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

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In 2010 San Diego Sherriff’s Deputy Collier died following an accident while on duty. Collier owned a house together with his fiance, Li, who was also designated as Collier’s beneficiary for his retirement benefits and as a dependent for purposes of workers’ compensation. The two were to have been married three months after the date of Collier’s death; Collier had repeatedly stated, including on a video, that he had made arrangements for Li to be taken care of in the event of his death. Stamp, Collier’s former girlfriend, was named as the beneficiary of his life insurance. Stamp and Li agreed to split the proceeds; Li received $560,920 and Stamp received $25,000. The Bureau of Justice Assistance denied Li’s claim for benefits under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Act, 34 U.S.C. 10281, because Li was not the designated beneficiary on Collier’s life insurance policy. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Rejecting Li’s argument that the Bureau should have considered the “totality of the circumstances,” the court stated that Li was not the designated life insurance beneficiary. California law requires strict compliance with the requirement of a policy to change the beneficiary; Collier’s policy required a written designation. There was no written designation and none of the exceptions apply. View "Li v. Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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ARM’s 320 patent describes an adaptor for use with Keurig® single-brew coffee machines or similar brewers, configured to effect operative compatibility between a single-serve beverage brewer [for use with cup-shaped cartridges] and beverage pods. ARM filed an International Trade Court (ITC) complaint against Eko and others. In proceedings involving others, the ITC found that several claims of the 320 patent were invalid for lack of written description. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The ITC made no invalidity determination concerning claims 8 and 19. Eko defaulted in the ITC with respect to ARM’s allegations that it infringed claims 8 and 19. The ITC issued a limited exclusion order and cease and desist order. Eko filed suit in the district court, seeking a declaratory judgment of noninfringement as to claims 8 and 19 and that the claims were invalid as obvious. Eko also asserted infringement of Eko’s 855 patent, which describes a reusable filter cartridge device for single-serve beverage brewing machines. The district court issued a Markman ruling construing various claim terms and granted Eko declaratory judgment of noninfringement. A jury found claims 8 and 19 of the 320 patent invalid as obvious. The court awarded Eko attorney’s fees associated with those judgments. The Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of invalidity as to the 320 patent, the fee award, and the judgment of infringement as to the 855 patent. View "Eko Brands, LLC v. Adrian Rivera Maynez Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 1993, the Department of Commerce determined that imports of certain lock washers from China were being sold at less than fair value and issued an antidumping duty order covering washers classifiable under subheading the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 7318.21.0000. In 2013, US&F, a U.S. importer of lock washers that meet the specifications of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, requested an official scope ruling, alleging that its washers were not covered by the Order. US&F explained that Customs was allowing it to continue making entry under HSTUS 7318.21.0090 in anticipation of the scope determination. Without initiating a scope inquiry, Commerce ruled that US&F’s washers are within the Order's scope and instructed Customs to suspend liquidation of “all unliquidated entries of merchandise made on or after the first day merchandise subject to the Order was suspended for antidumping purposes and collect cash deposits on all such entries.” Liquidation was suspended to October 1993, when the Order was issued and the first day Customs originally suspended liquidation of the subject merchandise. The Trade Court affirmed Commerce’s scope ruling but reversed Commerce’s retroactivity determination. On remand, Commerce issued new instructions to suspend liquidation on or after July 2013, when Commerce issued the final scope ruling regarding US&F’s washers. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Substantial evidence supports Commerce’s scope ruling but Commerce exceeded its regulatory authority by ordering the retroactive suspension of liquidation back to 1993 View "United Steel & Fasteners, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Genentech’s patent is directed to methods of purifying antibodies and other proteins containing a CH2/CH3 region from impurities by protein A affinity chromatography. Protein A affinity chromatography is a standard purification technique employed in the processing of therapeutic proteins, especially antibodies, which involves “using protein A . . . immobilized on a solid phase.” The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted inter partes review (IPR) and determined that all the challenged claims were unpatentable as anticipated or obvious in light of prior art references. The Federal Circuit affirmed, finding substantial evidence in support of the findings. The court also rejected Genentech’s argument that retroactive application of IPR to a patent issued prior to the passage of the America Invents Act violates the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause; pre-AIA patents were issued subject to both district court and Patent Office validity proceedings. Though IPR differs from district court and pre-AIA Patent Office reexamination proceedings, those differences are not sufficiently substantive or significant such that a “constitutional issue” is created when IPR is applied to pre-AIA patents. View "Genentech, Inc. v. Hospira, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Department of Commerce investigated (19 U.S.C. 1673−1673h) dumping of multilayered wood flooring from China and individually investigated the dumping margins of the three largest exporters. Commerce identified “separate-rate firms,” exporters and producers whose dumping margins were not individually investigated but that Commerce found to be independent of the Chinese government and concluded those firms should be assigned an antidumping-duty rate separate from the “China-wide rate” assigned to firms lacking such independence. Some separate-rate firms did not seek individual review, while voluntary-review firms requested review but were denied. Commerce issued an antidumping duty order but did not terminate the investigation, finding a non-de minimis positive dumping margin for the companies that were part of the China-wide entity. All three individually-investigated firms had zero dumping margins; Commerce freed those firms from further obligations. Commerce applied the zero rate to the separate-rate firms but did not free those firms from obligations accompanying the order. Although such firms’ merchandise initially would not be subject to cash deposits upon entry, the merchandise would remain subject to suspension of liquidation of entries, with the ultimate duty to be determined later; the firms would have to participate and the duty might increase, thereafter requiring cash deposits. The Trade Court and Federal Circuit affirmed the inclusion of the “no request” separate-rate firms in the order but held that Commerce had not justified the inclusion of the voluntary-review firms. Nothing in the statute unambiguously provides that all separate-rate firms, including those not individually investigated, must be excluded from all obligations under an antidumping duty order when they are assigned a zero rate based on zero or de minimis dumping margins of individually investigated firms. View "Changzhou Hawd Flooring Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Audio’s patent describes a system for organizing audio files, by subject matter, into “program segments.” ’The system arranges the segments through a “session schedule” and allows a user to navigate through the schedule in various ways. Audio sued CBS, alleging infringement. Later that year, a third party sought inter partes review (IPR) of the patent under 35 U.S.C. 311–319. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted review but the district court case proceeded to trial, with the issues limited to infringement and invalidity of claims 31–34. A jury found that CBS had infringed claims 31–34 and failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that those claims were invalid. The jury awarded Audio $1,300,000. The Board issued a final written decision in the IPR, concluding that claims 31–35 are unpatentable. The district court stayed entry of its judgment until completion of direct review of the Board’s decision. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s decision. The district court then entered a judgment in favor of CBS. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Audio’s argument that the courts lacked jurisdiction. To the extent that Audio challenged the district court’s determination of the consequences of the affirmed final written decision for the proper disposition of this case, Audio conceded that governing precedent required judgment for CBS. View "Personal Audio, LLC v. CBS Corp." on Justia Law

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Molon sued Merkle-Korff, for infringement of the 785 patent. Merkle-Korff filed counterclaims relating to Molon’s 915 and 726 patents. Molon unilaterally executed the 2006 Covenant, agreeing not to sue Merkle-Korff for infringement of the 915 and 726 patents. After the dismissal of the counterclaims, the parties entered into the 2007 Settlement. Merkle-Korff agreed to pay a lump sum for an exclusive license to multiple Molon patents including the 785, 915, and 726 patents, within the Kinetek Exclusive Market. The Settlement granted Merkle-Korff “the right, but not the duty, to pursue an infringement claim” and contains a statement that all prior covenants “concerning the subject matter hereof” are “merged” and “of no further force or effect.” Merkle-Korff later became Nidec. Molon sued, alleging that Nidec is infringing the 915 patent outside the licensed Market. Nidec argued that Molon is barred from enforcing the patent under the 2006 Covenant. Molon responded that the Covenant was extinguished by the 2007 Settlement. The court granted Nidec partial summary judgment after comparing the subject matters of the agreements. The Federal Circuit affirmed; the agreements concern different subject matter and do not merge. The 2006 Covenant gives Nidec a right to avoid infringement suits on two patents. The 2007 Settlement is in some ways broader, as an exclusive license, covering multiple patents and applications and providing Nidec with some enforcement rights, and in other ways narrower, being limited to a defined market. The 2006 Covenant remains in effect because it does not concern the same subject matter as the 2007 Settlement. View "Molon Motor & Coil Corp. v. Nidec Motor Corp." on Justia Law

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Farmos developed and patented Dexmedetomidine, a compound that is effective as a sedative, in the 1980s, and conducted human studies using intravenous administration of 20 µg/mL dexmedetomidine hydrochloride. Farmos abandoned its testing based on adverse effects. In 1994, Farmos’s successor granted Abbott an exclusive license to make, use, and sell dexmedetomidine in the U.S. In 1999, Abbott received FDA approval for “Precedex Concentrate,” a 100 µg/mL concentration too strong to be directly administered to patients; the label provides dilution instructions. In 2002, the European Medicines Evaluation Agency authorized the use of Dexdomitor, a ready-to-use 500 µg/mL formulation of dexmedetomidine hydrochloride. Hospira’s 106 patent, entitled “Dexmedetomidine Premix Formulation,” is directed to a liquid for parenteral administration, “wherein the composition is disposed within a sealed container as a premixture.” Fresenius sought FDA approval for a generic ready-to-use dexmedetomidine product. Hospira sued for infringement. Fresenius stipulated to infringement of the 106 patent. The Federal Circuit upheld a finding that a claim in that patent is invalid as obvious over prior art. The patent states that the invention was based on “the discovery that dexmedetomidine prepared in a premixed formulation . . . remains stable and active after prolonged storage.” It does not recite any manufacturing limitations related to stability or an added component that enhances stability; it recites a composition, with a “wherein” clause that describes the stability of that recited composition, a result that was inherent in prior art. View "Hospira, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC" on Justia Law

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Amgen holds an approved New Drug Application for Sensipar®, a formulation of cinacalcet hydrochloride used to treat secondary hyperparathyroidism in adult patients with chronic kidney disease who are on dialysis and to treat hypercalcemia in patients with parathyroid cancer and primary and secondary hyperparathyroidism. Amneal, Piramal, and Zydus each filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) seeking to enter the market with a generic version of Sensipar®. Amgen sued each ANDA filer, alleging that the proposed ANDA products would infringe its 405 patent, which is directed to a rapid dissolution formulation of cinacalcet. The district court entered a judgment of non-infringement. The Federal Circuit vacated in part, finding that the district court construed the claims incorrectly and erred in its analysis of infringement by Amneal. The court affirmed with respect to Piramal and Zydus, finding that the district court properly applied prosecution history estoppel to Amgen’s arguments regarding Piramal and otherwise did not err in its factual findings for Zydus. View "Amgen Inc. v. Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC" on Justia Law

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Shealey served on active duty in Vietnam. He sought service connection for a cervical spine disability and major depressive disorder. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals held that Shealey was dishonorably discharged. Before Shealy filed his third motion for reconsideration, the Army Board for Correction of Military Records upgraded his discharge to “under honorable conditions.” The Board denied reconsideration. Shealey sought assistance from Veterans Legal Advocacy Group (VetLAG), a nonprofit law firm; VetLAG would not charge a fee and if the Veterans Court granted attorney’s fees, VetLAG could keep the full amount. Shealey agreed that VetLAG could apply for attorney’s fees and litigation expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d) (EAJA), and he would provide assistance. VetLAG represented Shealey before the Veterans Court for three months until a pre-briefing conference, where the government stated its intent to move for dismissal. The attorneys advised Shealey to file a new claim to reopen his case. Shealey disagreed, discharged them, and obtained new counsel. The court vacated the Board’s decision. The government did not dispute that Shealey was the “prevailing party” and did not oppose VetLAG's EAJA motion seeking $4,061.60. Shealey opposed the application. The court determined that VetLAG lacked standing. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Under EAJA’s plain text, the attorneys lack any substantive rights sufficient to confer standing. Affording standing to the attorneys over Shealey’s objections would contravene the policies on which the third-party standing doctrine is based. The fee agreement did not constitute an assignment. View "Shealey v. Wilkie" on Justia Law