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

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In 1942-1943, the government contracted with the Oil Companies to rapidly expand aviation gas (avgas) production facilities and sell vast quantities of avgas to the government with an artificially low profit margin. The government assumed certain risks, agreeing to reimburse “any new or additional taxes, fees, or charges” which the Companies “may be required by any municipal, state, or federal law ... to collect or pay by reason of the production, manufacture, sale or delivery of the [avgas].” The increased production led to increased amounts of acid waste that overwhelmed existing reprocessing facilities. The Companies contracted to dispose of the acid waste at the McColl site in Fullerton, California.In 1991, the United States and California sued under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9601, seeking to require the Companies to pay cleanup costs. The Ninth Circuit held that the government was 100% liable for the cost of cleaning up the benzol waste (about 5.5% of the waste) at the McColl site. The Companies have borne nearly all of the clean-up costs incurred since 1994; they submitted a contract termination claim, seeking reimbursement. The Claims Court ultimately found the government liable for all cleanup costs at the McColl site and awarded the Companies $99,509,847.32 for costs incurred through November 2015. The government paid. Remediation at McColl remains ongoing. The Companies sought damages incurred after November 2015. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the government is liable for those costs plus interest, rejecting arguments that res judicata bars the claims and that the Claims Court did not have jurisdiction under the Contract Settlement Act of 1944. View "Shell Oil Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Limited is the assignee of the 180 patent, which is directed generally to a display unit configured to receive video signals from an external video source. Limited sued LG for patent infringement. After the district court granted Limited leave to join Hitachi as plaintiffs to address a standing challenge brought by LG, the case proceeded to trial. The jury found that the accused LG televisions infringed two claims of the patent, that the claims were not invalid, and that LG’s infringement was willful, and awarded Plaintiffs $45 million in damages.In September 2019, the district court denied LG’s post-trial motions regarding infringement, invalidity, and willfulness but ordered further briefing on damages. On April 22, 2020, the district court granted LG’s motion for a new trial on damages. On May 8, 2020, LG filed a notice of interlocutory appeal, seeking to challenge the denials of LG’s post-trial motions regarding infringement, invalidity, and willfulness, all of which were decided in the September Order. LG also challenged the pretrial joinder decision, arguing that, without such joinder, Limited lacked statutory authority to bring suit. The Federal Circuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. LG’s notice of appeal was not filed within 30 days of the date at which the liability issues became final except for an accounting. View "Mondis Technology Ltd. v. LG Electronics Inc." on Justia Law

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LBI is the corporate parent of retailers in the apparel and home product field, including Victoria’s Secret entities. LBI’s subsidiaries each maintain their own corporate, partnership, or limited liability company status, identity, and structure. Each Defendant is incorporated in Delaware. The LBI Non-Store Defendants do not have any employees, stores, or other physical presence in the Eastern District of Texas. The Store Defendants each operate at least one retail location in the District. Andra sued Defendants for infringement of the 498 patent, which claims inventions directed to displaying articles on a webpage, including applying distinctive characteristics to thumbnails and displaying those thumbnails in a “master display field.” Andra’s infringement claims are directed to the victoriassecret.com website, related sites, and smartphone applications that contain similar functionality.Defendants moved to dismiss the suit for improper venue under 28 U.S.C. 1406(a), or in the alternative, to transfer the lawsuit to the Southern District of Ohio, arguing that venue was improper because Stores did not commit acts of infringement in the District and the Non-Store Defendants did not have regular and established places of business in the District. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the Non-Store Defendants for improper venue. Testimony by one Stores employee supported a finding of the alleged infringing acts in the District. View "Andra Group, LP v. Victoria's Secret Stores, LLC" on Justia Law

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Dr. Islam, a tenured electrical and computer engineering professor at University of Michigan, received an additional appointment at UM’s medical school. Upon joining the faculty, he executed an employment agreement and agreed to abide by UM’s bylaws, which provide that patents issued or acquired as a result of or in connection with administration, research, or other educational activities supported directly or indirectly by funds administered by the University and all revenues derived therefrom are the property of the University. Property rights in computer software resulting from activities that received no support are the property creator. In cases involving both University-supported activity and independent activity, property rights in resulting work products are owned as agreed upon before any exploitation thereof.In 2012, Islam took an unpaid leave-of-absence from UM to start a new Biomedical Laser Company. During his leave, Islam filed provisional patent applications. Upon returning to UM, he filed non-provisional applications claiming priority to those provisional applications. Islam later assigned the patent rights to Omni. Those patents are ancestors of the patents-in-suit, which are not directly related to Islam’s teaching. UM refused to confirm Islam’s ownership of his inventions, noting the expenditure of medical school funds to support the cost of Islam’s space, time required to process Islam’s appointment to the medical school, and “medical school faculty partners who have helped springboard ideas.”In 2018, Omni sued Apple, asserting infringement. The district court denied Apple’s motion to dismiss for lack of standing. The Federal Circuit affirmed. UM’s bylaws did not effectuate a present automatic assignment of Islam’s patent rights. View "Omni Medsci, Inc. v. Apple Inc." on Justia Law

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The 2017 Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act (AMA) reforms the VA's administrative appeals system, 131 Stat. 1105, replacing the existing system, which had shepherded all denials of veteran disability claims through a one-size-fits-all appeals process. Under the AMA, claimants may choose between three procedural options: filing a supplemental claim based on additional evidence, requesting higher-level review within the VA based on the same evidentiary record, and filing a notice of disagreement to directly appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals. The VA promulgated regulations to implement the AMA. Veterans’ service organizations, a law firm, and an individual (Petitioners) filed separate petitions raising 13 rulemaking challenges to these regulations under 38 U.S.C. 502.1The Federal Circuit concluded that two veterans’ service organizations had associational standing based on claimed injuries to their members to collectively bring three of their challenges. No Petitioner demonstrated standing to raise any of the remaining challenges. The regulations the organizations have standing to challenge are invalid for contravening the unambiguous meaning of their governing statutory provisions: 38 C.F.R. 14.636(c)(1)(i), limiting when a veteran’s representative may charge fees for work on supplemental claims; 38 C.F.R. 3.2500(b) barring the filing of a supplemental claim when adjudication of that claim is pending before a federal court; and 38 C.F.R. 3.155 excluding supplemental claims from the intent-to-file framework. View "Military-Veterans Advocacy v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law

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Ortiz served during the Vietnam era, a “period of war,” under 38 U.S.C. 1110, which provides for compensation for service-connected disabilities. The VA denied Ortiz’s 1997 claim for disability benefits based on PTSD, finding Ortiz did not provide corroborating evidence, as required by the PTSD regulation. The VA reopened and granted the claim in 2012, pursuant to the 2010 addition of 38 C.F.R. 3.304(f)(3), an exception to the corroborating evidence requirement. The VA rated Ortiz 100 percent disabled and made the benefits effective as of May 2012, when it received the request to reopen. Ortiz contended that the effective date should have been one year earlier; 38 C.F.R. 3.114(a), provides that when compensation “is awarded or increased pursuant to a liberalizing law, or a liberalizing VA issue approved by the Secretary” and the “claim [for compensation] is reviewed at the request of the claimant more than 1 year after the effective date of the law or VA issue,” the effective date is “1 year prior to the date of receipt of such request.”The Board of Veterans’ Appeals and the Veterans Court rejected his request for an earlier effective date. The Federal Circuit reversed. The regulatory change that enabled Ortiz to obtain the benefits was a “liberalizing” one, entitling Ortiz to the earlier effective date, and a larger award. View "Ortiz v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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Qualcomm’s patent relates to techniques for generating a power tracking supply voltage for a circuit that processes multiple radio frequency signals simultaneously, using one power amplifier and one power tracking supply generator. Intel petitioned for six inter partes reviews, proposing “a plurality of carrier aggregated transmit signals” means “signals for transmission on multiple carriers at the same time to increase the bandwidth for a user.” Qualcomm proposed the following construction: “signals from a single terminal utilizing multiple component carriers which provide extended transmission bandwidth for a user transmission from the single terminal.” The signals were required to increase user bandwidth. In a parallel proceeding, the International Trade Commission’s construction of the term also included the increased bandwidth requirement.The Patent Board issued six final written decisions concluding that all challenged claims were unpatentable as obvious, construing the term “a plurality of carrier aggregated transmit signals” in each asserted claim to mean “signals for transmission on multiple carriers,” omitting any requirement that the signals increase or extend bandwidth. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board violated Qualcomm’s procedural rights. Qualcomm was not afforded notice of, or an adequate opportunity to respond to, the Board’s construction of “a plurality of carrier aggregated transmit signals.” View "Qualcomm Inc. v. Intel Corp." on Justia Law

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Daikin sought inter partes review of claims 1–7 of the 609 patent and of claims 3 and 4 of the 431 patent. The 609 patent relates to a unique polymer for insulating communication cables formed by pulling wires through melted polymer to coat and insulate the wires, a process called “extrusion.” Specifically, Chemours’s patents relate to a polymer with unique properties such that it can be formed at high extrusion speeds while still producing a high-quality coating on the communication cables. The claims provide that the polymer has a specific melt flow rate range, an indicator of how fast the melted polymer can flow under pressure, i.e., during extrusion. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found all challenged claims of both patents to be unpatentable as obvious in view of the “Kaulbach” patent.The Federal Circuit reversed. The Board’s decision on obviousness is not supported by substantial evidence and the Board erred in its analysis of objective indicia of nonobviousness. The Board apparently ignored the express disclosure in Kaulbach that teaches away from the claimed invention and relied on teachings from other references that were not concerned with the particular problems Kaulbach sought to solve. View "Chemours Co. FC, LLC v. Daikin Industries, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Borusan claimed that it was entitled to a post-sale price adjustment based on the total value of penalties it paid for late delivery of products (large diameter welded pipe) to a customer. The Trade Court agreed and remanded to the U.S. Department of Commerce with instructions to grant the claimed post-sale price adjustment and recalculate the resulting antidumping duty margins. On remand, “Consistent with the [CIT’s] remand, and under protest,” Commerce granted Borusan a post-sale price adjustment based on Borusan’s final allocated share of the penalty, which produced a de minimis antidumping duty rate.The Federal Circuit reversed, concluding that the Department of Commerce’s original post-sale price adjustment was supported by substantial evidence and in accordance with law. Commerce determined, in the course of applying the proper factors provided in its regulations, that a potential existed for manipulating the postsale price adjustment because the claimed adjustment was not tethered to what was established and known to the client at the time of sale. Consistent with its legitimate goal of avoiding such manipulation, Commerce correctly set the post-sale price adjustment in a reasonable manner, based on evidence that existed at the time of sale, that addressed its manipulation concerns. View "Borusan Mannesmann Boru Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.S. v. American Cast Iron Pipe Cp." on Justia Law

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ICE issued a solicitation for the provision of detention, food, and transportation at its Florence Detention Center. Asset was the incumbent contractor. ICE responded "yes" to, “Arizona charges 4.5% ‘business tax’; will the Federal Government issue a tax exemption certificate to the successful offeror?” Asset’s initial proposal indicated that “[s]ales taxes were not charged” based on that answer. ICE selected Akima's proposal. Asset filed a bid protest. ICE took voluntary corrective action and issued Amendment 17; Amendment 19 subsequently clarified that ICE “CANNOT delegate its tax-exempt status” and instructed that offerors review their proposals and provide their best and final prices. Asset responded that it had reviewed Amendment 19 and that its proposal did not require revision but did not remove the tax-exempt language from its proposal. ICE again clarified the tax-exempt status question via Amendment 20. Asset again responded that it did not need to amend its proposal but the tax-exempt certificate language remained. ICE ultimately selected Akima, concluding that Asset was ineligible for the award because the tax-exempt certificate language rendered its proposal a contingent price. Asset filed another bid protest, disputing ICE’s best-value analysis. The GAO agreed that ICE improperly determined that Asset’s bid contained contingency pricing but concluded that Asset “was not prejudiced” because ICE’s best-value analysis was “reasonable,”The Claims Court concluded that Asset lacked standing to bring the bid protest. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Asset’s proposal was non-responsive to the requirements of the Solicitation, as explicitly amended, making it ineligible for the award. View "Asset Protection and Security Services, L.P. v. United States" on Justia Law