Justia U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Andra Group, LP v. Victoria’s Secret Stores, LLC
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
Mondis Technology Ltd. v. LG Electronics Inc.
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
Tadlock v. McDonough
Tadlock served in the Army, 1982-2003, including service in the Persian Gulf. In 2010, he suffered a pulmonary embolism (PE) that resulted in a heart attack. Tadlock sought presumptive service connection under 38 U.S.C. 1117, which refers to a “qualifying chronic disability” for veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War. The regulations limit the definition of “qualifying chronic disability” to one that, “[b]y history, physical examination, and laboratory tests cannot be attributed to any known clinical diagnosis.” Tadlock underwent a final medical examination by a VA physician, who explained that Tadlock’s PE “is not an undiagnosed illness.” The Board of Veterans Appeals based its denial of service connection on that opinion.Neither the Board nor the examiner made any finding that Tadlock’s condition was not a “medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness” (MUCMI). Tadlock contended that the statute expressly includes both “an undiagnosed illness” and a MUCMI. The Veterans Court found that Tadlock's PE was "not characterized by overlapping signs and symptoms and unique features ... and disproportional disability when compared with physical findings.” It held that "any error in the Board decision regarding whether his diagnosed illness could count as a MUCMI is harmless.”The Federal Circuit vacated. The Veterans Court exceeded its authority in making a fact-finding in the first instance that Tadlock’s illness did not qualify as a MUCMI because of a lack of overlapping symptoms. The Veterans Court’s jurisdiction to consider prejudicial error does not give it the right to make de novo findings of fact or otherwise resolve matters that are open to debate. View "Tadlock v. McDonough" on Justia Law
Straw v. United States
Straw claims that he was injured as an infant by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and that his injury resulted in a mental disability. Straw previously sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). That action was combined with similar cases in a Multidistrict Litigation proceeding in the Northern District of Georgia, which ruled that Straw’s FTCA claims were barred by North Carolina’s 10-year statute of repose. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed; the Supreme Court denied certiorari.Straw then filed suit, seeking $6,000,000 in compensatory damages, arguing that the rulings of the Georgia district court constituted a judicial taking of his tort claims and the damages he sought in that action. The Claims Court dismissed his complaint, citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit affirmed. By claiming that the Georgia district court and the Eleventh Circuit had caused a taking of his personal-injury cause of action, Straw was effectively asking the Claims Court to overturn the decisions of those courts that his FTCA claim was time-barred. The court noted that Straw’s claim sounded in tort, given the underlying personal bodily harm; tort claims are expressly excluded from the jurisdiction of the Claims Court under the Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491. View "Straw v. United States" on Justia Law
TR International Trading Co., Inc. v. United States
TRI filed entries of citric acid, identifying India as the country of origin, which allowed TRI to file the subject entries as type 01 “consumption” entries, which are not subject to duties, rather than type 03 “consumption—antidumping (AD)/countervailing duty (CVD)” entries. Customs requested information regarding the entries. TRI responded with documentation of the purchase and receipt of citric acid monohydrate from suppliers in India and the processing of the citric acid monohydrate into citric acid anhydrous. TRI admits that the origin of the citric acid monohydrate is unknown. Customs extended liquidation of the entries, 19 U.S.C. 1504(b)(1). Customs’ Office of Laboratory and Scientific Services investigated the processing of the citric acid in India; Customs determined that the product was not substantially transformed and therefore not a product of India. The entries would be liquidated with the applicable consumption, anti-dumping and countervailing duties.TRI filed suit in the Court of International Trade, asserting residual jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(I). Separately, TRI also protested Customs’ liquidation of its entries. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Trade Court’s dismissal of the suit for lack of jurisdiction because jurisdiction was available under other section 1581 subsections. Where a plaintiff asserts section 1581(i) jurisdiction, it “bears the burden of showing that another subsection is either unavailable or manifestly inadequate.” TRI has not established that a scope determination or a protest were unavailable or manifestly inadequate. View "TR International Trading Co., Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
In re Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Ikorongo Texas was formed as a Texas LLC and, a month later, filed patent infringement complaints in the Western District of Texas. Although "Texas" claims to be unrelated to Ikorongo Tech, a North Carolina LLC, both are run out of the same North Carolina office; as of March 2020, the same five individuals “own[ed] all of the issued and outstanding membership interests” in both. "Tech" owns the patents at issue. Days before the complaints were filed, Tech assigned to Texas exclusive rights to sue for infringement and collect damages for those patents within specified parts of Texas while retaining those rights in the rest of the country. First amended complaints named both entities as co-plaintiffs and do not distinguish between infringement in the Western District of Texas and infringement elsewhere.The defendants moved under 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) to transfer the suits to the Northern District of California, arguing that three of the five accused third-party applications were developed in and potential witnesses and sources of proof were located in Northern California while no application was developed or researched in and no sources of proof were in Western Texas. The court denied the motions, reasoning that Ikorongo Texas’s rights could not have been infringed in California.The Federal Circuit directed the lower court to grant the transfer motions. The case “might have been brought” in California; the presence of Ikorongo Texas is recent, ephemeral, and artificial—a maneuver in anticipation of litigation. The district court here assigned too little weight to the relative convenience of California and overstated concerns about judicial resources and inconsistent results; other public interest factors favor transfer. View "In re Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd." on Justia Law
Arellano v. McDonough
The “effective date of an award” of disability compensation to a veteran “shall not be earlier than the date” the veteran’s application for such compensation is received by the VA. 38 U.S.C. 5110(a)(1). Section 5110(b)(1) provides an exception that permits an earlier effective date if the VA receives the application within one year of the veteran’s discharge from military service: under such circumstances, the effective date of the award shall date back to “the day following the date of the veteran’s discharge or release.”Arellano filed his application more than 30 years after he was discharged from the Navy, he argued that section 5110(b)(1)’s one-year period should be equitably tolled to afford his award an earlier effective date reaching back to the day after his discharge. The Veterans Court denied Arellano an effective date earlier than the date his disability benefits application was received by the VA. The Federal Circuit previously held that 5110(b)(1) is not a statute of limitations amenable to equitable tolling but merely establishes an effective date for the payment of benefits, thereby categorically foreclosing equitable tolling. The Federal Circuit affirmed as to Arellano, declining to overrule that precedent, stating that the statutory text evinces clear intent to foreclose equitable tolling of section 5110(b)(1)’s one-year period. View "Arellano v. McDonough" on Justia Law
Chandler v. Phoenix Services LLC
In 2006 Heat On-The-Fly began using a new fracking technology on certain jobs. Heat’s owner later filed a patent application regarding the process but failed to disclose 61 public uses of the process that occurred over a year before the application was filed. This application led to the 993 patent. Heat asserted that patent against several parties. In 2014, Phoenix acquired Heat and the patent. Chandler alleges that enforcement of the 993 patent continued in various forms. In an unrelated 2018 suit, the Federal Circuit affirmed a holding that the knowing failure to disclose prior uses of the fracking process rendered the 993 patent unenforceable due to inequitable conduct.Chandler filed a “Walker Process” monopolization action under the Sherman Act, which required that the antitrust-defendant obtained the patent by knowing and willful fraud on the patent office and maintained and enforced that patent with knowledge of the fraudulent procurement, and proof of “all other elements necessary to establish a Sherman Act monopolization claim.” The Federal Circuit transferred the case to the Fifth Circuit, which has appellate jurisdiction over cases from the Northern District of Texas. The court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction because this case does not arise under the patent laws of the United States. View "Chandler v. Phoenix Services LLC" on Justia Law
New Vision Gaming & Development, Inc. v. SG Gaming, Inc.
New Vision sued SG in the federal district court in Nevada. SG then filed Patent Trial and Appeal Board petitions. The Board declined to respect the forum selection agreement in the parties’ license agreement, which referred to “exclusive” jurisdiction in the appropriate federal or state court in the state of Nevada, and proceeded to a final decision, finding the claims at issue as well as proposed substitute claims, patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101.The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Board’s decisions for consideration of the forum selection clause in light of its 2019 “Arthrex” decision. Because Arthrex issued after the Board’s final-written decisions and after New Vision sought Board rehearing, New Vision has not waived its Arthrex challenge by raising it for the first time in its opening brief. The Board’s rejection of the parties’ choice of forum is subject to judicial review; section 324(e) does not bar review of Board decisions “separate . . . to the in[stitu]tion decision.” View "New Vision Gaming & Development, Inc. v. SG Gaming, Inc." on Justia Law
Trimble Inc. v. PerDiemCo LLC
PerDiemCo, a Texas LLC, is the assignee of the patents, which relate to electronic logging devices. PerDiemCo’s current sole owner, officer, and employee, Babayi, lives and works in Washington, D.C. PerDiemCo rents office space in Texas, which Babayi has never visited. Trimble and ISE, Trimble’s wholly owned subsidiary, manufacture and sell GPS devices. Trimble, incorporated in Delaware, is headquartered in California. ISE is an Iowa LLC with an Iowa principal place of business.Babayi sent a letter to ISE accusing ISE of using technology covered by PerDiemCo’s patents, stating that PerDiemCo “actively licenc[es]” its patents and listed companies that had entered into nonexclusive licenses after the companies had “collectively spent tens of millions of dollars" on litigation. Babayi offered a nonexclusive license. ISE forwarded the letter to Trimble’s Chief IP Counsel, Brodsky, in Colorado, who explained that Trimble would be PerDiemCo’s contact. Babayi replied that PerDiemCo also believed that Trimble’s products infringed its patents. The parties communicated by letter, telephone, and email at least 22 times before Trimble and ISE sought a declaratory judgment of noninfringement in the Northern District of California. The district court held that it lacked specific personal jurisdiction over PerDiemCo. The Federal Circuit reversed. In patent litigation, communications threatening suit or proposing settlement or patent licenses can establish personal jurisdiction. A broad set of a defendant’s contacts with a forum are relevant to the minimum contacts analysis. Here, the minimum contacts or purposeful availment test was satisfied. View "Trimble Inc. v. PerDiemCo LLC" on Justia Law