfair competition. If the commission finds that the law has been violated it can prevent products from entering the country.

The proposal was first published last October. The rule comes as the Obama administration attempts to secure key trade deals with countries in the Asia-Pacific and the European Union.