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In 1998, Do a government employee since 1990, was hired by HUD’s Information Systems Audit Division. She became Division Director. In 2006, Asuncion, then working as a Justice Department auditor, applied for a GS-11 position in Do’s Division. On her resume and Questionnaire, Asuncion claimed she had a college degree in accounting. A pre-employment investigation revealed that Asuncion did not have that degree. Asuncion explained that she had completed the required coursework but needed to take one additional course to raise her GPA. Asuncion claimed good-faith mistake and promised to secure her degree. After conferring with her supervisor, Do approved Asuncion’s hiring. Asuncion was eventually promoted. In 2009, Do posted two GS-14 auditor positions. Human resources flagged Asuncion “as a qualified candidate.” Do selected Asuncion, knowing that Asuncion still did not have an accounting degree. Do later was advised that Asuncion could continue as an auditor but must obtain her degree. Asuncion resigned in 2016. HUD demoted Do to Nonsupervisory Senior Auditor and suspended her for 14 days. The Federal Circuit reversed. Do’s due process rights were violated; the Board relied on a new ground to sustain the discipline. Do's notice alleged a single charge of “negligence of duty” in hiring and promoting Asuncion. The Board’s decision concluded that Do negligently failed to investigate whether Asuncion met alternative requirements. That alternative theory appears nowhere in the notice or in the deciding official’s decision. View "Do v. Department of Housing and Urban Development" on Justia Law

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Guild makes mortgage loans and has used the mark “GUILD MORTGAGE COMPANY” since 1960. Guild was founded in California and has expanded to over 40 other states. It applied to register the mark “GUILD MORTGAGE COMPANY,” and design, in International Class 36 for “mortgage banking services, namely, origination, acquisition, servicing, securitization and brokerage of mortgage loans.” The application states that color is not claimed as a feature of the mark and that the “mark consists of the name Guild Mortgage Company with three lines shooting out above the letters I and L.” Registration was refused (15 U.S.C. 1052(d)) due to a likelihood of confusion between Guild’s mark and the mark “GUILD INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT” registered in International Class 36 for “investment advisory services,” which is owned by Guild Investment Management, Inc. a Los Angeles investment company. The Board affirmed. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board erred by failing to address Guild’s argument and evidence related to “DuPont factor 8,” which examines the “length of time during and conditions under which there has been concurrent use without evidence of actual confusion.” Guild argued that it and Guild Investment have coexisted in business for over 40 years without any evidence of actual confusion. View "In re: Guild Mortgage Co." on Justia Law

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UCB’s 650 patent, which covers certain chemical derivatives of 3,3- diphenylpropylamines, including a compound called fesoterodine. Fesoterodine is an antimuscarinic drug marketed as Toviaz® to treat urinary incontinence. In inter partes review, the Patent and Trademark Office Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that certain claims were not unpatentable as obvious, 35 U.S.C. 103. The Federal Circuit affirmed, first rejecting UCB’s argument that Amerigen lacked standing because the FDA will not approve Amerigen’s abbreviated new drug application until the expiration of the 650 patent in 2022, so that there was no possibility of infringement. The evidence supported the Board’s finding that the Amergen neither established a general motivation to make a 5-HMT prodrug nor proved that the specific claimed modifications would have been obvious. View "Amerigen Pharmaceuticals, Ltc. v. UCB Pharma GMBH" on Justia Law

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WesternGeco’s patents relate to technologies used to search for oil and gas beneath the ocean floor. The patents relate to controlling streamers and sensors in relation to each other by using winged positioning devices and generating four-dimensional maps with which it is possible to see changes in the seabed over time. WesternGeco manufactures the Q-Marine, and performs surveys for oil companies. ION manufactures the DigiFIN, and sells to its customers, who perform surveys for oil companies. A jury found infringement and no invalidity and awarded WesternGeco $93,400,000 in lost profits and $12,500,000 in reasonable royalties. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that WesternGeco was not the patents' owner and lacked standing and that the court applied an incorrect standard under 35 U.S.C. 271(f)(1). The court upheld denial of enhanced damages for willful infringement and reversed the award of lost profits resulting from conduct occurring abroad. The Supreme Court subsequently held “that WesternGeco’s damages award for lost profits was a permissible domestic application of [35 U.S.C.] 284,” but did not decide other challenges to the lost profits award. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision and the intervening invalidation of four asserted patent claims that could support the lost profits award, the Federal Circuit remanded to the district court. View "WesternGeco L.L.C. v. Ion Geophysical Corp." on Justia Law

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Realtime’s 812 patent discloses “[s]ystems and methods for providing lossless data compression and decompression . . . [that] exploit various characteristics of run-length encoding, parametric dictionary encoding, and bit packing.” ’ Run-length encoding is a form of lossless data compression where a “run” of characters is replaced with an identifier for each individual character and the number of times it is repeated. In inter partes review, the Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that all of the challenged claims would have been obvious over the prior art, 35 U.S.C. 103(a). The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board was not required to make any finding regarding a motivation to combine given its reliance on the prior art alone, which disclosed every element of claims 1–4, 8, and 28. In relying on the prior art alone, the Board did not violate section 312(a)(3) or other notice requirements. The Board did not expressly construe the phrase “maintaining a dictionary,” but found that the prior art satisfied this limitation because it disclosed all of the steps in dependent claim 4. View "Realtime Data, LLC v. Iancu" on Justia Law

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During World War II, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation was established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After the war, Hanford continued in use, operated by contractors. Each time the work was transferred to another contractor, the employees that performed the work would stay the same, typically with the same pay and benefits. The Hanford Multi-Employer Pension Plan (MEPP) was established in 1987 as a contract between “Employers,” defined as named contractors, and “Employees.” The government is not a party to the MEPP but may not be amended without government approval. In 1996, some employees accepted employment with a Hanford subcontractor, Lockheed, and were informed that, upon their retirement, they would not receive retirement benefits that were previously afforded under the MEPP. They were subsequently told that they would remain in the MEPP but that, instead of calculating their pension benefits based on their total years in service, their benefits would be calculated using the highest five-year salary, and that they could not challenge the change until they retired. This became a MEPP amendment. In 2016, former Lockheed employees sued the government, alleging that an implied contract was breached when they did not receive benefits based on their total years in service. The Federal Circuit held that the former employees did not prove that an implied-in-fact contract existed. The government funds Lockheed and others to manage Hanford, but there is no evidence that the government intended to be contractually obligated to their employees; there was no mutuality of intent. View "Turping v. United States" on Justia Law

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AC’s 680 patent relates generally to data access and management. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that certain claims were unpatentable. On reconsideration, it invalidated the remaining claims based on a ground of unpatentability raised by Amazon’s petition but not addressed in the final written decision. AC argued that the Board exceeded its authority and deprived it of fair process by belatedly considering this ground. The Federal Circuit upheld the Board’s decision. Precedent mandates that the Board consider all grounds of unpatentability raised in an instituted petition. The Board complied with due process and did not err in either its claim construction or its ultimate conclusions of unpatentability. As AC admits, after the Board decided to accept Amazon’s rehearing request and consider Ground 3, it permitted AC to take discovery and submit additional briefing and evidence on that ground. View "AC Technologies S.A. v. Amazon.com, Inc." on Justia Law

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For 33 years, Jenkins worked for the Army, finally as a Supervisory Army Community Services Division Chief. In 2010-2012, Jenkins continually failed performance reviews and once served a suspension for submitting an Information Paper to a higher command without routing and gaining required approval through his first-level supervisor. Jenkins was put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). After notifying Jenkins that he failed his PIP, his supervisor asked Jenkins whether he would move to a non-supervisory position at the same grade and pay level, Jenkins refused. Jenkins’s first-level supervisor proposed his removal for unacceptable performance. After receiving notice, but before he was removed, Jenkins sent his first-level supervisor an email, stating that “[e]ffective 31 March 2012 I will retire.” Jenkins submitted responses challenging his removal; on March 21, the Army issued a Final Removal Decision effective April 1, 2012. That same day, it issued a Cancellation of Removal, conditioned on Jenkins retiring effective March 31. Jenkins then submitted Standard Form-50, stating “voluntary retirement” effective 31 March 2012 as his reason for resignation. Jenkins later appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board alleging that his retirement was involuntary. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, reasoning that the Army had rescinded the removal and nothing indicated Jenkins sought to withdraw his retirement before the effective removal date; Jenkins failed to make a non-frivolous claim. View "Jenkins v. Merit Systems Protection Board" on Justia Law

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Following a positive drug test, DHS removed Hansen from his position as an Information Technology Specialist for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. After failing the drug test, Hansen had submitted a letter to the agency, claiming that he had unknowingly consumed pot brownies prepared by a friend-of-a-friend’s neighbor, a stranger to him, at a barbeque. The Merit Systems Protection Board affirmed. Hansen appealed, arguing that the Board improperly assigned him the burden of proving that he inadvertently ingested marijuana, that it erred in finding his position was subject to random drug testing, and that even if it was subject to such testing, he lacked required notice of that fact. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that intent is not an element of the charged conduct and that the Board properly required Hansen to introduce rebuttal evidence to counter the government’s showing of nexus and choice of penalty. Substantial evidence supports the Board’s finding that Hansen’s position was designated for random drug testing. View "Hansen v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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Marco Guldenaar filed the provisional application from which the 196 patent application claims priority in 2010. The 196 patent application, entitled “Casino Game and a Set of Six-Face Cubic Colored Dice,” relates to “dice games intended to be played in gambling casinos, in which a participant attempts to achieve a particular winning combination of subsets of the dice.” The Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed the rejection of claims 1–3, 5, 7–14, 16– 18, and 23–30 the application under 35 U.S.C. 101 for claiming patent-ineligible subject matter. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the claims are directed to the abstract idea of rules for playing a dice game and the only arguably inventive concept relates to the dice markings, which constitute printed matter. View "In re: Marco Guldenaar Holding B.V." on Justia Law