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

September 2014 Archives

Navajo Nation Gets $554M Settlement Over Trust Mismanagement

The Court of Federal Claims normally only gets mentioned when its cases are appealed to the Federal Circuit Court. But last week, the Court of Federal Claims was in the news thanks to the largest settlement ever obtained by a single Indian tribe against the U.S. government -- $554 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Adult Diaper Patent Claim Barred by Laches, Not Equitable Estoppel

SCA Hygiene Products (SCA) holds a patent on "adult incontinence products" -- that is, adult diapers. The company sued First Quality Baby Products for infringing on its patent for a disposable diaper that can be taken on and off like underwear -- think Pull-Ups, but for adults.

A Long Waiting Period

Back in 2003, SCA sent a letter to First Quality saying something along the lines of, "Hey, we think one of your products infringes on our patent." First Quality responded by saying, "Hey, actually, it looks like your diaper has the same construction as our diaper, which was patented before yours was. Looks like our patent invalidates yours. Go figure."

VirnetX v. Apple: Patent Infringement Verdict Remanded for Damages

It's been a while since we covered the Federal Circuit, and they have busy little bees indeed, publishing 13 precedential opinions since September 9. Today, we bring you a patent infringement case involving Apple's FaceTime technology.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas -- every patent litigant's favorite venue -- determined that FaceTime infringed on several valid patents held by VirnetX, awarding it a total of $368 million. (VirnetX is considered a patent troll, reported Ars Technica back in June.)

VirnetX purchased patents that allow secure communication links between a computer and a target network address. Apple was alleged to have infringed on this patent through its FaceTime technology, which allows video calls over a secure connection. Part of the technology involves creating a secure VPN tunnel "on demand," something that the plaintiffs had already patented.

Patent Invalidated in 1st Opinion to Invoke Alice v. CLS Bank

Those of us deeply nerded into patent litigation -- and let's face it, if you're reading this now, that's you -- were pleased and surprised when the U.S. Supreme Court decided Alice Corp v. CLS Bank International last term. With Alice, the Court said that taking an obvious, otherwise non-patentable idea and adding "on a computer" to the end of it doesn't suddenly make it patentable. In Alice, that was a calculation of risk in a financial transaction, something Justice Thomas said has been around forever.

Post-Alice, the nerds (you know, you and me) hoped and prayed that the decision signaled the end of "patent trolls" that claimed a right to inventions only because the person filing the patent did little more than take a universal concept and make software out of it. From the Federal Circuit, here comes the first post-Alice appeal to invoke Alice.

Fed. Cir. Finds Navy Commander's Disability Claims Time-Barred

From 1977 to 1996, Commander Judith Cronin was an active-duty Navy officer. Throughout her service, she had several ailments, ranging from heel spurs to PTSD. In 1996, she was placed on a Temporary Disability Retired List (TRDL), and by 2000, she was permanently retired due to her physical condition. Cronin filed suit to challenge this determination.

Over the course of several appeals, the case went back and forth. The question before the Federal Circuit this time was whether Cronin's non-PTSD claims were time-barred. The Federal Circuit, reversing the Court of Federal Claims' decision, said they were.