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Simmons contacted counsel in 2011, claiming that he developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome as a result of his 2010 flu vaccination. He provided his vaccination record. Counsel agreed to represent him. Counsel was subsequently unable to contact Simmons and sent a letter in 2013, stating that their attorney-client relationship had terminated. That letter was returned as undeliverable. Nearly two years later, shortly before the limitations period on his Vaccine Act claim would expire, Simmons contacted counsel’ and expressed that he would like to proceed. Counsel spoke with Simmons one additional time. The next day, on October 22, 2013, counsel filed Simmons’s petition, without any medical records or other supporting evidence. In January 2014, the special master ordered counsel to produce medical records. Counsel stated that counsel had again lost contact with Simmons and was unable to acquire those records. The master dismissed the case for failure to prosecute. Counsel then filed petitions seeking $8,267.89 in fees and costs. The master noted that because there was no direct evidence of bad faith and counsel had a vaccination receipt, counsel had satisfied the good faith and reasonable basis requirements and awarded fees. The Claims Court and Federal Circuit disagreed. The master erred in finding that counsel had a reasonable basis for Simmons’s claim. The fact that the statute of limitations was about to expire did not excuse counsel’s obligation to show some basis for the claim that Simmons suffered Guillain-Barre beyond their conversations. View "Simmons v. Secretary of Health and Human Services" on Justia Law

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TRICARE provides current and former members of the military and their dependents' medical and dental care. Hospitals that provide TRICARE services are reimbursed under Department of Defense (DoD) guidelines. TRICARE previously did not require, DoD to use Medicare reimbursement rules. A 2001 amendment, 10 U.S.C. 1079(j)(2), required TRICARE to use those rules to the extent practicable. DoD regulations noted the complexities of the transition process and the lack of comparable cost report data and stated “it is not practicable” to “adopt Medicare OPPS for hospital outpatient services at this time.” A study, conducted after hospitals complained, determined that DoD underpaid for outpatient radiology but correctly reimbursed other outpatient services. TRICARE created a process for review of radiology payments. Each plaintiff-hospital requested a discretionary payment, which required them to release “all claims . . . known or unknown” related to TRICARE payments. Several refused to sign the release and did not receive any payments. Although it discovered calculation errors with respect to hospitals represented by counsel, TRICARE did not recalculate payments for any hospitals that did not contest their discretionary payment offer. The Claims Court dismissed the hospitals’ suit. The Federal Circuit reversed in part, finding that they may bring a claim for breach of contract but may not bring money-mandating claims under 10 U.S.C. 1079(j)(2) and 32 C.F.R. 199.7(h)(2) because the government’s interpretation of the statute was reasonable. View "Ingham Regional Medical Center v. United States" on Justia Law

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Freeman's company, RNR located eight mining claims on public lands of the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest. In 2011, RNR filed a plan of operations with the U.S. Forest Service for commercial mining of ore that “contains commercially recoverable amounts of nickel, chromium[,] and iron” from two deposits over the course of 30 years. RNR proposed the construction of nearly eight miles of new roads, excavation of a pit for water storage, construction of two crossings over a creek, and creation of a processing facility on a 20-acre site, to be located on lands managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Officials concluded that the BLM office had not received a complete plan of operation and requested a proposal for bulk sampling and construction of a pilot-prototype plant. Officials repeatedly asserted they would not process the pending plan without more specific information and a pilot-prototype. RNR did not respond to those requests, but sued, alleging a regulatory taking. The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal, of the suit finding the claim not ripe. The Forest Service has not reached a final decision and it is not clear compliance with its requests would be futile. View "Freeman v. United States" on Justia Law

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Two-Way’s patents, entitled “Multicasting Method and Apparatus,” generally relate to a system for streaming audio/visual data over a communications system like the internet. The patents explain that internet systems typically operate on a point-to-point, unicast, basis. In unicast systems, a message is converted into a series of addressed packets which are routed from a source node to a destination node. Unicast systems cannot broadcast a message from a source node to all the other recipients in a network, as this type of operation could easily overload the network. IP Multicasting provides a way to transmit one packet of information to multiple recipients; packets destined for several recipients are encapsulated in a unicast packet and forwarded from a source to a point in a network where the packets are replicated and forwarded on to all desired recipients. The patents explain that this technology had previously been used to provide internet-based audio/visual conferencing servicing and radio-like broadcasts and describe the invention as an improved scalable architecture for delivering real-time information. The Federal Circuit affirmed a holding that certain claims are directed to patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. 101. The claims are directed to abstract ideas and contain no additional elements that transform them into an application of the abstract ideas. View "Two-Way Media Ltd. v. Comcast Cable Communications, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2003, the FDA granted Bayer approval to market vardenafil hydrochloride trihydrate to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) under the name Levitra. Vardenafil belongs to a class of ED drugs called phosphodiesterase inhibitors. When the FDA approved Levitra, two other phosphodiesterase inhibitors were already on the market: Pfizer launched Viagra in 1998, and Eli Lilly launched Cialis in 2003. Each is formulated as immediate-release tablets that are swallowed whole. Bayer’s 950 patent issued in 2013, claiming priority to 2005; it is directed to a formulation of vardenafil as “an uncoated tablet which disintegrates rapidly in the mouth,” vardenafil ODT, which Bayer markets as Staxyn. Watson filed an FDA Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) seeking approval to market a generic version of Staxyn. Bayer alleged infringement. The Federal Circuit reversed the district court’s holding Watson failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that two claims would have been obvious, 35 U.S.C. 103. The district court clearly erred in finding a skilled artisan would not have been motivated to use the claim elements to formulate an ED drug as a fast-dissolving tablet; the claims would have been obvious. View "Bayer Pharma AG v. Watson Laboratories, Inc." on Justia Law

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Mastermine’s patents disclose methods and systems “that allow[] a user to easily mine and report data maintained by a customer relationship management (CRM) application” and describe a process by which an electronic worksheet is automatically created. Within this electronic worksheet, a multi-dimensional analysis table, known as a pivot table, “allows the user to quickly and easily summarize[] or view large amounts of CRM data.” The patents further describe that a user is able to “analyze the captured CRM data and ‘mine’ the data for important insights” upon generation of the pivot table. In Mastermine’s infringement suit against Microsoft, the district court construed the term “pivot table” to mean “an interactive set of data displayed in rows and columns that can be rotated and filtered to summarize or view the data in different ways” and entered a stipulated judgment of noninfringement and invalidity for indefiniteness. The Federal Circuit reversed and remanded as to indefiniteness. The claims do not improperly claim both an apparatus and a method of using the apparatus. The court found the district court’s claim construction supported by the intrinsic evidence. View "Mastermine Software, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp." on Justia Law

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Merck owns the 150 patent, which is directed to a process for preparing a stable formulation of ertapenem, an antibiotic compound, and claims a manufacturing process for a final formulation of the antibiotic that purportedly minimizes both dimerization and hydrolysis degradation pathways. Hospira notified Merck that it had filed an abbreviated new drug application, seeking FDA approval to engage in the commercial manufacture, use, or sale of generic versions of Merck’s Invanz® product, the principal component of which is the carbon dioxide adduct of ertapenem. Merck sued Hospira for infringement of two patents—the 150 patent and the 323 patent. The Federal Circuit affirmed a holding that certain claims of the 150 patent are invalid under 35 U.S.C. 103, for obviousness. It was reasonable for the district court to deduce from the evidence that the order and detail of the steps, if not already known, would have been discovered by routine experimentation while implementing known principles. View "Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Hospira, Inc." on Justia Law

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Sacramento FBI Agent Parkinson led a group tasked with relocating a previously compromised undercover facility. In 2006, the FBI leased a facility from Rodda, who agreed to contribute $70,000 to construction, documents, permits and fees. Parkinson negotiated the lease for the FBI, and managed the tenant improvement funds. In 2008, during the work, Parkinson made whistleblower-eligible disclosures, implicating pilots in misconduct. Parkinson’s supervisor issued Parkinson a low-performance rating, removed him as group leader, and reassigned him. Believing this to be retaliation, Parkinson contacted Senator Grassley, who forwarded Parkinson’s allegations to the Department of Justice’s Office of the Investigator General (OIG), which OIG sent the FBI its report. The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) upheld Parkinson’s subsequent termination for lack of candor under oath and obstruction of the Office of Professional Responsibility. The Federal Circuit sustained the obstruction charge and dismissal of Parkinson’s affirmative defense of violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, but remanded the lack of candor charge. On rehearing, en banc, the court concluded that 5 U.S.C. 2303 requires all FBI employees to bring claims of whistleblower reprisal to the Attorney General and vacated that portion of its prior opinion. View "Parkinson v. Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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SSI sued the Chicago Transit Authority, alleging infringement of patents covering inventions designed to implement open-payment fare systems in mass transit networks. “An open-payment fare system allows riders to conveniently and quickly access mass transit by using existing bankcards,” such as debit and credit cards, thereby “eliminat[ing] the need for, and added operational cost of, dedicated fare-cards,” paper tickets, and tokens. The district court found the claims patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101, as directed to an abstract idea and otherwise lacking an inventive concept. The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that the asserted claims recite the abstract idea of collecting financial data using generic computer components. View "Smart Systems Innovations, LLC v. Chicago Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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The International Trades Commission instituted a section 337 investigation based on Cisco’s complaint alleging that Arista’s imports of certain network devices, related software, and components thereof infringed six of its patents. An ALJ issued a final initial determination finding a violation with respect to three patents, but no violation based on two other patents, 19 U.S.C. 1337(a)(1)(B)(i). The sixth patent had previously been terminated from the investigation. On review, the Commission upheld those findings and entered a limited exclusion order against imports by Arista of “certain network devices, related software and components thereof.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Commission sufficiently articulated its findings and employed claim construction requiring “router configuration data” to be “stored in said database.” View "Arista Net 2 Works, Inc. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law