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

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Kennedy enrolled at George Washington University (GWU) in 2003. He obtained a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship in 2005, agreeing to complete Officer Candidate School (OCS), a requirement which is not waivable. The scholarship provided that if Kennedy failed to complete the requirements, he could become liable to reimburse the program. Kennedy subsequently suffered trauma and began to act abnormally. During his OCS course, his platoon commander recommended that Kennedy be disenrolled as emotionally unstable. In June 2006, a Commanding Officer’s Board disenrolled Kennedy from OCS without opportunity to return. NROTC stopped funding Kennedy’s education. In February 2007, the Assistant Secretary approved disenrollment with recoupment of $50,675. After graduation from GWU in 2007, Kennedy graduated from law school, was admitted to the bar, and filed suit. The Claims Court directed the case to the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR), a civilian body that exists to correct Naval Records. The BCNR upheld Kennedy’s disenrollment, but held that Kennedy should be relieved from reimbursement because he had been dissuaded from appearing at a hearing. The Claims Court held that Kennedy’s disenrollment was lawful and that his breach-of-contract claims for monetary relief lacked merit. The Federal Circuit reversed. Given the government’s concession that Kennedy’s due process rights were violated when he was dissuaded from attending his hearing, the Claims Court erred in concluding that Kennedy’s disenrollment was inevitable. The court directed the case be returned to the BCNR. View "Kennedy v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Budget Control Act of 2011 established spending limits for federal agencies and required automatic spending cuts (sequestration) if certain deficit reduction legislation was not enacted. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 required the President to issue a sequestration order near the middle of fiscal year 2013. Under President Obama’s sequestration the Department of Defense (DOD) 2013 budget was cut by approximately 37 billion dollars, to be absorbed over six months. The DOD reprogrammed funds, reduced facility maintenance, eliminated some military training exercises, and furloughed civilian workers. Calhoun is a non-excepted civilian Doctrine Defense Specialist for the Army Cyber Command (ACC). ACC Commander Lt. Gen. Hernandez, the deciding official, delegated that authority to his Chief of Staff, Col. Sanborn. Calhoun received a Notice of Proposed Furlough. Calhoun replied, including budget proposals she asserted would prevent furloughs. In responses to Calhoun, Col. Sanborn stated that he had read her submissions and that “[t]he furlough guidance … is clear.” Calhoun was furloughed for six nonconsecutive days. An administrative judge found that delegation to Col. Sanborn did not violate DOD policy; that Col. Sanborn appropriately considered Calhoun’s reply; and that evaluation of the merits of her proposals was beyond the scope of his review. The Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Circuit affirmed, finding no due process violation because Col. Sanborn considered Calhoun’s written reply and because a summary of her oral reply would not have altered the furlough decision. View "Calhoun v. Department of the Army" on Justia Law

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Eli Lilly’s 209 patent, issued in 2010, relates to methods of administering the chemotherapy drug pemetrexed disodium after pretreatment with common vitamins—folic acid and vitamin B12. Pemetrexed is an antifolate that kills cancer cells by inhibiting the function of folates, a class of nutrients necessary for cell reproduction. The vitamin pretreatments reduce the toxicity of pemetrexed. Eli Lilly markets pemetrexed under the brand name ALIMTA®, and the drug is used to treat certain types of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Around 2008–2009, Defendants notified Eli Lilly that they had submitted Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs) seeking FDA approval to market generic versions of ALIMTA®. After the 209 patent issued, Defendants filed Paragraph IV certifications under 21 U.S.C. 355(j)(2)(A)(vii)(IV), declaring that the 209 patent was invalid, unenforceable, or would not be infringed. Eli Lilly filed suit for infringement under 35 U.S.C. 271(e)(2). The district court found and the Federal Circuit affirmed that, while no single actor performs all steps of the asserted claims because the actions of both physicians and patients are required, under Akamai Technologies (Fed. Cir. 2015), there was direct infringement attributable to physicians. Defendants are liable for inducing that infringement. The court asserted claims were not invalid for indefiniteness, obviousness, or obviousness-type double patenting. View "Eli Lilly and Co. v. Teva Parenteral Medicines, Inc." on Justia Law

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Schlumberger, an oil well services provider, imported bauxite proppants from China for use in providing hydraulic fracturing services to U.S. customers. The subject merchandise, when combined with other materials after importation, increased oil well productivity by preventing fractures in rock formations from closing. U.S. Customs & Border Protection classified the subject merchandise under Subheading 6909.19.50 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). That subheading, with a duty rate of four percent, covers “Ceramic wares for laboratory, chemical, or other technical uses; ceramic troughs, tubs and similar receptacles of a kind used in agriculture; ceramic pots, jars and similar articles of a kind used for the conveyance or packing of goods: Other: Other.” The Trade Court rejected that classification and entered summary judgment that the subject merchandise should enter under HTSUS 2606.00.00, as “Aluminum ores and concentrates: Bauxite, calcined: Other.” The Federal Circuit affirmed, after examining the products listed in the subheadings proposed by Customs and noting that, unlike the listed products, the subject proppants do not possess a definite form. View "Schlumberger Technology Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law
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The 856 patent generally relates to “huMab4D5 ANTI-ErbB2 antibody-maytansinoid conjugates.” The claimed methods of treatment purport to combat a variety of cancers. ImmunoGen provided Genentech with a “worldwide exclusive license,” which Genentech uses to produce the drug Kadcyla®TM. Phigenix, “a for-profit discovery stage biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and biomedical research company” that focuses “on the use of novel molecular therapeutics” designed to fight cancer, sought inter partes review. The Patent Board found the asserted claims of the 856 patent nonobvious. The Federal Circuit dismissed an appeal for lack of standing, finding that Phigenix has not offered sufficient proof establishing that it has suffered an injury in fact. Phigenix does not contend that it faces risk of infringing the 856 patent, that it is an actual or prospective licensee of the patent, or that it otherwise plans to take any action that would implicate the patent. Phigenix only claimed that it has suffered an actual economic injury because the 856 patent increases competition between itself and ImmunoGen; “‘[i]ncreased competition represents a cognizable Article III injury,’” View "Phigenix, Inc. v. Immunogen, Inc." on Justia Law

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Walker filed suit in December 2012, alleging patent infringement. In May 2014, Walker and HSN, both represented by counsel, entered into a Mediated Settlement Agreement, requiring that HSN pay Walker $200,000; Walker was to deliver a release and the parties were to stipulate to dismissal. On May 9, HSN moved to stay deadlines based on the Agreement “that resolves all claims.” Walker opposed the motion, stating that “significant issues” remained. The court denied HSN’s motion. On May 12, HSN sought reconsideration, filing the Agreement and a memorandum arguing that all claims were resolved. During May, Walker moved to file a Third Amended Complaint, moved to set a Markman Hearing, and opposed the filing of the Agreement. On May 29, HSN moved to enforce the Agreement, attaching correspondence from Walker’s counsel acknowledging that the case was settled, but requesting additional discovery. Walker delivered a general release and HSN forwarded the $200,000 payment. Walker filed motions opposing enforcement and attorneys’ fees for HSN. HSN sought sanctions based on Walker’s “meritless filings … on a matter that has been fully resolved.” At a status conference, both parties agreed the case should be dismissed, but disagreed about over what the court retained jurisdiction. The court dismissed and awarded HSN “reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs resulting from Plaintiff’s vexatious actions after the filing of the Notice of Settlement.” Walker unsuccessfully sought reconsideration, then filed an unsuccessful objection to fees. In April 2015, the court entered final judgment awarding HSN $20,511.50 in attorneys’ fees. The Federal Circuit affirmed and, finding Walker’s appeal frivolous, awarded damages and double costs under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 38. View "Walker v. Health International Corp." on Justia Law

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Sonix’s patent describes a system and method for using a “graphical indicator” (matrix of small dots) to encode information on an object’s surface. It includes an “optical device” that can read the graphical indicator and output further information. In 2010, Sonix alleged that GeneralPlus’s children’s books using dot pattern technology infringed the patent. Following reexamination, the Patent Office confirmed the patentability of the asserted claims. Weeks later, GeneralPlus requested another ex parte reexamination, asserting that the combination of two patents would have led to a visually negligible indicator. The examiner confirmed patentability based on the declaration of an expert, specifically indicating that the combination of cited references did not disclose a visually-negligible graphical indicator. In 2013, Sonix alleged that Defendants infringed the asserted claims. Defendants’ initial contentions identified 28 claim limitations as indefinite. The list did not include the term “visually negligible.” The district court held that the claims were indefinite under 35 U.S.C. 112, reasoning that “visually negligible” is “purely subjective” and that the claim language did not provide guidance. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that that the written description and prosecution history provide sufficient support to inform with reasonable certainty those skilled in the art of the scope of the invention. The court noted the examiner’s knowing allowance of claims based on the term “visually negligible,” plus the acceptance of the term by both parties’ experts. View "Sonix Technology Co., Ltd. v. Publications International, Ltd." on Justia Law
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The 470 application is directed to a touchscreen interface in a portable electronic device that allows a user to rearrange icons. The claims at issue recite the initiation of an “interface reconfiguration mode” to permit icon rearrangement. The claims distinguish among a “first user touch” to open an application, a longer “second user touch” to initiate the interface reconfiguration mode, and a “subsequent user movement” to move an icon. The Patent Board affirmed that claims 38–41 would have been obvious over the Hawkins patent, which discloses a personal communication device with a touch-sensitive screen, and the Gillespie publication, disclosing an interface on a computer touch pad with an unactivated state and an activated state, in which icons are functional and can be removed or rearranged. The Federal Circuit vacated, noting the lack of any reasoning or analysis to support finding a motivation to add Gillespie’s disclosure to Hawkins beyond stating it would have been an “intuitive way” to initiate Hawkins’ editing mode. View "In re: Van Os" on Justia Law
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In 2003, following a physical examination, Contreras, 13 years old, received the Tetanus-Diphtheria and Hepatitis B vaccines. About 24 hours later, he was diagnosed with atypical Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), a peripheral nervous system disease that causes descending paralysis. Three months later, Contreras was discharged from the hospital with a diagnosis of Transverse Myelitis (TM), an inflammatory disease of the spinal cord. His petition for compensation under the Vaccine Act, accompanied by an expert report indicating that he developed both conditions as a result of the vaccines, was denied, on the basis that the time interval between the administration of Contreras’s vaccines and the onset of TM was too short to establish causation. Contreras submitted the expert report of pediatric neurologist concerning his rapid adverse immunological response. In 2012, a Special Master concluded that Contreras failed to establish that the TM arose within a “medically appropriate” timeframe. Following a remand from the Claims Court, the government disclosed that the medical license of its expert (Sladsky) was suspended during the time that he had provided witness services in this case. The Special Master again denied compensation, stating that Sladky’s opinion “retain[ed] some value” and that Contreras did not suffer from GBS—a violation of the court’s instruction to refrain from diagnosing Contreras. The Claims Court again remanded, with instructions to address Sladky’s credibility in light of his misrepresentations and to issue an alternative ruling that disregards Sladky’s testimony. The Special Master denied compensation. The Claims Court denied review based on the time interval. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Special Master improperly diagnosed Contreras and failed to consider evidence relevant to his GBS. View "Contreras v. Secretary of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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Ethicon’s 844 patent relates to intraluminal medical devices for the local delivery of drugs, e.g., drug-eluting stents, and methods for maintaining drugs on those devices. Angioplasty can be used to alleviate blockages of blood vessels, but expansion of the balloon catheter during angioplasty can result in injury to the smooth muscle cells within the vessel wall, which can lead to restenosis, the gradual re-closure of the vessel. The 844 patent teaches that stent coatings themselves, and stent coatings delivering drugs locally, may be capable of reducing restenosis. Following inter partes reexamination, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed the examiner’s rejection of several claims as obvious. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s factual findings that the claimed invention is merely the simple substitution of a coating known to be useful in in vivo applications, including stents, in a weight ratio known to provide a good balance between strength and elasticity, for that coating. View "In re: Ethicon, Inc." on Justia Law