Articles Posted in Contracts

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Plaintiffs each entered into agreements to provide services to Voice of America (VOA), a U.S. government-funded broadcast service. The agreements were a series of individual purchase order vendor (POV) contracts that each plaintiff entered into over several years with the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees VOA. In 2014, the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State issued a report that was critical of the BBG’s use of POV contracts, concluding that the BBG was using such contracts in some cases to obtain personal services. Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint alleging that, along with other individuals who have served as independent contractors for VOA, they should have been retained through personal services contracts or appointed to positions in the civil service. If their contracts had been classified as personal services contracts or they had been appointed to civil service positions, they alleged, they would have enjoyed enhanced compensation and benefits. The Claims Court dismissed and denied their request for leave to file a proposed second amended complaint. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting several contract-based claims, seeking damages for the loss of the additional compensation and benefits to which Plaintiffs contend they were entitled. Plaintiffs have set forth no viable theory of recovery. View "Lee v. United States" on Justia Law

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XY’s patents relate to the sorting of X- and Y-chromosome-bearing sperm cells, for selective breeding purposes. Trans Ova provides services related to embryo transfer and in-vitro fertilization for cattle. XY and Trans Ova entered into a five-year licensing agreement in 2004 under which Trans Ova was authorized to use XY’s technology, subject to automatic renewal unless Trans Ova was in material breach. In 2007, Inguran acquired XY and sent a letter purporting to terminate the Agreement because of alleged breaches. For several years, the parties negotiated but failed to resolve their disputes. Trans Ova continued to make royalty payments to XY, which were declined. XY alleges that it became aware of further breaches, including underpayment of royalties and development of improvements to XY’s technology without disclosure of such improvements to XY. XY sued for patent infringement and breach of contract. Trans Ova counterclaimed, alleging patent invalidity, breach of contract, and antitrust violations. The district court granted XY summary judgment on the antitrust counterclaims. A jury found breaches of contract by both parties; that Trans Ova failed to prove that the asserted patent claims were invalid and willfully infringed the asserted claims; and XY was entitled to patent infringement damages. The court denied all of Trans Ova’s requested relief and granted XY an ongoing royalty. The Federal Circuit affirmed except the ongoing royalty rate, which it remanded for recalculation. View "XY, LLC v. Trans Ova Genetics, L.C." on Justia Law

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TAOS and Intersil were both developing ambient light sensors for electronic devices. Ambient light sensors use a silicon- or other semiconductor-based photodiode that absorbs light and conducts a current. The resulting photocurrent is detected by a sensor, and measurements of the current, a function of the ambient light, are used to adjust the brightness of an electronic screen display. One benefit is better visibility; another is improved battery efficiency. In 2004, the parties confidentially shared technical and financial information during negotiations regarding a possible merger that did not occur. Soon after, Intersil released new sensors with the technical design TAOS had disclosed in the confidential negotiations. TAOS sued for infringement of its patent, and for trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract, and tortious interference with prospective business relations under Texas state law. A jury returned a verdict for TAOS and awarded damages on all four claims. The Federal Circuit affirmed liability for trade secret misappropriation, though on a more limited basis than TAOS presented to the jury, and affirmed liability for infringement of the asserted apparatus claims of the patent, but vacated the monetary awards. The court noted that there was no evidence of Intersil’s independent design of the photodiode array structure. View "Texas Advanced Optoelectronic Solutions, Inc. v. Renesas Electronics America, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was established to rule Iraq pending transfer of authority to the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG). CPA awarded Agility a Contract to operate warehouses, providing that “[t]he obligation under this contract is made with Iraqi funds.” Agility acknowledged the impending transfer of authority and CPA’s scheduled dissolution. CPA authorized the IIG Minister of Finance to delegate contract administration to CPA’s Program Management Office (PMO). CPA administered Development Fund for Iraq (DFI), composed of various sources, including revenue from sales of Iraqi petroleum and natural gas. The IIG Minister delegated contract-administration responsibility concerning DFI-funded contracts to the PMO but did not give PMO contracting authority. Subsequent Contract task orders obligated U.S. funds. A U.S. contracting officer (CO) determined that Agility owed the government $81 million due to overpayment. Separately, Agility unsuccessfully sought $47 million for unpaid fees. The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals dismissed Agility's appeals for lack of jurisdiction under the Contract Disputes Act (CDA), 41 U.S.C. 7101–7109. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Board’s CDA jurisdiction is limited to contracts “made by an ‘executive agency.’” CPA was not an executive agency under the CDA. CPA awarded the Contract and there was no evidence that it was novated or assigned to an executive agency. The government acted as a contract administrator, not as a contracting party. View "Agility Logistics Services Co., KSC v. Mattis" on Justia Law

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Meridian contracted to construct the Chula Vista Project flood control project, including construction of concrete channels, relocation of a sewer line, and dewatering and water diversion. After commencing work, Meridian encountered problems relating to “a layer of dripping saturated dark clay material under which a clean layer of sand is producing water” with “the potential for serious structural damage.” The government issued contract modifications, including an increase in funds for larger pipe, addition of a reinforced concrete access ramp, investigation of soil properties, remediation of saturated soils, and additional sheet piling. The government directed Meridian to suspend work following structural failures and terminated the project following a final inspection. Meridian sued for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and violation of the Contract Disputes Act, 41 U.S.C. 601−613. The government conceded liability for certain costs relating to suspension of work, channel fill, and interim protection. With respect to other claims, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part. Meridian’s interpretation of the contract was not reasonable; the existence of subsurface saturated soil conditions was “reasonably foreseeable.” The Trade Court did not impose an improper requirement for investigation of site conditions beyond what a reasonable contractor would undertake. The court remanded for consideration of whether the parties reached a meeting of the minds on flood event claims and held that the Trade Court erred dismissing Meridian’s unpaid contract quantities claim, in light of conflicting information. View "Meridian Engineering Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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MACOM’s predecessor developed semiconductors using gallium nitride (GaN), obtained patents related to that technology, and sold those patents to Infineon's predecessor, retaining rights under separate license agreement. That agreement defines a “Field of Use” characterized by GaN-on-silicon technology and licenses MACOM to practice the GaN patents within the “Field of Use only.” MACOM and Infineon share rights to practice the patents in the Field of Use. The agreement defines an “Exclusive Field” within the Field of Use in which MACOM has exclusive rights to practice the patents—even as against Infineon. Infineon notified MACOM that it believed MACOM had breached the agreement by making and selling products using GaN-on-silicon-carbide technology, which is distinct from GaN-on-Si technology and outside the Field of Use. MACOM responded that the GaN-on-SiC sales were minimal and that any breach had been cured. Infineon terminated the Agreement. MACOM sued, asserting contract claims and seeking a declaratory judgment of noninfringement and obtained a preliminary injunction. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part, agreeing that MACOM could likely establish that its activity outside the Field of Use did not breach the agreement and that MACOM would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction. The court vacated two sentences in the injunction for lacking specificity. View "MACOM Technology Solutions Holdings, Inc. v. Infineon Technologies Americas Corp." on Justia Law

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Securiforce entered into a requirements contract with the government to deliver fuel to eight sites in Iraq. The government terminated the contract for convenience with respect to two sites because Securiforce intended to supply fuel from Kuwait, reasoning that delivery to those sites would violate the Trade Agreements Act, 19 U.S.C. 2501, and that obtaining a waiver would take too long. Weeks later, the government ordered small deliveries to two sites, to occur by October 24. Securiforce indicated that it could not deliver until November. The government notified Securiforce that it should offer justifiable excuses or risk termination. Securiforce responded that the late deliveries were excused by improper termination for convenience, failure to provide required security escorts, small orders, and other alleged irregularities. The government terminated the contract for default. Securiforce filed suit (Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1491; Contract Disputes Act, 41 U.S.C. 7101-09). The Claims Court found that it had jurisdiction to review both terminations; that the Contracting Officer abused her discretion in partially terminating the contract for convenience; and that the termination for default was proper. The Federal Circuit affirmed in part. The court lacked jurisdiction over the termination for convenience; a contractor’s request for a declaratory judgment that the government materially breached a contract violates the rule that courts will not grant equitable relief when money damages are adequate. The government did not breach the contract by terminating for convenience or with respect to providing security. View "Securiforce International America, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law

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The patent, entitled “Full Duplex Single Clip Video Codec” lists co-inventors, Woo, Li, and Hsiun, and was created while they were Infochips employees. Infochips’ “receivables,” pledged as security, were seized by LM when Infochips went out of business in 1993; in 1995, LM sold Infochips’s assets to Woo. Woo assigned his interest in the patent to AVC. In 1995, AVC filed the patent's parent application. Woo and Li assigned their interests to AVC. Hsiun refused to do so. The PTO permitted AVC to prosecute the application without that assignment. AVC claimed that it obtained Hsiun’s interests by Hsiun's 1992 Employment Agreement with Infochips. The patent was issued to AVC, which later dissolved, after purporting to transfer its assets to its successors (Advanced Video). In 2011, Advanced Video filed patent infringement lawsuits. The district court found that AVC had not complied with Delaware statutes governing dissolved corporations and that no patent rights had transferred to Advanced Video. The cases were dismissed. The state court appointed a Receiver to transfer AVC's patent rights to Advanced Video. After the transfer, Advanced Video filed new infringement lawsuits, arguing that its acquisition of Hsiun’s interest was effected by the Employment Agreement’s “will assign,” trust and quitclaim provisions. The court rejected the argument and, because Hsiun was not a party to the suit, dismissed for lack of standing. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Hsiun never actually assigned her rights, despite her promises to do so. View "Advanced Video Technologies, LLC v. HTC Corp." on Justia Law

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Under 42 U.S.C. 1485, the USDA's Rural Housing Service (RHS) makes loans for construction of affordable rental housing. From 1972-1982, each of 10 limited partnerships (with a common general partner, Olsen) entered into a 50-year loan agreement that stated that each borrower could pay off the loan and convert its properties to conventional housing after 15 or 20 years. The 1987 Emergency Low Income Housing Preservation Act, 42 U.S.C. 1472(c)), provided that before accepting prepayment, the USDA must attempt to enter into an agreement with the borrower. In 2002, Olsen was negotiating to sell to a nonprofit organization. He notified the RHS of “intent . . . to convert [some] units into conventional housing” and sought approval to pay off the mortgages. RHS responded with a checklist. Olsen did not proceed; the potential acquirer decided against purchasing the properties. In 2011, Olsen submitted more definite prepayment requests. RHS responded with an incentive offer concerning four properties, which Olsen accepted, remaining in the program. For three other properties, RHS informed Olsen that prepayment was not an option. Olsen purportedly believed that pursuing prepayment on any properties was futile. He did not submit additional applications. In 2013, the partnerships sued, alleging that the government, through the 1987 enactment or the 2011 correspondence, violated their prepayment rights. The Federal Circuit reversed the Claims Court's dismissal. The 2002 correspondence did not trigger the RHS’s duty to accept prepayment; RHS did not take any steps inconsistent with prepayment. The government did not breach its contractual obligation in 2002. Because the alleged breaches occurred no earlier than 2011, the contract claims are not barred by the six-year limitations period. The Claims Court implicitly premised the dismissal of takings claims on the same erroneous rationale. View "Airport Road Associates, Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law

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LFD operates a Lake Cumberland, Kentucky marina under a lease from the Army Corps of Engineers, covering approximately 130 acres of water and 36 acres of land. The Lease states: The right is reserved to the United States ... to enter upon the premises at any time and for any purpose necessary or convenient ... to flood the premises; to manipulate the level of the lake or pool in any manner whatsoever; and/or to make any other use of the lands as may be necessary in connection with project purposes, and the Lessee shall have no claim for damages. By 2007, Wolf Creek Dam, which created the lake, was at a high risk of failure; the Corps began lowering the lake's water level. The Corps returned the lake to its previous levels in 2014, when restoration was complete. LFD submitted a certified claim to the District Engineer, asserting $4,000,000 in damages. The Federal Circuit affirmed rejection of the claim. While the Lease is a contract for “the disposal of personal property” under 41 U.S.C. 7102(a)(4), giving the court jurisdiction, LFD did not properly present its reformation claim to the District Engineer. Rejecting a breach of contract claim, the court stated the Lease granted the Corps the right to manipulate the level of the lake in any manner whatsoever. View "Lee's Ford Dock, Inc. v. Secretary of the Army" on Justia Law