Federal Circuit

Federal Circuit - The FindLaw Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog


If you've gotten a paternity test or fetal DNA test in the last twenty years, you have probably benefited from the discovery of cell-free fetal DNA, or cffDNA. This DNA is non-cellular bits of DNA floating freely in the blood stream of a pregnant woman, which can be extracted from maternal plasma and serum and tested for paternity and other genetic information.

After cffDNA was discovered, a method of detecting and interpreting it was commercialized by Sequenom and patented by Drs. Dennis Lo and James Wainscoat. Paternity and genetic tests based on cffDNA are significantly less invasive than other forms of testing. Unfortunately for Sequenom, however, those methods are also unpatentable, the Federal Circuit ruled last week.

The Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act's petition support requirement does not violate due process, the Federal Circuit ruled recently. That Act, also known as the Byrd Amendment, though in effect only briefly, allowed for the collection and distribution of duties on imported goods found to have been dumped into the U.S. market by foreign producers. Only domestic producers who supported the petition are allowed to receive the collected funds.

That petition support requirement, however, effected support decisions that were made before the law was passed. Thus, producers who did not support a petition were stopped from receiving antidumping duties, even though they had no prior warning that this would be the case. That was a reasonable requirement, the court found, one which rewarded producers for the support of the law.

A Vaccine Injury Case Succeeds at the Federal Circuit

Vaccines are overwhelmingly safe, but in a few very rare instances, they can have unintended side effects. The National Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 provides a federal cause of action for parents whose children have been injured by vaccines.

The Paluck family sued the Secretary of Health and Human Services for compensation over a claim that an MMR vaccine caused infant K.P. to lapse into a "severe neurological disability." After the case bounced around the court system for a bit, the Court of Federal Claims vacated a special master's determination that K.P.'s deterioration wasn't caused by the vaccination. The Federal Circuit affirmed.

Apple Verdict Against Samsung Mostly Upheld by Fed. Cir.

Back in 2012, a federal jury awarded Apple a staggering one billion dollars after finding that rival smartphone maker Samsung infringed Apple's design and utility patents, as well as Apple's trade dress.

Samsung appealed to the Federal Circuit, which yesterday handed Samsung a mixed bag. Everything but the trade dress claims could stand, the court said, setting the stage for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fed. Cir. Invalidates Live TV Patent for Indefiniteness

In September 1997, the patent office issued Patent No. 5,663,757, which allows software to add interactive elements to a live television broadcast; for example, by allowing "impulse purchase transactions with immediate payment." So, basically, you can buy what you see on TV.

In 1997, there was no such thing as a smartphone. But the current holder of that patent, EON Corp. IP Holdings, claimed that watching live TV on a smartphone is the "modern iteration of that patent." And so, they sued AT&T, Sprint, Qualcomm, and so on.

Fed. Cir. Will Rehear Lexmark Ink Cartridge Case En Banc

Well, that's interesting. Yesterday, the Federal Circuit sua sponte ordered an en banc hearing in Lexmark International v. Impression Products, Inc. A three-judge panel just heard oral arguments on March 6, but that apparently wasn't sufficient for the Federal Circuit.

According to the order, the parties must resubmit new briefs and address the applicability of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons and patent exhaustion in the face of a single-use-and-return restriction. This case is actually pretty huge.

Sharon Prost joined the Federal Circuit in 2001 and began service as Chief Judge when Judge Randall Rader stepped down as Chief in 2014. Some of Prost's most important opinions involve smart phone patent infringement litigation, including her dissent in Apple v. Motorola.

Prost also is one of the few circuit court judges who is more famous as a litigant than judge. After working for years in the federal government and putting herself through school at nights, an early '90s custody battle made her famous as a working mother being penalized for trying to balance home life and career.

Fed. Cir. Affirms, Reverses Claims in MobileMedia Suit Against Apple

Another day, another patent infringement suit with Apple on the other side of the "v." This time, the plaintiff is a patent licensing company, but slightly different than what we typically see from those kinds of entities.

MobileMedia is a patent licensing company formed by MPEG LA, Nokia, and Sony -- in other words, not one-off companies that make all their money from patent settlements. MobileMedia claimed that Apple's iPhone infringed on 16 of its patents. A jury found that Apple did infringe, but following a renewed motion for JMOL, the district court reversed some parts of the verdict.

Air Force General Loses Appeal for Retroactive Promotion

Eight days after the New Year and we finally have the Federal Circuit's first precedential opinion of 2015. Patents? Trademarks? Tariffs? You wish!

Instead, Schwalier v. Hagel is about a promotion that never came to pass. Air Force Brigadier General Terryl Schwalier was nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate to the rank of major general. He was supposed to be appointed in 1997, but the appointment got delayed and President Clinton decided not to appoint him after all.

Schwalier tried to use the defense of "no backsies" to claim that he had been appointed, but the Federal Circuit didn't think so.

Year in Review 2014: The 10 Most Popular Federal Cir. Blog Posts

This circuit. This glorious Federal Circuit, with its unique, specialized jurisdiction over a few niche areas of law. Typically, this circuit's run-of-the-mill patent decisions are a bit dry.

But 2014 was different. This past year brought a whole lot of Supreme Court intervention, a scandal that led to a resignation and reprimand, and a new chief judge. In other words: juicy blog material.

Here's what you found most interesting, judging by traffic numbers: