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

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that the interim relief statute does not preclude a second removal action while a first removal action is still pending when the second action cures a procedural deficiency in the first action.The Department of the Treasury initiated a removal action against Petitioner charging him with misuse of government property. Treasury sustained the charge and removed Petitioner. A Board administrative judge (AJ) reversed based on a due process defect in the action. Treasury and Petitioner both petitioned for review. While that petition was pending, Treasury initiated a second removal action based on the same charge and specifications that cured the procedural deficiency in the first removal action. Treasury then removed Petitioner. An AJ upheld the second removal action, and that decision became the Board's decision. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that Treasury was not precluded from initiating the second action while the first action was still pending. View "Coy v. Dep't of Treasury" on Justia Law

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The Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denying Plaintiff's patent applications, which failed to list any human as an inventor, holding that the Patent Act requires an "inventor" to be a natural person.Plaintiff, who developed and ran artificial intelligence systems that generate patentable inventions, sought patent protection for two putative inventions by filing two patent applications with the PTO, listing DABUS, "a collection of source code or programming and a software program," as the sole inventor. The PTO denied the petitions on the ground that "a machine does not qualify as an inventor." The district court affirmed, concluding that an "inventor" under the Patent Act must be an "individual" and that an "individual" is a natural person. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding that the plain meaning of "inventor" in the Patent Act is limited to natural persons. View "Thaler v. Vidal" on Justia Law

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In this appeal from an antidumping investigation of biodiesel from Argentina the Federal Circuit affirmed the judgment of the United States Court of International Trade, holding that two challenged calculations Commerce used to determine antidumping duties were supported by substantial evidence.The two calculations at issue were export price and constructed value of the subject biodiesel, a renewable fuels subject to traceable tax credits. In calculating export price, Commerce subtracted the value of the traceable credits, calling them price adjustments under 19 C.F.R. 351.401(c). Calculating constructed normal value of the biodiesel, Commerce used an international market price for soybeans, the price of which is subsidized in Argentina. Appellant argued that correcting for the soybean subsidy in the export price constituted an improper double remedy. The Federal Circuit affirmed, holding (1) substantial evidence supported the value Commerce used for the traceable "price adjustment" credits; and (2) substantial evidence supported the constructed value calculation, and the calculation did not result in a double remedy. View "Vicentin S.A.I.C. v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the Court of International Trade determining that the United States Customs and Border Protection timely liquidated or reliquidated ten out of eleven entries of wooden bedroom furniture from China and that Customs' mislabeling of the notice of reliquidation for the remaining entry was harmless, holding that any error was harmless.Appellants, importers of wooden bedroom furniture from China, challenged the procedure by which Customs liquidated and/or reliquidated certain of its entires of wooden bedroom furniture. The Court of International Trade granted summary judgment in favor of the government. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the Court of International Trade (1) did not err in determining that there was no genuine dispute of material fact as to the date of notice and denying certain discovery; and (2) properly determined that Customs' mislabeling of a notice as "liquidation" as opposed to "reliquidation" was harmless error. View "Aspects Furniture International, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Realtime filed patent infringement actions against Netflix in the District of Delaware. While that action was ongoing, Netflix filed petitions for inter partes review (IPR) and moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing patent ineligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101. Following the institution of the IPR proceedings and a recommendation from the Delaware magistrate finding certain claims ineligible, Realtime voluntarily dismissed the Delaware action—before the district court ruled on the magistrate’s findings. The next day, Realtime reasserted the same patents against Netflix in the Central District of California—despite having previously informed the Delaware court that transferring the Delaware action to the Northern District of California would be an unfair burden on Realtime. Netflix then moved for attorneys’ fees and to transfer the actions back to Delaware. Before a decision on either motion, Realtime again voluntarily dismissed its case.Netflix renewed its motion for attorneys’ fees for the California actions, the Delaware action, and IPR proceedings. The district court awarded fees for both California actions under 35 U.S.C. 285, and, alternatively, the court’s inherent equitable powers. The court declined to award fees for the Delaware action or IPR proceedings The Federal Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding fees under its inherent equitable powers or in denying fees for the related proceedings The court did not address whether the award satisfies section 285's requirements. View "Realtime Adaptive Streaming LLC v. Netflix, Inc." on Justia Law

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The patents share the same specification and are entitled “Non-Invasive Diagnosis of Graft Rejection in Organ Transplant Patients.” They discuss diagnosing or predicting organ transplant status by using methods to detect a donor’s cell-free DNA (cfDNA). When an organ transplant is rejected, the recipient’s body, through its natural immune response, destroys the donor cells, releasing cfDNA from the donated organ’s dying cells into the blood. These increased levels of donor cfDNA—which occur naturally as the organ’s condition deteriorates—can be detected and then used to diagnose the likelihood of an organ transplant rejection.In an infringement action, the district court found the patents ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The court applied the Supreme Court’s two-part “Alice” test to determine whether the claims were patent-eligible applications of laws of nature and natural phenomena or claims that impermissibly tie up such laws and phenomena. The claims boil down to collecting a bodily sample, analyzing the cfDNA using conventional techniques, including PCR, identifying naturally occurring DNA from the donor organ, and then using the natural correlation between heightened cfDNA levels and transplant health to identify a potential rejection, none of which was inventive. This is not a case involving a method of preparation or a new measurement technique. View "CareDx, Inc. v. Natera, Inc" on Justia Law

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In 2008, Zafer entered a $40 million contract to build water systems on the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Zafer completed the project and submitted a request for equitable adjustment in September 2013, which it timely amended in December 2014. Zafer alleged that the government increased the cost of the project by causing delays and modifying the contract. Zafer’s detailed request sought $6.7 million and provided a breakdown of the reasons for the claimed amounts. Zafer certified its request under 41 U.S.C. 7103(b)(1), beyond what is required by 48 C.F.R. 252.243-7002(b) to certify mere requests for equitable adjustment. The parties negotiated for four-and-a-half years but did not fully resolve Zafer’s request.In February 2018, Zafer asked to convert its request for equitable adjustment into a claim. The contracting officer determined that most of the claim was time-barred because the government’s alleged conduct had transpired more than six years before Zafer had converted its request into a claim. The Claims Court found that Zafer’s claim had “accrued no later than August 1, 2011,” meaning Zafer had to have submitted a claim by August 1, 2017, for the claim to be timely, reasoning that Zafer’s request for equitable adjustment “lacks a request for a final decision” and “asks for negotiations.” The Federal Circuit reversed. Zafer’s December 2014 request for equitable adjustment implicitly requests a final decision and therefore is a claim. View "Zafer Construction Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Morris served in the Army, 1965-1968. In 1970, he unsuccessfully sought disability benefits (38 U.S.C. 1110), alleging a disability based on a nervous condition connected to his service. The VA instead granted his claim for a pension based on a non-service-connected condition. In 2005, Morris sought compensation based on service-connected PTSD; he was eventually assigned a 100% disability rating.Morris has for many years been seeking an earlier effective date for service-connected disability compensation. The VA regional office and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals found no clear and unmistakable error. The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims rejected a claim that a September 1970 notice from the VA—giving notice of the August 1970 rating decision—was constitutionally inadequate under the Due Process Clause; Morris had not presented this argument to the Board but contended that the Veterans Court was obligated to consider this constitutional question in the first instance under 38 U.S.C. 7261(a)(1). The Veterans Court exercised its discretion, under issue-exhaustion precedents, to decline to entertain the argument presented for the first time on appeal. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the appeal. The Veterans Court had the discretion to apply an issue-exhaustion analysis and correctly applied that analysis. View "Morris v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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Lanclos was born in 1982 at the Keesler Air Force Base Medical Center. During childbirth, she was seriously injured and as a result, suffers from Athetoid cerebral palsy. The settlement agreement for Lanclos’s medical malpractice suit required the government to make lump sum payments to Lanclos’s parents and their attorney; Lanclos would receive a single lump sum payment followed by specific monthly payments for the longer of 30 years or the remainder of her life. The government would purchase an annuity policy to provide the monthly payments. The government selected Executive Insurance to provide the monthly annuity payments. Executive encountered financial difficulties and, in 2014, reduced the amount of the monthly payments by 42%. Lanclos estimates that the reduction will result in a shortfall of $731,288.81 from the amount described in the settlement agreement.The Court of Federal Claims reasoned that the “guarantee” language in the Lanclos agreement applies to the scheduled monthly structure of the payments but not the actual payment of the listed amounts and that the government was not liable for the shortfall. The Federal Circuit reversed. Under the ordinary meaning of the term “guarantee” and consistent with the agreement as a whole, the government agreed to assure fulfillment of the listed monthly payments; there is no reasonable basis to conclude that the parties sought to define “guarantee” or to give the term an alternative meaning. View "Lanclos v. United States" on Justia Law

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Philips and Thales design and manufacture telecommunications equipment and related technologies, including those related to various generations of wireless networks. Philips and Thales have been engaged in negotiations over what Philips asserts are standard essential patents (SEPs) that Thales has implemented according to European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) specifications. After negotiations did not yield an agreed-upon fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) license for the SEPs, Philips filed an infringement and declaratory action against Thales in the District of Delaware and an International Trade Commission (ITC) action seeking an exclusion order. Thales filed a breach of contract counterclaim and declaratory counterclaim for a FRAND rate determination and moved for a preliminary injunction barring Philips from pursuing its ITC action.The Federal Circuit affirmed the denial of Thales’ motion. The district court did not clearly err in determining that Thales’ evidence of harm was conclusory and that it failed to meet its burden of establishing likely irreparable harm. Thales did not present any evidence that it lost customers, had customers delay purchases, or struggled to acquire new business because of the ongoing ITC proceedings. View "Koninklijke Philips N.V. v. Thales DIS AIS Deutschland GMBH" on Justia Law