Articles Posted in U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals

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Consumer Watchdog describes itself as a “not-for-profit public charity dedicated to providing a voice for taxpayers and consumers in special interest-dominated public discourse, government and politics.” In 2006, Consumer Watchdog requested inter partes reexamination of the 913 patent, which is owned by WARF and is generally directed to human embryonic stem cell cultures. Consumer Watchdog did not allege any involvement in research or commercial activities involving human embryonic stem cells. Nor did it allege that it is an actual or prospective competitor of WARF or licensee of the 913 patent. Instead, Consumer Watchdog simply alleged that WARF’s “broad and aggressive assertion of the 913 patent has put a severe burden on taxpayer funded research in the State of California where [Consumer Watchdog] is located.” Consumer Watchdog claimed concern that the patent allowed WARF to completely preempt all uses of human embryonic stem cells, particularly those for scientific and medical research. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed the patentability of challenged claims. The Federal Circuit dismissed an appeal, stating that Consumer Watchdog did not establish an injury in fact sufficient to confer Article III standing. View "Consumer Watchdog v. WI Alumni Research Found." on Justia Law

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Matthews enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1990. In 2006, while on active duty, he pled guilty to computer pornography and solicitation of a child. He was sentenced to 21 years plus 10 months in prison. In 2007, an administrative separation board imposed an “other than honorable” discharge on Matthews. In 2010, Matthews sought back pay from the date of his arrest and “retainer” pay, based on a total of 20 years of active duty, reached while incarcerated. He claimed he was not properly discharged, citing the Government in the Sunshine Act, 5 U.S.C. 552b; the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552; the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, 10 U.S.C. 1034; and the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 706. The Claims Court of held that it lacked jurisdiction over claims founded on the four statutes because they are not money-mandating and held that Matthews failed to state claims for back pay under 37 U.S.C. 204(a) and retainer pay under 10 U.S.C. 6330(b). The statute prohibits service members from receiving pay for absences without leave that are not unavoidable; an absence due to civilian incarceration is not unavoidable. When he was arrested Matthews had not reached the 20 years of active duty service required to receive retainer pay. The Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Matthews v. United States" on Justia Law

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The 140 and 771 patents are directed to light-emitting diode (LED) string lights that include an LED, an insulated electrical conductor (wire), and an insulation displacement connector (IDC connector). Power must be provided from the insulated electrical conductor to the LEDs. To accomplish this, the patents disclose an IDC connector with terminals that are electrically connected to the LEDs and configured to displace a portion of the insulation surrounding the electrical conductor. GE sued AgiLight, for infringement. After claim construction, the parties stipulated to noninfringement of the 140 and 771 patents on the grounds that AgiLight’s products do not include an IDC connector as construed by the court. The district court entered partial summary judgment consistent with the stipulation and granted AgiLight summary judgment of noninfringement of the 896 and 055 patents. The Federal Circuit affirmed with respect to the 055 patent, but otherwise reversed and remanded. View "GE Lighting Solutions, LLC v. AgiLight, Inc." on Justia Law

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Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, each of the Oil Companies entered into contracts with the government to provide high-octane aviation gas (avgas) to fuel military aircraft. The production of avgas resulted in waste products such as spent alkylation acid and “acid sludge.” The Oil Companies contracted to have McColl, a former Shell engineer, dump the waste at property in Fullerton, California. More than 50 years later, California and the federal government obtained compensation from the Oil Companies under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. 9601, for the cost of cleaning up the McColl site. The Oil Companies sued, arguing the avgas contracts require the government to indemnify them for the CERCLA costs. The Court of Federal Claims granted summary judgment in favor of the government. The Federal Circuit reversed with respect to breach of contract liability and remanded. As a concession to the Oil Companies, the avgas contracts required the government to reimburse the Oil Companies for their “charges.” The court particularly noted the immense regulatory power the government had over natural resources during the war and the low profit margin on the avgas contracts. View "Shell Oil Co. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Apple claimed infringement of 15 patents by Motorola. Motorola counterclaimed, asserting six of its own patents. The patents concern use of finger contacts to control a touchscreen computer. Both sought declaratory judgments of non-infringement and invalidity. Based upon its claim construction decisions, the district court granted summary judgment of non-infringement with respect to certain claims and excluded most of both parties’ damages expert evidence for remaining claims. With little admissible expert evidence, the court granted summary judgment that neither side was entitled to damages or an injunction. Despite infringement being assumed, the district court dismissed all claims with prejudice. With three Apple patents and three Motorola patents at issue, the Federal Circuit affirmed the claim construction decisions, with one exception. The district court mistakenly construed certain limitations as means-plus-function limitations. With one minor exception, the court reversed the decision to exclude damages evidence presented by both parties and the grant of summary judgment of no damages for infringement of Apple’s patents. Based on reversal of claim construction, the court vacated summary judgment regarding Apple’s request for an injunction. The court agreed that Motorola is not entitled to an injunction for infringement View "Apple Inc. v. Motorola, Inc." on Justia Law

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Gilbert served in the Navy. His reported medical history upon entry into service revealed no psychiatric defects. After leaving service, Gilbert was diagnosed with major depression and required treatment for psychiatric illness and alcohol dependence. Gilbert acknowledged that he experienced depressive episodes and suicidal ideation throughout his life, that he has been abusing drugs and alcohol since he was a teenager, and that he continued to abuse alcohol while in the Navy. Gilbert sought compensation for psychiatric disability and other conditions with the VA. Multiple psychiatric examinations produced conflicting opinions. The VA denied service connection; the Board affirmed. The statutory “[p]resumption of sound condition” was applicable because no psychiatric condition was noted upon entry into service, 38 U.S.C. 1111; to rebut the presumption, the government had to provide clear and unmistakable evidence demonstrating that the disease existed before enrollment and was not aggravated by service. Based on Gilbert’s acknowledged history, the Board concluded that the government proved that his psychiatric illness pre-existed enrollment, but that the government failed to establish that Gilbert’s “pre-existing depression was not aggravated by active service,” and did not rebut the presumption of soundness. The Board nevertheless denied service connection, concluding that Gilbert failed to prove that his post-service psychiatric conditions “were correlated to [his] military experiences.” The Veterans Court and Federal Circuit affirmed. View "Gilbert v. Shinseki" on Justia Law

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AutoAlert sued Dominion, alleging infringement of five patents that claim systems and methods that involve alerting a car dealership when a new lease or sale opportunity seems a good fit for a past customer. After being served the complaint in that California action, Dominion timely petitioned the Director for inter partes reviews of the five patents under 35 U.S.C. 311-319. The district court stayed the case. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board denied the petition, deciding not to institute any of the requested inter partes reviews, for failure to show “a reasonable likelihood that the petitioner would prevail with respect to at least 1 of the claims challenged.” Dominion filed in a Virginia district court, invoking jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331 & 1338 and seeking relief from the non-institution decision under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 701-706, the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. 2201-2202, and a mandamus statute, 28 U.S.C. 1361. Dominion then sought a writ of mandamus in the Federal Circuit under 28 U.S.C. 1651, challenging the Director’s non-institution decision. The Federal Circuit denied relief, stating that the relevant statutory provisions make clear that it may not hear an appeal from the Director’s decision not to institute an inter partes review. View "In re: Dominion Dealer Solutions, LLC" on Justia Law

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P&G owns patents that claim systems or methods for whitening teeth. P&G sued TT, alleging infringement of the three patents; in another district, Clio, which manufactured the accused products, sought a declaratory judgment action against P&G, alleging that the patents were invalid, unenforceable, or not infringed. In its declaratory-judgment action. P&G amended its complaint in the Ohio action to add Clio as a defendant. When TT and Clio then moved for a stay or a transfer to New Jersey, the Ohio district court denied both motions. The New Jersey district court dismissed Clio’s declaratory-judgment action there without prejudice. Clio then timely petitioned the PTO to institute inter partes reviews of the patents under 35 U.S.C. 311-319. P&G responded, arguing that Clio’s earlier declaratory judgment action involving the same three patents, though it had been voluntarily dismissed, barred the institution of inter partes reviews under section 315(a). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board disagreed and granted all three petitions, because 35 U.S.C. 315(a)(1) states: “An inter partes review may not be instituted if, before the date on which the petition for such a review is filed, the petitioner or real party in interest filed a civil action challenging the validity of a claim of the patent.” P&G sought a writ of mandamus under 28 U.S.C. 1651. The Federal Circuit denied the petition, stating that mandamus action is not available. View "In re: Procter & Gamble Co." on Justia Law

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In 2010, St. Jude sued Volcano, alleging infringement of five patents. Volcano counterclaimed, asserting infringement of the 994 patent. More than two years later, the district court, based on the stipulations of the parties, dismissed all claims relating to the 994 patent. Six months after the dismissal, St. Jude sought inter partes review of the 994 patent. The Director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, through the Board, denied the petition, stating that a counterclaim alleging infringement constitutes a “complaint alleging infringement of the patent” under 35 U.S.C. 315(b), which bars institution of an inter partes review of a patent if the petitioner was served with a complaint alleging infringement of the patent more than one year before filing the petition. Accordingly, the 2010 counterclaim against St. Jude barred the Director from instituting an inter partes review. The Federal Circuit dismissed, based on the structure of the inter partes review provisions, on the language of section 314(d) within that structure, and on its jurisdictional statute read in light of those provisions. View "St. Jude Medical, Cardiology Div., Inc. v. Volcano Corp." on Justia Law

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Vaillancourt obtained ownership of the 221 patent from his mother through an assignment recorded with the PTO in 2011. Vaillancourt represents that the assignment took effect in 2005. In 2010, BD requested an inter partes reexamination of the 221 patent. During the reexamination proceedings, Vaillancourt added claims 21 through 37 to the original 20 claims. The patent examiner rejected all 37 claims. While an appeal was pending, Vaillancourt assigned to VLV “the entire right, title and interest in and to” the 221 patent, “including full and exclusive rights to sue upon and otherwise enforce” the patent. VLV sued BD for infringement in its own name and did not join Vaillancourt. The Board subsequently affirmed all of the examiner’s rejections. Despite no longer being the owner of the patent, Vaillancourt unsuccessfully requested rehearing in his own name. Vaillancourt appealed to the Federal Circuit, identifying himself in the notice of appeal as both the patent owner and appellant. BD moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit ultimately dismissed for lack of standing. View "Vaillancourt v. Becton Dickinson & Co." on Justia Law