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

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Shure’s 493 patent relates to arrays of microphones and housings for the arrays so that the arrays and housings may be fitted into a drop ceiling grid. The array is configured, in one embodiment, to “include[] a plurality of microphone transducers selectively positioned in a self-similar or fractal-like configuration, or constellation.” During inter partes review (IPR), Shure added independent claim 57, which recites: A microphone assembly comprising: an array microphone comprising a plurality of microphones arranged in a self-similar configuration. The Patent Board concluded that a skilled artisan would understand “self-similar” to have had a well-known meaning and include the specification’s disclosure of “fractal-like[] configurations or constellations,” which does not create an ambiguity. ClearOne requested rehearing and to file a sanctions motion, arguing Shure violated its duty to disclose material prior art; weeks before the Board's decision, Shure petitioned for post-grant review of the 653 patent, which also relates to drop ceiling microphone arrays, asserting that all claims of the 653 patent would have been obvious over, inter alia, patent publications Levit and Gulbrandsen, which Shure did not disclose in the 493 patent IPR.The Board denied rehearing and did not authorize a sanctions motion, reasoning that Levit and Gulbrandsen were cumulative of references asserted by ClearOne in its IPR petition. The Federal Circuit affirmed, further concluding that the self-similar term is not indefinite, and substantial evidence supports the Board’s subsidiary fact findings based on extrinsic evidence. View "ClearOne, Inc. v. Shure Acquisition Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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. Until 2008, Lehman Brothers, a large investment bank, owned federal trademark registrations for the standard character mark LEHMAN BROTHERS. Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and sold several of its businesses and other assets to Barclays for $1.5 billion, assigning all of its LEHMAN BROTHERS trademarks and accompanying goodwill. Barclays granted Lehman Brothers a worldwide, non-exclusive license to use the LEHMAN BROTHERS trademarks in connection with continuing businesses and operations. The term of the license was two years for use in connection with investment banking and capital markets businesses and perpetual for use in connection with other operations. Barclays allowed its LEHMAN BROTHERS trademark registrations to expire. In 2013, Tiger Lily, which has no affiliation to Lehman Brothers or Barclays, sought registration of the mark LEHMAN BROTHERS for beer and spirits. A few months later, Barclays applied to register LEHMAN BROTHERS for use in connection with financial services. In 2014, Tiger Lily applied for registration of the LEHMAN BROTHERS mark for bar services and restaurant services. Barclays and Tiger Lily filed Notices of Opposition.The Federal Circuit affirmed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in sustaining Barclay’s oppositions against Tiger Lily’s applications and in dismissing Tiger Lily’s opposition to Barclays’ application, noting that Lehman Brothers and Barclays have continued to use the LEHMAN BROTHERS mark since 2008. View "Tiger Lily Ventures Ltd. v. Barclays Capital Inc." on Justia Law

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Arthrex sued S&N, alleging infringement. S&N sought inter partes review (IPR). The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that prior art anticipated several claims. Arthrex challenged the decision on the merits and argued that the Board lacked constitutional authority to issue the final decision because its Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) were not nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, as the Appointments Clause requires for principal officers.The Federal Circuit severed the statutory limitations on the removal of APJs and remanded for rehearing by a new panel. The Supreme Court vacated and remanded, finding that the appropriate remedy was to exempt the Director from 35 U.S.C. 6(c), which precludes anyone but the Board from granting rehearing of a Board decision, and remand to the Acting Director for a decision on whether to rehear the case. The offices of the Director and Deputy Director were vacant. Agency Organization Order 45-1 states, “If both the [Director] and the Deputy [Director] positions are vacant, the Commissioner for Patents . . . will perform the non-exclusive functions and duties of the [Director].” The Commissioner denied rehearing and ordered that the Board’s decision “is the final decision of the agency.”The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the Commissioner violated the Appointments Clause, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, 5 U.S.C. 3345, or the Constitution’s separation of powers in denying Arthrex’s rehearing request. The court agreed that prior art anticipated the challenged claims. View "Smith & Nephew, Inc. v. Arthrex, Inc." on Justia Law

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The second administrative review of an antidumping duty determination for large power transformers imported from the Republic of Korea, 19 U.S.C. 1675(a)(1)(b), was subject to four appeals to the Trade Court, with three remands to the Department of Commerce. The review concerned 19 U.S.C. 1677m(d), which requires Commerce to notify and permit a party to remedy or explain any deficiency in the information provided during an investigation. Commerce asserted that the statute did not apply and did not permit Hyundai to provide additional information relevant to Commerce’s change of methodology concerning normal value and sales price of service-related revenue. Commerce applied an adverse inference and partial facts available to increase the dumping margin.The Federal Circuit remanded for redetermination of the antidumping duty, based on the calculation of service-related revenue. Hyundai has the statutory right to correct the deficiencies that led to the application of adverse inferences and partial facts available. Before making adverse inference, Commerce must examine a respondent’s actions and assess the extent of the respondent’s abilities, efforts, and cooperation in responding to Commerce requests for information. The government does not assert that Hyundai withheld information, or committed any of the transgressions in section 1677e(a)(1) or (2) and relied on incomplete data to determine antidumping duties. View "Hitachi Energy USA, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Kaufman’s now-expired patent describes and claims methods for using a computer to automatically generate an end-user interface for working with the data in a relational database. Kaufman sued Microsoft, asserting infringement by Microsoft’s making and selling of its Dynamic Data product. A jury found Microsoft liable and awarded damages of $7 million. The district court upheld the verdict and denied Kaufman’s motion to amend the judgment to include prejudgment interest. The Federal Circuit affirmed the denial of Microsoft’s post-judgment motions but reversed the denial of prejudgment interest. Microsoft failed to preserve its challenge to claim construction with respect to the phrase “automatically generating,” and failed to establish that the district court erred in its claim construction or that the jury’s verdict was not supported by substantial evidence. View "Kaufman v. Microsoft Corp.," on Justia Law

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In 2009, six-month-old Trystan received vaccines, including DTaP-HepB-IPV. Hours later, Trystan developed a fever and was in pain; he developed a hot lump on his thigh. Trystan’s mother took him to urgent care, where he was diagnosed with a “common cold.” Trystan’s arm contortions continued. At his one-year exam, Trystan could not stand, crawl, grasp, hold his head up while sitting, or attempt to move his lower extremities. Trystan received additional vaccinations. His arm contortions returned. Trystan had muscle spasms, developmental delays, seizures, dystonia, and other neurologic issues. In 2014, Trystan was diagnosed with Leigh’s syndrome, a severe neurological disorder that often presents in the first year of life, is characterized by progressive loss of mental and movement abilities, and typically results in death. Genetic testing showed that Trystan has two associated disease-causing mutations.His parents sought compensation under the Vaccine Act, 42 U.S.C. 300aa–1. The Claims Court upheld determinations that Trystan did not experience neurologic deterioration until many weeks after his 2009 vaccination and that Trystan’s genetic mutations solely caused his Leigh’s syndrome. The Federal Circuit reversed. Because the contortions began within two weeks of his vaccinations, Trystan has shown a logical chain of cause and effect between his vaccination and his neurodegeneration, satisfying his burden. He is entitled to compensation unless the Secretary establishes the injury was due to factors unrelated to the vaccine. There is no evidence that Trystan’s mutations would have resulted in the same progression and severity of his Leigh’s syndrome absent the vaccine. View "T.S. v. Secretary of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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USAA, a reciprocal inter-insurance exchange organized under Texas law with its principal place of business in San Antonio, owns the four patents, which address the use of a mobile device to capture an image of a bank check and transmit it for deposit. Mitek filed suit in the Northern District of California, seeking a declaratory judgment (28 U.S.C. 2201(a)), that Mitek and its customers have not infringed, either directly or indirectly, any valid and enforceable claim of USAA’s patents. USAA moved for dismissal of the complaint, arguing that there was no case or controversy between USAA and Mitek and that the court should exercise discretion not to hear Mitek’s claim. In the alternative, USAA requested the transfer of the action to the Eastern District of Texas under 28 U.S.C. 1404. The California court, without ruling on the dismissal motion, ordered the case transferred to Texas.The Texas court dismissed for want of a case or controversy, stating that, even if jurisdiction existed, it would exercise its discretion to decline to entertain the action. The Federal Circuit vacated the Texas court’s dismissal and remanded, affirming the California court’s transfer order. To make the “case or controversy” determination, the district court’s primary task will be to ascertain the alleged role of the Mitek technology in the banks’ applications and the alleged role that the Mitek technology plays in infringement claims. View "Mitek Systems, Inc. v. United Services Automobile Association" on Justia Law

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The patents relate to software-based architecture for supporting cooperative task completion by flexible, dynamic configurations of autonomous electronic agents. Both patents list Martin and Cheyer as inventors. Google petitioned for inter partes review of various claims, relying primarily on an academic paper entitled “Building Distributed Software Systems with the Open Agent Architecture” to argue that the claims would have been obvious. Google contended that the paper was prior art as work “by others” because it described the work of an inventive entity (Martin, Cheyer, and Moran) differently from the inventive entity of the challenged patents. The Board concluded that Google had not provided sufficient support to explain how Moran’s contribution established him as an inventive entity.The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board failed to resolve fundamental testimonial conflicts in concluding that the relied-upon reference was not prior art. The issue was not the lack of corroboration for Moran’s testimony, but rather whether his testimony should be credited over Cheyer and Martin’s conflicting testimony during the IPR proceedings. View "Google, LLC v. IPA Technologies Inc." on Justia Law

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The Federal Employees’ Retirement System Act provides early retirement benefits to law enforcement officers (LEOs), 5 U.S.C. 8412(d) after obtaining sufficient "LEO credit," which may be awarded for time served in either a primary law enforcement position or secondary (supervisory or administrative) law enforcement position if an employee is “transferred directly” to a secondary position after serving in a primary position. Klipp worked for the TSA, 1991-2009. In a parallel case, Klipp was determined to be entitled to LEO credit for 1991–98, but not for 1998–2008; his 2004–2009 position was not eligible for LEO credit, although it was a secondary position, because there was a break in service between his primary position and his secondary position.Klipp then sought primary LEO credit for his post-2004 position. In 2004, TSA hired Klipp as a Supervisory Criminal Investigator-Assistant Federal Security Director-Law Enforcement (AFSD-LE) for the New Orleans International Airport. The government never hired subordinate officers or investigators for him to supervise. In 2005, Klipp’s position title changed to “nonsupervisory” criminal investigator. Klipp argued that LEO credit can be awarded if the applicant’s actual duties were primarily LEO duties, even if the position description denotes a secondary position. The Merit Systems Protection Board denied Klipp's request for retroactive LEO retirement coverage for 2005-2009. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board did not properly analyze whether 50 percent or more of Klipp’s actual duties were LEO duties under circuit precedent. View "Klipp v. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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Groves served in the Army on active duty, 1970-1971, including service in Vietnam. In 1990, a VA regional office awarded Groves benefits for PTSD, shell fragment wounds, and a nerve injury. In 1998, Groves sought education benefits through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VRE) program. Groves never attended the initial VRE evaluation—due at least in part to the isolated nature of his town and his asserted inability to travel—notwithstanding the VA counseling officer’s attempts to accommodate Groves over a period of years. During the ensuing proceedings, Groves twice sent the VA letters in which he stated that he “enjoin[ed]” further action on the claims.“The Board of Appeals ultimately denied Groves entitlement to VRE benefits, finding that his letters did “not constitute[] withdrawal[s] of the appeal, such that there [was] no basis for the Board to not proceed.” The Veterans Court affirmed, finding that the Board lacked authority to adjudicate Groves’s appeal under “Hamilton,” which required an automatic stay when requested by a veteran but that any error was harmless. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Veterans Court legally erred in finding that the Board was compelled to grant an automatic indefinite stay of proceedings; it should have determined whether Groves had established good cause for a stay and, if so, the appropriate duration and conditions of the stay. View "Groves v. McDonough" on Justia Law