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

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Fedora began working for the Postal Service in 1980 and retired in 2012, then filed an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board alleging that his retirement was involuntary and amounted to constructive discharge. He claimed that he was forced to perform work in violation of his medical restrictions, was harassed, and was threatened with loss of his pension. An administrative judge found that Fedora had failed to make a non-frivolous allegation and dismissed. The Board issued a final order affirming the AJ’s decision, stating that the Federal Circuit “must receive [his] request for review no later than 60 calendar days after the date of [the Board’s] order.” . He filed a petition for review on October 20, 2014, within 60 days of his receipt of the order (August 19), but not within 60 days of issuance of the notice (August 15). Fedora argued that the Board’s final order directed him to the court's “Guide for Pro Se Petitioners and Appellants,” which incorrectly instructed that a petitioner “may file a petition for review in this court within 60 days of receipt of the Board’s decision.” The Federal Circuit dismissed his petition for lack of jurisdiction, 5 U.S.C. 7703(b)(1)(A), stating that it lacks authority to equitably toll the filing requirements. View "Fedora v. Merit Systems Protection Board" on Justia Law

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Scag, which manufactures commercial riding lawnmowers, developed a suspended operator platform for a ride-on lawnmower or other riding light utility vehicle connected to a rigid chassis by a suspension system. The operator platform supports the entire body of the operator. The suspension system suspends the operator platform from the chassis in a manner that isolates an operator from vibrations, or shock loads, generated by the mower during use or when driven over uneven terrain. The operator platform can suspend or isolate some controls from the rigid chassis. Scag commercialized the system, which is disclosed in the 475 patent, in its Cheetah line of lawnmowers. In 2015, Toro introduced riding lawnmowers with suspended operator platforms to compete with Scag’s Cheetah line. The steering controls in Toro’s riding lawnmowers are connected to the chassis, not the operator platform. Scag filed an infringement action and obtained a preliminary injunction. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding that Scag established a likelihood of success that the accused products infringe claim 21 of the 475 patent and that there is not a substantial question of validity as to claim 21. View "Metalcraft of Mayville, Inc. v. Toro Co." on Justia Law

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Organik and Dow both manufacture opaque polymers, hollow spheres used as additives to increase paint’s opacity. Dow has maintained its worldwide market-leader position through a combination of patent and trade-secret protections. Dow filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission requesting an investigation into whether Organik’s opaque polymer products infringed four Dow patents. The Commission granted Dow’s request, and the parties began discovery. During the proceedings, Dow amended its complaint to add allegations of trade secret misappropriation when it discovered that Organik may have coordinated the production of its opaque polymers with the assistance of former Dow employees. As Dow attempted to obtain discovery relating to the activities of those employees, Dow discovered spoliation of evidence “on a staggering scale.” The Federal Circuit affirmed the Commission’s imposition of default judgment and entry of a limited exclusion order against Organik as sanctions for the spoliation of evidence. Organik’s “willful, bad faith misconduct” deprived Dow of its ability to pursue its trade secret misappropriation claim effectively. The record supports the limited exclusion order of 25 years with the opportunity for Organik to bypass that order at any time if it can show that it has developed its opaque polymers without using Dow’s misappropriated trade secrets. View "Organik Kimya v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law

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Xilinx a Delaware corporation headquartered in California, develops and markets programmable logic devices for electronics systems. Papst, organized and having its principal place of business in Germany, is a nonpracticing entity that does not manufacture or sell products. Papst’s website describes “a global patent licensing and monetization firm specialized in enforcing infringed patents with the goal to conclude a license agreement with the infringer.” Papst has repeatedly filed patent infringement suits in California federal courts. Before acquiring the patents-in-suit, Papst investigated potential infringers and targets for licensing, including 28 companies based, or having significant presence, in California. Papst sent a patent-infringement notice letter and a follow-up letter to Xilinx. Papst’s managing director, its senior counsel, and its Texas-based outside counsel, traveled to California to meet with Xilinx. No agreement was reached. Xilinx sought a declaratory judgment, in the Northern District of California, that Xilinx’s products do not infringe the patents-in-suit and that the patents are invalid. Papst filed an infringement suit against Xilinx in the District of Delaware asserting the same patents. The California court dismissed the declaratory judgment action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit reversed; the court has specific personal jurisdiction over Papst. Considering the totality of circumstances, the court found “sufficient minimum contacts” and that the exercise of jurisdiction would not be unreasonable. View "Xilinx, Inc. v. Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the Department of Commerce initiated an antidumping-duty investigation of multilayered wood flooring from China (19 U.S.C. 1673a(b)) and sent questionnaires to Chinese exporters and producers, selecting the three largest exporters as mandatory respondents. Commerce deems China to be a nonmarket economy and presumes that each Chinese exporter and producer is state-controlled, and covered by a single China-wide antidumping-duty rate, but a firm may rebut the presumption. Commerce determined that 74 firms established their independence from the Chinese government (not individually investigated, but not covered by the China-wide rate) and calculated a “separate rate.” Commerce did not individually investigate the appellants to determine firm-specific dumping margins. It assigned them a rate that, though not specified numerically, was declared to be more than de minimis, even though it found zero or de minimis dumping margins for all three of the Chinese firms that were individually investigated. The Trade Court affirmed. The Federal Circuit subsequently held that the “separate rate” method used in this case was a departure from the congressionally-approved “expected method” applicable when all of the individually investigated firms have a zero or de minimis rate, and that certain findings are necessary to justify such a departure. Under the “expected method,” appellants would be entitled to a de minimis rate. Because Commerce did not make the necessary findings, the Federal Circuit vacated. View "Changzhou Hawd Flooring Co. v. United States" on Justia Law
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Personal Web’s patent describes and claims methods (or devices for carrying out methods) of locating data and controlling access by giving a data file a substantially unique “True Name” that depends on its content. The patent describes generating a True Name using mathematical algorithms (hash functions) that use a file’s contents to generate a small-size identifier. It calls for comparing that name with values in a network, determining whether a user is authorized to access the data, and providing or denying access based on that determination. Apple petitioned for inter partes review, arguing unpatentability under 35 U.S.C. 103, for obviousness based on a combination of one reference that focuses on a system for backing up or restoring data and one that focuses on a system for managing rights to access data. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board agreed with Apple. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s claim construction of “content-dependent name,” “content-based identifier,” and “digital identifier,” but vacated the obviousness determination because the Board did not adequately support its findings that the prior art disclosed all elements of the challenged claims and that a relevant skilled artisan would have had a motivation to combine the references to produce the claimed inventions with a reasonable expectation of success. View "Personal Web Technologies, LLC v. Apple, Inc." on Justia Law

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MPHJ’s 173 Patent, entitled “Distributed Computer Architecture and Process for Document Management,” describes a system and method that “extends the notion of copying from a process that involves paper going through a conventional copier device, to a process that involves paper being scanned from a device at one location and copied to a device at another location.” The patent calls its invention a “Virtual Copier” whose purpose is “to enable a typical PC user to add electronic paper processing to their existing business process,” and states that it replicates an image “using a single GO or START button, to do a similar operation in software so that the image gets seamlessly replicated into other devices or applications or the Internet.” The Patent Trial and Appeals Board, on inter partes review, found certain claims invalid for anticipation of obviousness. The Federal Circuit affirmed, citing Supreme Court precedent that “when unexpired patents are reviewed by the Board, the claims are given their broadest reasonable interpretation consistent with the specification and the prosecution history, from the viewpoint of persons skilled in the field of the invention,” and upholding the Board’s constructions of the claim terms “application” and “rendering.” View "MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC v. Ricoh Americas Corp." on Justia Law

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Chengde is a Chinese producer of oil country tubular goods (OCTG), steel tubing products used in oil and gas drilling, and ATP is the importer of record during the relevant period. In 2011, the Department of Commerce initiated the first administrative review of the antidumping duty order directed to OCTG from China and selected Chengde as a mandatory respondent. Because China is considered a nonmarket economy country, Commerce selected Indonesia, a market economy country, as the primary surrogate country from which it would use surrogate values to ascertain Chengde’s factors of production. In the Final Results, Commerce assigned Chengde a dumping margin of 162.69%. The Trade Court and Federal Circuit affirmed, finding that Commerce’s antidumping duty calculations were supported by substantial evidence and otherwise in accordance with law. The court rejected challenges to Commerce’s decision to use a simple average of surrogate values for carbon steel billets and alloy steel billets for the untested OCTG; its denial of scrap byproduct offset; and its treatment of international freight as nonmarket economy transactions. View "American Tubular Products, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law
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Shire sued Watson for infringing the 720 patent by filing an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) with the FDA seeking to market a generic version of Shire’s drug, LIALDA®. The patent is directed to a controlled-release oral pharmaceutical composition of mesalamine used to treat inflammatory bowel diseases. The district court rejected Watson’s invalidity arguments that the patent lacked written description and enablement, and held that Watson infringed two claims. On appeal, and again after remand from the Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit stated that the matrix compositions are “limited by the Markush groups” added during prosecution “to overcome the examiner’s rejection of the claims as obvious” and that “the correct construction requires that the inner volume contain substances from the group described for the inner lipophilic matrix (which are all lipophilic substances), and that the outer volume separately contain substances from the group described for the outer hydrophilic matrix (which are all hydrophilic).” On remand, the district court concluded that Watson’s ANDA Product satisfied the “inner lipophilic matrix” and “outer hydrophilic matrix” limitations and satisfied the Markush limitations because the excipients falling outside the respective Markush groups were “unrelated” to the invention since they did not drive the water-affinity property of their respective matrices. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to enter judgment of non-infringement. Watson’s ANDA Product does not satisfy the Markush group requirements. View "Shire Development, LLC v. Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

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Within the Department of Defense, DRMS disposes of surplus military property at Defense Reutilization and Marketing Offices (DRMOs). Property that cannot be reutilized is demilitarized and/or reduced to scrap that can be sold. A 2007 DRMS Request for Proposals sought performance of DRMO activities for up to five years. A referenced website showed DRMS’s historical workload and scrap weight; an amendment indicated that “the contractor may experience significant workload increases or decreases” and outlined a process to “renegotiate the price” if workload increased. DRMS awarded its first contract to Agility to operate six DRMOs for one base year with four option years at a fixed price of $45,233,914.92 per year. Upon commencing work in Arifjan, the largest of the DRMOs, Agility immediately fell behind. It inherited a backlog of approximately 30 weeks. From the start, the volume received at Arifjan was greater than Agility anticipated. The parties terminated their contract for convenience in 2010. Agility thereafter requested funding for its additional costs, claiming DRMS provided inaccurate workload estimates during solicitation. The contracting officer awarded Agility only $236,363.93 for its first claim and nothing for the second, noting that Agility received an offset from its scrap sales. The Federal Circuit reversed, as “clearly erroneous,” the Claims Court’s findings that DRMS did not inadequately or negligently prepare its estimates and that Agility did not rely on those estimates. Agility’s receipt of scrap sales and the parties’ agreement did not preclude recovery. View "Agility Defense & Government Services, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law