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

April 2014 Archives

If all of the litigation surrounding smartphone and touch-screen patents between Apple, Samsung and Motorola (ahem, Google) are all starting to blend together into one giant blob in your mind, you are not alone.

Last Friday, the Federal Circuit issued an opinion in the Apple v. Motorola case, which is now affecting a current trial between Apple and Samsung in federal court in California.

The Federal Circuit recently had the chance to hear an appeal involving antitrust issues. When we saw that, our ears perked up, as we can only take so much patent and veterans' appeals (sorry). How exactly did the Federal Circuit have jurisdiction to hear the appeal anyway?

The initial claims involved an allegation of patent infringement. Though the parties stipulated to the dismissal of the patent infringement claim, because the district court entered final judgment and dismissed the claim with prejudice, the Federal Circuit retained jurisdiction.

Now, let's get to the heart of the matter.

Less than a month ago the Supreme Court granted cert in Teva v. Sandoz, a case where the Court must determine the proper standard of review when reviewing a patent inventor's claim. While most other federal appeals courts review a trial court's conclusions to see if they are "clearly erroneous," the Federal Circuit has had a practice of reviewing an inventor's claims using de novo review, reports SCOTUSblog.

The Court is no longer accepting cases for this term, so Teva is on the October 2014 docket. Because there are patents at issue that may expire before the Court decides the case, there is uncertainty as to what the companies should do, and they are seeking guidance from the Court.

Attention attorneys practicing in the Federal Circuit: mark your calendars. There are two events coming up in May and June, and registration is now open for both of them.

The Federal Circuit has announced that it will be hosting the 2014 Federal Practice Summit, and the Federal Circuit Bar Association has announced the 16th Annual Bench & Bar Conference.

Read on to learn more about both events, and to find out how to register.

You may remember back on 2008 when George W. Bush released a statement of the Government's intention to assist automakers in the midst of the economic downturn. As a result of the government assistance, two groups of former General Motors Corporation ("GM") and Chrysler LLC ("Chrysler") car dealers, whose franchises were terminated as a result of the bankruptcies, sued the Government alleging regulatory takings.

The Government's Financial Assistance

The franchise dealers have state and federal laws to protect them from terminations that are not available to them in bankruptcy proceedings. In reviewing GM and Chrysler's viability proposals, the Government specifically noted that the dealer terminations were not happening fast enough to maintain viability, and suggested bankruptcy, which the companies accepted.

MacLean Files Opposition to Cert. in DHS Whistleblower Case

The Transportation Security Administration learns about a credible hijacking plot. It then pulls air marshals off of certain long-distance flights because of a budget shortfall. This was, in a word, stupid.

Robert MacLean was one of those air marshals. After going to his supervisors and other proper channels, and after he was rebuked with warnings about his career, he anonymously tipped off the press. He was later fired.

We've covered his case extensively, from the Federal Circuit's opinion in his favor, holding that the Whistleblower Protection Act applied to his case, to that court's denial of banc rehearing.

In January, the Department of Homeland Security submitted its petition for certiorari, arguing that applicable security regulations prohibited MacLean's disclosures and that the Federal Circuit's opinion "effectively permits individual federal employees to override the TSA's judgments about the dangers of public disclosure."

What was MacLean's response? Let's take a look at his Brief in Opposition:

The third time is the charm. After being distributed for three judicial conferences, the Supreme Court granted Teva Pharmaceutical's petition for writ of certiorari on Monday.

The Stakes Are High

The Teva case is a patent dispute surrounding the multiple-sclerosis drug Copaxone. Teva Pharmaceuticals holds the patents for Copaxone, and a decision in its favor would keep the patents alive until September 2015. Generic manufacturers want to release their generic drug in May -- which technically they could, under the Federal Circuit's decision. Annual U.S. sales of Copaxone make up more than half of Teva's profit, and reach over $3 billion annually, so there is much at stake for both Teva, and generic manufacturers, reports Blooomberg.