Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Abbas v. United States
In 2015, Abbas sued the federal government, alleging taking of his property rights in certain pre-World War II German bonds that were underwritten and payable in the U.S. After the war, Germany was reluctant to pay off the bonds, some of which were in unauthorized hands. Several post-World War II treaties between the U.S. and Germany established procedures for determining the validity of the bonds and the rights of the holders. It appears that Germany finished paying settling holders of validated German pre-war bonds in 2010. The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal of the claim, finding it barred by the statute of limitations, 28 U.S.C. 2501, which requires that claims brought in the Court of Federal Claims be filed within six years of accrual of the cause of action. Abbas’s claim is that the U.S. caused a regulatory taking of his right to sue Germany for payment of his bonds when the U.S. entered into a 1953 Treaty. View "Abbas v. United States" on Justia Law
In re: Rearden, LLC
MOVA technology can capture an actor’s facial performance for use in motion picture special effects and video games; it is secured by trademarks, copyrights, and patents, and is reflected in hardware, source code, and physical assets. VGHL claims that Perlman, the head of Rearden, declined to acquire the MOVA assets from OL2 and proposed OL2 sell to a Rearden employee, LaSalle. Perlman introduced LaSalle to Rearden’s corporate attorney who helped LaSalle establish his own company, MO2, and negotiated with OL2. Perlman later demanded that LaSalle convey the MOVA assets to Rearden and terminated LaSalle’s employment when LaSalle refused. MO2 sold the MOVA assets to SHST, which hired LaSalle, and began selling the technology. The Rearden parties claimed that SHST never obtained ownership and that LaSalle was simply hired to handle the acquisition on Rearden’s behalf. SHST sued, alleging that Rearden had made “false or misleading representations ... concerning the ownership of the MOVA Assets ... to mislead the public and actual and prospective users and licensees” and had falsely recorded assignments of the MOVA patents. During discovery, SHST moved to compel Rearden to produce documents exchanged between MO2 and Rearden’s corporate attorney. The district court granted the request, concluding that Rearden had not shown entitlement to assert attorney-client privilege on behalf of MO2 and that LaSalle waived privilege when he shared documents. The Federal Circuit denied a petition for mandamus. Rearden's arguments failed to carry the high burden required on mandamus to overturn the court’s discovery determination. View "In re: Rearden, LLC" on Justia Law
Medtronic, Inc. v. Robert Bosch Healthcare Sys., Inc.
Bosch sued Cardiocom, alleging infringement of two patents. Cardiocom petitioned for inter partes review of those patents. The petitions were denied because Cardiocom failed to show a reasonable likelihood that any of the challenged claims was unpatentable. Medtronic (Cardiocom’s parent company) then filed petitions seeking inter partes review of the same patents, listing Medtronic as the sole real party in interest. Bosch argued that Medtronic had failed to name Cardiocom as a real party in interest as required by 35 U.S.C. 312(a)(2). The Patent Board granted additional discovery regarding Cardiocom’s status, then dismissed, “persuaded … that Medtronic [was] acting as a proxy for Cardiocom.” The Board cited evidence that Cardiocom was the defendant in the infringement suits, that Cardiocom had filed its own petitions for inter partes review, that Cardiocom communicated with Medtronic while Medtronic’s petitions were being prepared, and that Cardiocom paid some of the fees for preparing Medtronic’s petitions. In November 2015, the Federal Circuit dismissed Medtronic’s appeals for lack of jurisdiction and denied mandamus relief, but later recalled the mandate, following the Supreme Court’s 2016 Cuozzo decision. The court subsequently reaffirmed. The Board’s vacatur of its institution decisions and termination of the proceedings constitute decisions whether to institute inter partes review and are “final and nonappealable” under section 314(d). Nothing in Cuozzo is to the contrary. View "Medtronic, Inc. v. Robert Bosch Healthcare Sys., Inc." on Justia Law
Aldridge v. McDonald
Aldridge served on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, 1984-1992, and was denied a disability rating higher than 10% for patellofemoral syndrome on his knees in 2013. The Board of Veterans Appeals informed Aldridge that he had 120 days to file a notice of appeal with the Veterans Court, 38 U.S.C. 7266(a), by April 23, 2014. The Veterans Court received his notice on October 27, 2014. Aldridge acknowledged that his appeal was late, but argued that deaths in his family and his resulting depressive state prevented him from timely filing. His mother died on September 27, 2013; his daughter gave birth to a stillborn child on December 16; and his sister died on January 14, 2014. He asked the court to apply the doctrine of equitable tolling. The court determined that Aldridge had failed to demonstrate that his family’s losses “themselves directly or indirectly affected the timely filing of his appeal,” noting that Aldridge closed the estates of his deceased mother and sister, became his father’s primary caregiver, maintained his job at a Veterans Affairs hospital, and attempted to hire a lawyer during the time at issue. The Federal Circuit affirmed, upholding the Veterans Court’s application of a legal standard that required proof of causation. View "Aldridge v. McDonald" on Justia Law
Asia Vital Components Co. v. Asetek Danmark A/S
AVC manufactures cooling systems for integrated circuits. Asetek’s patents are directed toward liquid computer cooling systems to cool integrated circuits. Asetek brought infringement lawsuits against other competitors and sent a letter accusing AVC of infringement, based on Asetek’s mistaken belief that AVC manufactured Liqmax 120s. AVC responded that it did not manufacture Liqmax 120s, but requested a meeting. Asetek responded that if AVC was not making Liqmax 120s there was no reason to meet; that it had unsuccessfully tried to cooperate with AVC previously; and that it does not license its patents. The letter stated, “Please be advised that Asetek believes that AVC is likely selling other infringing products” and that Asetek enforces its IP. A meeting ultimately occurred ; Asetek offered AVC a license at a royalty rate of 16%. AVC then filed suit alleging that AVC had designed and built certain liquid cooling products and seeking a declaration that its products did not infringe the Asetek patents and that those patents are invalid. Accepting Asetek’s assertion that it did not know that those products existed before AVC’s complaint, the district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit reversed. AVC alleged sufficient facts that, “under all the circumstances, show that there is a substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.” View "Asia Vital Components Co. v. Asetek Danmark A/S" on Justia Law
Murata Mach. USA, Inc. v. Daifuku Co., Ltd.
Murata and Daifuku manufacture and maintain automated material handling systems that use robotic vehicles suspended in semiconductor cleanrooms to move and manipulate semiconductor components. Murata sued Daifuku, alleging infringement. Daifuku petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeals Board for inter partes review of three patents and moved to stay the litigation pending the outcome, citing the traditional three-factor test, considering: stage of the proceedings; potential for the stay to simplify; and undue prejudice to the non-moving party or a clear tactical advantage for the moving party. Murata asked that the court consider a fourth factor: potential for a stay to reduce the burden of litigation on the parties and the court. The court, relying on four factors, stayed the case, but granted leave for Murata to amend its complaint to add two Additional Patents. Murata amended, moved to lift the stay with regard to the Additional Patents, and sought a preliminary injunction. Again applying the four factors, the court declined to lift the stay, then stated that “[b]ecause the court has now declined to lift the stay, the Motion for Preliminary Injunction is denied without prejudice to renew at a later date, if appropriate.” The Federal Circuit upheld refusal to lift the stay, but found that the “cursory denial” did not satisfy FRCP 52(a)(2), which requires that a court state findings and conclusions supporting denial of a preliminary injunction. View "Murata Mach. USA, Inc. v. Daifuku Co., Ltd." on Justia Law
Polar Electro Oy v. Suunto Oy
Polar, a Finnish company based in Finland, owns U.S. patents directed to a method and apparatus for measuring heart rates during physical exercise. Polar sued, alleging infringement directly and indirectly, through the manufacture, use, sale, and importation of Suunto products. Suunto is a Finnish company with a principal place of business and manufacturing facilities in Finland. Suunto and ASWO (a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in Utah) are owned by the same parent company. ASWO distributes Suunto’s products in the U.S. Suunto ships the accused products to addresses specified by ASWO. ASWO pays for shipping; title passes to ASWO at Suunto’s shipping dock in Finland. At least 94 accused products have been shipped from Finland to Delaware retailers using that standard ordering process. At least three Delaware retail stores sell the products. Suunto also owns, but ASWO maintains, a website, where customers can locate Delaware Suunto retailers or order Suunto products. At least eight online sales have been made in Delaware. The Federal Circuit vacated dismissal of Suunto for lack of personal jurisdiction. Suunto’s activities demonstrated its intent to serve the Delaware market specifically; the accused products have been sold in Delaware. Suunto had purposeful minimum contacts, so that Delaware’s “assertion of personal jurisdiction is reasonable and fair” and proper under the Delaware long-arm statute. View "Polar Electro Oy v. Suunto Oy" on Justia Law
Hutchison Quality Furniture, Inc. v. United States
In 2007, Hutchison imported furniture from China through Orient International. The Commerce Department assigned Orient an antidumping duty margin of 216.01%. The Court of International Trade (CIT) entered an injunction and directed that the entries be liquidated “in accordance with the final court decision ... including all appeals.” In February 2013, CIT sustained Commerce’s remand redetermination, including a rate of 83.55%. Orient did not appeal; in June CIT ordered that Orient’s entries be liquidated in accordance with the February Final Judgment. In September, Customs liquidated the entries at 83.55%. Hutchison filed an unsuccessful protest with Customs under 19 U.S.C. 1514. In October 2014, Hutchison sought review under 28 U.S.C. 1581(i)(4), asserting that the entries should have been deemed liquidated at 7.24%, citing 19 U.S.C. 1504(d): “[w]hen a suspension required by statute or court order is removed, [Customs] shall liquidate the entry . . . within [six] months after receiving notice of the removal,” and, if the entry is not so liquidated, it shall be deemed "liquidated at the rate of duty, value, quantity, and amount of duty asserted by the importer” at the time of entry. Hutchison argued that Commerce’s liquidation instructions misidentified the date on which suspension of liquidation was lifted and that the suspension expired with the Final Judgment. CIT dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, stating that the “claim involves a protestable [Customs] decision,” which Hutchison could have appealed under 28 U.S.C. 1581(a) if its protest was denied. The Federal Circuit affirmed; regardless of whether the Final Judgment constituted a final court decision or constituted notice to Customs, starting the six-month period in 1504(d), a party may not invoke jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(i) when jurisdiction under another subsection could have been invoked. View "Hutchison Quality Furniture, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
In re: Arunachalam
Dr. Arunachalam owns the 178 patent, which has been undergoing reexamination since November 2008. In 2014, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board affirmed the rejection of claims 9– 16, but designated a new ground of rejection for claim 16. Arunachalam elected to reopen prosecution of the claims, after which the examiner issued a final rejection in June 2015. Rather than appeal the examiner’s final rejection to the Board, Arunachalam appealed to the Federal Circuit, which dismissed for lack of jurisdiction to hear a non-final appeal from the Patent Office. A patent owner dissatisfied with an examiner’s rejection of a claim in reexamination may proceed with a two-step appeals process. First, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 134(b) (2002), a patent owner in any reexamination proceeding may appeal from the final rejection of any claim by the primary examiner to the Board. If the patent owner is dissatisfied with the Board’s final decision, the patent owner may appeal the decision to the Federal Circuit, 35 U.S.C. 141. View "In re: Arunachalam" on Justia Law
Diamond Coating Techs., LLC v. Hyundai Motor Am.
Diamond sued the auto companies, alleging infringement of its patents. The district court dismissed the actions finding that agreements between Diamond and Sanyo, the original assignee of the patents-in-suit, did not confer patentee status on Diamond, allowing Diamond to sue without joining Sanyo. The court later held that nunc pro tunc agreements executed by Diamond and Sanyo after its decision in Diamond did not affect its determination. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The original agreements did not convey all of the substantial rights in the patents to Diamond. Precedent bars consideration of the subsequent agreements. View "Diamond Coating Techs., LLC v. Hyundai Motor Am." on Justia Law