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Doorknobs with integral locks, imported by Home Depot, were classified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as locks under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) heading 8301. Home Depot argued that the products should have been classified under HTSUS heading 8302 as metal fittings for doors, including metal doorknobs. The International Trade Court affirmed. The Federal Circuit vacated, holding that the products are properly classified as composite goods within the meaning of HTSUS General Rule of Interpretation 3(b). The court remanded to the Trade Court to make a finding as to the “essential nature” of the composite goods, as directed by GRI 3(b), in order to determine under which of the two competing headings the goods should be classified. The two headings “each refer to part only” of the materials in the composite goods, and, according to GRI 3(a), the competing headings must be regarded as equally specific. View "Home Depot U.S.A., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) entered into a “Cooperative Agreement” with St. Bernard Parish under the Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, 31 U.S.C. 6301–08. Under the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, NRCS was “authorized to assist [St. Bernard] in relieving hazards created by natural disasters that cause a sudden impairment of a watershed.” NRCS agreed to “provide 100 percent ($4,318,509.05) of the actual costs of the emergency watershed protection measures,” and to reimburse the Parish. St. Bernard contracted with Omni for removing sediment in Bayou Terre Aux Boeufs for $4,290,300.00, predicated on the removal of an estimated 119,580 cubic yards of sediment. Omni completed the project. Despite having removed only 49,888.69 cubic yards of sediment, Omni billed $4,642,580.58. NRCS determined that it would reimburse St. Bernard only $2,849,305.60. Omni and St. Bernard executed a change order that adjusted the contract price to $3,243,996.37. St. Bernard paid Omni then sought reimbursement from NRCS. NRCS reimbursed $355,866.21 less than St. Bernard claims it is due. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Parish’s lawsuit, filed under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491(a)(1), for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. In the Federal Crop Insurance Reform and Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994, 7 U.S.C. 6991–99, Congress created a detailed, comprehensive scheme providing private parties with the right of administrative review of adverse decisions by particular agencies within the Department of Agriculture, including NRCS. View "St. Bernard Parish Government v. United States" on Justia Law

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CenTrak’s 909 patent, entitled “Methods and Systems for Synchronized Ultrasonic Real Time Location,” relates to systems for real-time location (RTL), which allow users to locate and identify portable devices in a facility. Hospitals, for example, might use RTL systems to track equipment and patients. The asserted claims generally recite five components: ultrasonic (US) base stations; portable devices (i.e., tags); a server; radio frequency (RF) base stations; and a backbone network that connects the server with the RF base stations. In an infringement suit, the district court entered summary judgment several claims invalid for lack of written description and that other claims were not infringed. The Federal Circuit reversed, finding that genuine issues of material fact remain as to whether disclosure of the implementation details that the district court identified is necessary to satisfy the written description requirement; there is a material dispute of fact as to whether the named inventors actually possessed an ultrasonic RTL system at the time they filed their patent application or whether they were “leaving it to the industry to complete an unfinished invention.” CenTrak’s evidence raised a triable issue of fact regarding infringement. View "CenTrak, Inc. v. Sonitor Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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Cerwonka, a full-time clinical psychologist for the VA in Alexandria, Louisiana, also maintained a private practice and evaluated social security disability applicants. An administrative complaint was filed against Cerwonka with the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, which revoked Cerwonka’s license to practice psychology in Louisiana for cause. The VA Chief of Staff proposed to remove Cerwonka for failure to maintain a current license, citing 38 U.S.C. 7402(f). Cerwonka did not respond to the notice of proposed removal. The deciding official sustained the charge and informed Cerwonka that he would be removed from employment. Cerwonka appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). He also filed suit challenging the license revocation, asserting due process violations. One month after his removal the Louisiana district court judge reinstated Cerwonka’s license, pending further proceedings. A Louisiana Court of Appeal reversed the district court’s decision and remanded. The MSPB and Federal Circuit upheld his removal from employment. It is undisputed that, at the time of his removal, Cerwonka’s Louisiana license was revoked for cause, which compelled the agency to remove Cerwonka from his position as a psychologist under 38 U.S.C. 7402(f). View "Cerwonka v. Department of Veterans Affairs." on Justia Law

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Continental’s 582, 560, 105, and 912 patents are directed to a “multilayer electrical device . . . having a tooth structure” and methods for making the same. The patents, which have since expired, are continuations of one another and thus share substantially the same specification. According to the patents, multilayer electric devices “suffer from delamination, blistering, and other reliability problems,” especially when “subjected to thermal stress.” The inventions of the patents purport to solve this problem by “forming a unique surface structure . . . comprised of teeth that are preferably angled or hooked like fangs or canine teeth to enable one layer to mechanically grip a second layer.” Continental sued. The parties stipulated to a judgment of noninfringement, based on the district court’s claim construction. The Federal Circuit vacated. The district court erred in reading a “repeated desmear process” limitation into the Category 1 Terms. View "Continental Circuits LLC v. Intel Corp." on Justia Law

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Before selling their business, Page Printing, the Pettinatis followed the tax strategy suggested by their attorney and formed BASR, a general partnership. BASR assumed Treasury Note obligations, which increased its cost basis; each of the partners contributed all their Page shares to BASR in 1999. Two months later, BASR sold 100% of its Page stock for $6,898,245. When offset against its overstated cost basis, BASR realized a gain of only $263,934. The Pettinati partners reported their shares on their 1999 individual returns. In 2010, the IRS issued a final partnership administrative adjustment (FPAA), disallowing the tax benefits generated from BASR’s 1999 tax filing. Pettinati challenged the FPAA as untimely under I.R.C. 6501(a)’s three-year statute of limitations. BASR had “zero assets,” and had filed its last partnership return in 1999. BASR offered the government $1.00 to settle; the government refused. In 2013, the Claims Court granted BASR summary judgment. The Federal Circuit affirmed. In 2016, BASR sought litigation costs under 26 U.S.C. 7430(c)(4)(E). The Federal Circuit affirmed an award of $314,710.69, rejecting the government’s arguments: that BASR does not qualify for lcosts under section 7430(a) because a partnership is not a prevailing “party,” that BASR did not pay or incur costs because a partnership has no legal obligation, that the amount of individual tax liability was not “in issue” during the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) partnership-level court proceeding, and that the qualified offer rule did not apply. View "BASR Partnership v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law, Tax Law

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The Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) patent, entitled “Stable Protein Formulations,” describes and claims specific fluid formulations an immunosuppressive agent used in the treatment of immune system disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. The product has the common name “abatacept” and the brand name Orencia®. Momenta sought Inter Partes Review of the Patent under the America Invents Act, 35 U.S.C. 311. Momenta was attempting to develop a biosimilar counterpart of Orencia®. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board sustained patentability of the patent claims. Momenta filed an appeal under 35 U.S.C. 319. BMS moved to dismiss for lack of standing because Momenta’s proposed product had failed its Phase 1 clinical trials and had been withdrawn. Momenta responded that it had not abandoned its intent to produce a counterpart of the Orencia® product and filed various exhibits concerning its intentions, ultimately submitting a form that was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in December 2018, indicating termination of Momenta’s collaboration agreement with respect to the development of a proposed biosimilar to ORENCIA®. Momenta did not withdraw its appeal. The Federal Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of standing as moot. The cessation of potential infringement means that Momenta no longer has the potential for injury, thereby mooting the inquiry. View "Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co." on Justia Law

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Athena Diagnostics is the exclusive licensee of the 820 patent, covering methods for diagnosing neurological disorders by detecting antibodies to a protein called muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK), which is associated with Myasthenia gravis (MG), a neurological disorder where patients experience muscle weakness and symptoms including drooping eyelids, double vision, and slurred speech. Athena markets a test (FMUSK) that functions by evaluating those antibodies. After Mayo developed two competing tests, Athena accused Mayo of infringing its patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the asserted claims of the 820 patent are invalid under 35 U.S.C. 101, for claiming ineligible subject matter. The claims at issue are directed to a natural law and lack an inventive concept. View "Athena Diagnostics, Inc. v. Mayo Collaborative Services, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Dobyns, then an ATF agent engaged in undercover work, infiltrated the Hells Angels and assisted in the indictment of 36 people for racketeering and murder. The disclosure of his identity during the prosecutions led to threats against Dobyns and his family. ATF’s alleged failure to appropriately respond to the threats and to adequately conceal Dobyns’ identity during an emergency relocation, led Dobyns to seek compensation. In 2007, ATF agreed to pay Dobyns a lump-sum. ATF withdrew Dobyns’ and his family’s fictitious identities in 2008 despite a 2007 threat assessment. A 2008, arson attack substantially damaged Dobyns’ home, but his family escaped without injury. ATF pursued Dobyns as a suspect. In 2013, ATF’s Internal Affairs Division concluded that there was no valid reason for the withdrawal of the fictitious identifies; that risks to the family had been ignored; and that the response to the arson had been mismanaged. Dobyns sued in 2008, alleging breach of the agreement. While the suit was pending, Dobyns’ book was released; Dobyns made frequent media appearances. In 2013, the Claims Court held that there was no breach of any express provision of the agreement but that there was a breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing and that Dobyns was entitled to emotional distress damages of $173,000. Dobyns alleged misconduct by the Justice Department during the litigation; the court determined that none of the alleged misconduct warranted Rule 60 relief because, even if they occurred, there was no showing that these acts could have affected Dobyns’ case. The Federal Circuit reversed the judgment as to the breach of the implied duties and affirmed the Rule 60 decision. View "Dobyns v. United States" on Justia Law

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RCT owns the 551 patent, which discloses and claims enantiomeric compounds and pharmaceutical compositions useful in the treatment of epilepsy and other central nervous system disorders. The Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board, in an inter partes review, concluded that claims 1–13 of the patent are not unpatentable. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that an ordinary artisan would have recognized the methoxyamino group in compound 3l (disclosed in a prior reference) to be uncommon and to have potential synthetic and stability problems and that a person of skill in the art would then have been motivated to modify compound 3l by replacing the amine of its methoxyamino group with a methylene link to yield a more stable, synthetically accessible, pharmaceutically common and acceptable moiety. The Board’s findings are supported by substantial evidence. Even if a person of skill in the art would have been motivated to modify compound 3l, the evidence suggests that compounds without a methoxyamino or nitrogen-containing group at the αcarbon had reduced activity. View "Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Research Corporation Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law