Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

By
Apicore owns, and Mylan Is the exclusive licensee of, the 992, 616, and 050 patents, which relate to isosulfan blue (ISB), a triarylmethane dye used to map lymph nodes. The 992 and 616 patents (together, “the process patents”) are directed to a process for preparing ISB by reacting isoleuco acid with silver oxide in a polar solvent, followed by reaction with a sodium solution. In response to Aurobindo’s FDA application to market a generic version of Myland’s drug, Lymphazurin®, Apricore and Myland obtained a preliminary injunction precluding Aurobindo from making, using, selling, offering to sell, and importing the accused ISB product that allegedly infringes the patents. The Federal Circuit affirmed. While the district court’s “equivalents analysis” was deficient and there remains a substantial question concerning infringement, so that the court’s grant of a preliminary injunction based on the process patents constituted an abuse of discretion, the injunction stands under the 050 patent. View "Mylan Institutional LLC v. Aurobindo Pharma Ltd." on Justia Law

By
In 2010, ArcelorMittal sued (050 case), alleging infringement of the 805 patent. A jury found that Defendants did not infringe and that the asserted claims were invalid as anticipated and obvious. The Federal Circuit reversed the court’s claim construction and concluded that, as a matter of law, the claims were not anticipated. In 2013, the Patent Office reissued the 805 patent as the RE153 patent. ArcelorMittal filed the 685 and 686 infringement suits based on events occurring after the reissuance and moved to amend its 050 complaint to substitute allegations of infringement of the RE153 patent. The court entered summary judgment, finding that claims 1–23 had been improperly broadened, and denied the motion to amend as moot. The Federal Circuit affirmed the invalidity of RE 153 claims 1–23, but reversed as to claims 24 and 25. On remand, the court granted defendants summary judgment of invalidity on RE 153 claims 24 and 25, denied ArcelorMittal’s motion to dismiss the 050 case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and granted ArcelorMittal’s motion to amend its 685 complaint. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The district court possessed subject matter jurisdiction to grant summary judgment, properly followed the mandate on remand, and properly exercised its discretion to deny ArcelorMittal’s request for new discovery. View "Arcelormittal v. AK Steel Corp." on Justia Law

By
Patent Board did not adequately explain why it accepted patent holder’s claim construction, but nonetheless found the claims unpatentable. Rovalma’s patent describes and claims methods for making steels with certain desired thermal conductivities. Böhler petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board for an inter partes review of claims 1–4 of the patent. The Board instituted a review, rejected Böhler’s construction of the claims, and adopted Rovalma’s construction. Böhler had not submitted arguments or evidence for unpatentability based on Rovalma’s construction. Nevertheless, the Board determined that Rovalma’s own submissions demonstrated that the claims, construed as Rovalma urged, would have been obvious to a relevant skilled artisan over the same prior art that Böhler invoked. The Federal Circuit vacated, stating that the Board did not set forth its reasoning in sufficient detail for determination what inferences it drew from Rovalma’s submissions, making it impossible to determine whether the Board’s decision was substantively supported and procedurally proper. View "Rovalma, S.A. v. Bohler-Edelstahl GMBH & Co. KG" on Justia Law

By
Statements made by the patent owner during an inter partes review (IPR) proceeding, whether before or after an institution decision, can be relied upon to support a finding of prosecution disclaimer. Aylus’s patent “provides systems and methods for implementing digital home networks having a control point located on a wide area network.” It teaches various network architectures for streaming and displaying media content using combinations of networked components. The Patent Office initiated IPR on two claims while Aylus’s infringement suit was pending. In its response to Apple’s request for IPR, Aylus made statements that the court subsequently characterized as constituting “clear and unmistakable surrender” of certain methods. The district court entered summary judgment, finding that Apple’s AirPlay feature did not infringe the patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding construction of the limitation “wherein the CPP logic is invoked to negotiate media content delivery between the MS and the MR” to “require that only the CPP logic is invoked to negotiate media content delivery between the MS and the MR, in contrast to claims 1 and 20 which require both the CP and CPP to negotiate media content delivery.” Aylus’s statements during IPR were a clear and unmistakable disavowal of claim scope. View "Aylus Networks, Inc. v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law

By
District court properly awarded “exceptional case” legal fees. In 2005, Dow filed an infringement action against NOVA, which argued that its product did not infringe and that Dow lacked standing because it had transferred ownership of the patents. In 2010, the district court entered judgment against NOVA for $61 million. The Federal Circuit affirmed. In a separate appeal from an award of supplemental damages, the Federal Circuit found the asserted claims invalid as indefinite under the Supreme Court’s intervening “Nautilus” standard, but did not disturb the 2010 judgment relating to preverdict infringement. NOVA became aware of evidence allegedly showing that Dow had committed fraud in obtaining the 2010 judgment but was time-barred from moving to set aside that judgment. In 2013, NOVA filed a separate action in equity for relief from the 2010 judgment, asserting misrepresentation of Dow’s ownership of the asserted patents, based on the testimony of a former Dow employee in an unrelated tax case and on the testimony of Dow’s expert, about testing on the accused product during separate Canadian litigation. The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal. The district court awarded Dow $2.5 million under 35 U.S.C. 285, which allows courts to award “reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party” in “exceptional cases.” The court noted the weakness of NOVA’s litigating position and the manner in which NOVA pursued the case. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Nova Chemicals Corp. v. Dow Chemical Co." on Justia Law

By
AT&T’s patent is directed to a method of compressing and transmitting transform coefficients in a manner that does not rely on scanning the coefficients in any particular order; all of the coefficients in a block are transmitted at once. Days before the America Invents Act inter partes review procedures went into effect, LG requested inter partes reexamination of the patent, alleging anticipation. Before the PTO decided whether to initiate reexamination, LG asked the PTO to suspend its rule prohibiting a requester from filing documents between requesting inter partes reexamination and the PTO’s initial office action on the merits so that it could file a second request, requesting denial of its initial request. LG did not withdraw, nor did it withdraw its reexamination request. The PTO granted LG’s initial request and declined to suspend the rules. The examiner found new grounds of rejection. While discussions between AT&T and the examiner were ongoing, LG withdrew. The examiner suspended the prohibition against interviews during inter partes reexamination proceedings. Before any amendment, the examiner issued an Action Closing Prosecution that explained a different basis for finding the patent anticipated. The Board and the Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board did not exceed its statutory authority when instituting the reexamination and substantial evidence supported the finding of anticipation. View "In re: AT&T Intellectual Property II" on Justia Law

By
Claims in patent relating to fiber optic communication signals were unpatentable for lack of written description support. Cirrex’s 082 patent is directed to the field of fiber optic communication signals that use light energy made up of multiple different wavelengths within one fiber optic cable. Cisco requested inter partes reexamination of the patent. The Patent and Trademark Office found certain claims patentable and rejected other claims for lack of written description support. The Board affirmed. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part, finding that, under the correct claim construction for the equalization and discrete attenuation claims, all the claims on appeal unpatentable for lack of written description support. View "Cisco Systems, Inc. v. Cirrex Systems, LLC" on Justia Law

By
Shareholders lacked standing to challenge, as an illegal exaction, U.S. government’s acquisition of AIG stock as loan collateral. In 2008, during one of the worst financial crises of the last century, American International Group (AIG) was on the brink of bankruptcy and sought emergency financing. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York granted AIG an $85 billion loan, the largest such loan to date. The U.S. Government received a majority stake in AIG’s equity under the loan, which the Government eventually converted into common stock and sold. One of AIG’s largest shareholders, Starr, filed suit alleging that the Government’s acquisition of AIG equity and subsequent actions relating to a reverse stock split were unlawful. The Claims Court held that the Government’s acquisition of AIG equity constituted an illegal exaction in violation of the Federal Reserve Act, 12 U.S.C. 343, but declined to grant relief for either that or for Starr’s reverse-stock-split claims. The Federal Circuit vacated in part, holding that Starr and the shareholders it represented lack standing to pursue the equity acquisition claims directly, as those claims belong exclusively to AIG, rendering the merits of those claims moot. The court affirmed as to Starr’s reverse-stock-split claims. View "Starr International Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

By
Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act (VACAA) provisions vesting significant authority in administrative judges violates Appointments Clause. In 2014, Congress investigated reports that senior executives in the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) had manipulated hospital performance metrics by maintaining secret wait lists of veterans who needed care. The resulting VACAA established new rules for the removal of DVA Senior Executive employees, 38 U.S.C. 713. Previously, senior DVA executives could only be removed under the Civil Service Reform Act, 5 U.S.C. 1101, and were entitled to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), to a hearing, and to attorney representation. Section 713 created an accelerated timeline for MSPB appeals and required the MSPB to refer all appeals to an administrative judge (AJ) for decision within 21 days. Helman, the Director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, was removed from her position under section 713. An MSPB AJ affirmed. Helman sought review from the full Board. Citing section 713(e)(2), the Board refused to take any further action. The Federal Circuit remanded, holding that, by prohibiting Board review under section 713(e)(2), Congress vested significant authority in an AJ in violation of the Appointments Clause. Section 713(e)(2) and two related sections are severable, leaving the remainder of the statute intact. View "Helman v. Department of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law

By
Tightened security at base, preventing access by contractor's ex-felon employees, did not justify contract adjustment. Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, houses intercontinental ballistic missiles. Garco's contract to construct base housing incorporated Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.222-3, providing that contractors may employ ex-felons and requiring contractors to adhere to the base access policy. Malstrom’s access policy indicated that it would run the employees’ names through the National Criminal Information Center. “Unfavorable results will be scrutinized and eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case basis.” Garco’s subcontractor, JTC, experienced difficulty bringing its crew onto the base. JTC used workers from a local prison’s pre-release facility. JTC had not encountered access problems in its performance of other Malmstrom contracts over the preceding 20 years. Security had been tightened after an incident where a prerelease facility worker beat his manager. JTC requested an equitable adjustment of the contract, stating that its inability to use convict labor greatly reduced the size of the experienced labor pool so that it incurred $454,266.44 of additional expenses; JTC did not request a time extension. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals’ denial of the claim, rejecting a claim of constructive acceleration of the contract. The court concluded that there was no change to the base access policy. View "Garco Construction, Inc. v. Secretary of the Army" on Justia Law