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

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Euzebio served in the U.S. Navy, 1966-1969, including two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he was exposed to Agent Orange. In 2009, Euzebio began experiencing problems swallowing. In 2011, medical examinations and testing by private physicians indicated that he had benign thyroid nodules. The Veterans Court affirmed the Board of Veterans’ Appeals’ denial of Euzebio’s entitlement to service connection for a thyroid condition due to exposure to Agent Orange. The Board noted that the Agent Orange Act requires that when the Secretary determines that a presumption of service connection based on herbicide exposure is not warranted for certain conditions, he must consider reports of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), 38 U.S.C. 1116; Euzebio’s thyroid disorder was not among the conditions listed by the Secretary for presumptive service-connection.The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board is required to consider relevant documents within its constructive possession; all relevant and reasonably connected VA-generated documents are part of the record, constructively known by the VA adjudicator. The Veterans Court applied an erroneous legal standard when it concluded the Board did not have constructive possession of the NAS Update 2014. While the VA has not published that Update in the Federal Register, it appears on its website. Update 2014 includes statements that, “thyroid conditions overall showed an indication of increased risk with herbicide exposure” and that “consistent observations of exposures to herbicide agents” indicated that they were “related to perturbations of thyroid function.” View "Euzebio v. McDonough" on Justia Law

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Rain sued Samsung for infringement of claims of the 349 patent, which is directed to delivering software application packages to a client terminal in a network based on user demands. The claimed invention purports to deliver these packages more efficiently by using an operating system in a client terminal rather than a web browser. The district court found the patent not infringed and not indefinite.The Federal Circuit reversed as to indefiniteness, 35 U.S.C. 112. The term “user identification module” fails to provide any structure for performing the claimed functions, has no commonly understood meaning, and is not generally viewed by one skilled in the art to connote a particular structure. The term is a means-plus-function term subject to section 112; the function of “user identification module” is “to control access to one or more software application packages to which the user has a subscription,” but nothing in the claim language or the written description provides an algorithm to achieve the “control access” function of the “user identification module.” View "Rain Computing, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd." on Justia Law

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Bayer’s patent is directed to recombinant forms of human factor VIII (FVIII), a protein that is produced, and released into the bloodstream, by the liver. In Bayer’s suit, alleging that Baxalta’s biologic product Adynovate® infringes certain claims of the patent, a jury found that the asserted claims were enabled and infringed, and that Bayer was entitled to reasonable-royalty damages. The district court did not send the question of willful infringement to the jury, holding as a matter of law that Baxalta’s conduct did not meet the requirements for willfulness.The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Baxalta’s challenges to the district court’s construction of the claim term “at the B-domain” and its interpretation of the word “random” in its construction of the claim term “an isolated polypeptide conjugate.” The court upheld the district court’s judgments of infringement and enablement as supported by substantial evidence, along with the court’s awards of damages and pre-verdict supplemental damages. Even accepting Bayer’s evidence as true and weighing all inferences in Bayer’s favor, the record is insufficient to establish that Baxalta’s “conduct rose to the level of wanton, malicious, and bad-faith behavior required for willful infringement.” View "Bayer HealthCare LLC v. Baxalta Inc." on Justia Law

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Dr. Arunachalam sued multiple defendants alleging patent infringement and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962, violations. The case was assigned to Judge Andrews. Arunachalam added defendants, including Judge Andrews, and moved for the judge's recusal. The court referred the matter to Chief Judge Stark. Arunachalam then moved to recuse Stark, who denied that motion and dismissed Judge Andrews as a defendant. Judge Andrews denied Arunachalam’s motion to recuse and dismissed several counts, explaining that “[p]atent infringement is not a crime,” and not a RICO predicate. Arunachalam unsuccessfully moved to vacate the dismissal and, again, to recuse Andrews. A motion for leave to amend was denied as violating local rules, “in bad faith.” Only the infringement claims remained. Meanwhile, the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) found the claims at issue unpatentable. After the appeals period expired, Arunachalam opposed a motion to dismiss, arguing that “the lawless misconduct and ... fraud by the PTAB and the Federal Circuit . . . voids their rulings.”In a motion for sanctions, the defendants noted that Arunachalam had re-asserted her RICO claim in another district court. The court awarded attorneys’ fees for “defending against a baseless racketeering lawsuit,” but did not rule on the specific amounts. Arunachalam continued to file motions and questions that required responses, including requests that Judge Andrews and “attorneys of record” produce their oaths of office, “foreign registration statements,” and “bond” and “insurance information.” The Federal Circuit affirmed awards totaling about $150,000, and denial of Arunachalam’s “frivolous” motions. Arunachalam’s “abusive” litigation conduct warranted monetary sanctions and her later-filed motions were baseless and untimely. View "Arunachalam v. International Business Machines Corp." on Justia Law

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In 2009, MC-2 was awarded Government Services Administration (GSA) task order to provide services for the annual GovEnergy Conference. MC-2 performed the Task Order in 2009, 2010, and 2011. GSA canceled the 2012 Conference before it began and requested that MC-2 return the entire Reserve Fund and an accounting for the Reserve Fund over the contract's life. MC-2 purportedly responded days later, arguing that GSA never before claimed that it was entitled to the difference between the Conference revenue and expenses, that MC-2 was entitled to any excess revenue, and that MC-2 had submitted a final accounting at the end of each contracting year. In 2012, MC-2 submitted a termination-for-convenience proposal.In November 2015, GSA sent MC-2 a letter providing the Contracting Officer’s final decision on MC-2’s proposal, which had sought $717,680.10, stating that the Government believed that MC-2 owed the government money. The decision stated that “GSA considers the Reserve Fund balance a contract debt. In January 2018, GSA sent a follow-up letter, demanding payment of $660,013.68. Because MC-2 had not appealed the November 2015 Final Decision, GSA deemed MC-2’s debt “final and conclusive,” 41 U.S.C. 7103(g)).In December 2018, MC-2 filed suit, arguing that the 2015 GSA letter was not a final decision because it failed to state a sum certain. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit as untimely because it was not brought within 12 months of the 2015 decision, as required by 41 U.S.C. 7104(b)(3). GSA issued a valid claim under the Contract Disputes Act for the return of the Reserve Funds; GSA’s claim was the subject of a written decision by the GSA contracting officer; and MC-2 failed to file suit within 12 months of receiving the contracting officer’s final decision View "Creative Management Services, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 2013, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command installed copyrighted graphics-rendering software created by German company Bitmanagement onto all computers in the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. No express contract or license agreement authorized the Navy’s actions. In 2016, Bitmanagement filed suit, alleging copyright infringement, 28 U.S.C. 1498(b). The Claims Court found that, while Bitmanagement had established a prima facie case of copyright infringement, the Navy was not liable because it was authorized to make copies by an implied license, arising from the Navy’s purchase of individual licenses to test the software and various agreements between the Navy and the vendor.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded for the calculation of damages. The Claims Court ended its analysis prematurely by failing to consider whether the Navy complied with the terms of the implied license, which can readily be understood from the parties’ entire course of dealings. The implied license was conditioned on the Navy using a license-tracking software, Flexera, to “FlexWrap” the program and monitor the number of simultaneous users. The Navy failed to effectively FlexWrap the copies it made; Flexera tracking did not occur as contemplated by the implied license. That failure to comply creates liability for infringement. View "Bitmanagement Software GMBH v. United States" on Justia Law

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SynQor’s 190 patent issued in 2006, as part of an extensive family of patents that disclose technology for DC-DC power converters used in large computer systems and data communication equipment to convert direct electric current from one voltage to another. In 2011, SynQor asserted several patents against Vicor. Vicor petitioned for reexamination of the 190, 702, and 290 patents. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed that claims of the 702 patent were not unpatentable, finding that “there are incompatibilities in frequency between” prior references Cobos and Steigerwald, and found the challenged claims of the 290 patent not unpatentable based on a combination of Steigerwald, Cobos, and another reference.The Federal Circuit court affirmed the patentability of the claims of the 290 patent and the finding the 702 patent not unpatentable but did not reach the finding that Steigerwald and Cobos were incompatible. The 190 patent expired in 2018. A year later, the Board issued its decision in the 190 reexamination, rejecting SynQor’s argument that Steigerwald and Cobos had incompatible frequencies.The Federal Circuit vacated. Common law issue preclusion arising from the 702 and 290 reexaminations collaterally estopped the Board from finding that an artisan would be motivated to combine Steigerwald and Cobos. The Board’s decision on newly presented claims 34–38 became moot with the patent's expiration. View "SynQor, Inc. v. Vicor Corp." on Justia Law

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Bean’s patent, issued in 2002, covers an auger-type poultry chiller. Days after the patent issued, Bean’s only domestic competition, Morris, wrote a demand letter, arguing that the patent was invalid and citing prior art. Morris received no response and proceeded to develop and sell chillers that included features described in the Bean patent. About 11 years later, Bean requested ex parte reexamination of its patent. After John Bean amended and added claims, the Patent and Trademark Office issued a reexamination certificate; six weeks after receiving that certificate, Bean filed suit, alleging that Morris infringed the patent once the reexamination certificate issued.The Federal Circuit affirmed partial summary judgment in favor of Morris. A defendant, accused of infringing a reissued patent, may raise the affirmative defense of equitable intervening rights, 35 U.S.C. 252, and may be protected from liability for infringement of substantively and substantially altered claims in a reissued patent. Granting equitable intervening rights is a matter of judicial discretion. Once granted, they give the alleged infringer the continued right to manufacture, sell, or use the accused product after the reexamination certificate is issued “when the defendant made, purchased, or used identical products, or made substantial preparations to make, use, or sell identical products, before the reissue date.” The public has the right to use what is not specifically claimed in the original patent. View "John Bean Technologies Corp. v. Morris & Associates, Inc." on Justia Law

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Melanoscan’s patent, titled “Apparatus for Total Immersion Photography,” relates to the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of skin cancer as well as other diseases and cosmetic conditions of the visible human. The apparatus claimed as a “device” is an enclosure fitted with cameras and lights arranged in a manner that “allows for the imaging of total or subtotal non-occluded body surfaces in order to detect health and cosmetic conditions and involves the measurement and analysis of an optically depicted image of a patient’s surfaces.” Canfield petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Board for inter partes review (IPR) of multiple claims, asserting unpatentability on the ground of obviousness. The Board ruled that all of the challenged claims are patentable.The Federal Circuit reversed as to independent claims 1 and 51, and vacated and remanded as to the dependent claims in the petition. Claims 1 and 51 place the subject within the enclosure, as in the prior art, and place multiple cameras and lights within the enclosure, as in the prior art; the subject matter described in claims 1 and 51 would have been obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the field of the invention. View "Canfield Scientific, Inc. v. Melanoscan, LLC" on Justia Law

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Giles served on active Army duty, 1976-1982. He first claimed a service-connected nervous condition with the VA in March 1984; he was diagnosed with a personality disorder. While his claim was pending, he reported for Reserve training in June 1984. He soon was hospitalized, was diagnosed with organic delusional syndrome, and was discharged in November 1984. The VA denied his claim. In 1985, Giles was hospitalized, with an admitting diagnosis of schizophrenia. Upon discharge, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The VA denied his request to reopen. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals affirmed in 1987, finding that “[a]n acquired psychiatric disorder was neither incurred in nor aggravated by service nor may a psychosis be presumed to have been incurred in active military service.”In 1995, Giles claimed service-connected PTSD. The VA awarded him service connection for bipolar disorder, effective in 1995. In 2012, Giles filed a request to revise the 1987 Board decision for clear and unmistakable error because the Board failed to recognize Giles’s claim on a presumptive basis for his 1984 diagnosis. The Board rejected the motion, stating, that 1987 regulations provided that the presumption of service incurrence of certain diseases, such as psychosis, did not apply to a period of active duty for training; a person serving on active duty for training was not considered a “veteran” during that service. The Veterans Court and Federal Circuit affirmed; “psychoses,” under 38 C.F.R. 3.309(a), refers to a category of diseases; whether diseases falling within this category are the same is a factual question outside of the courts' jurisdiction. View "Giles v. McDonough" on Justia Law