Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
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In 2011, K.G., age 48, received an influenza vaccination in advance of knee replacement surgery. Over the next several months, she experienced increasingly severe nerve pain in her hands, arms, feet, and legs; she succumbed to alcoholism, spent months in the hospital, and developed amnesia. In 2014, an Iowa state court declared K.G. incapable of caring for herself and, against K.G.’s will, appointed K.G.’s sister as her guardian. K.G. regained her mental faculties by May 2016. She then retained an attorney who filed her claim under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, 42 U.S.C. 300aa-1. A Special Master held that equitable tolling was not available during the period that K.G.’s sister acted as K.G.’s guardian and dismissed K.G.’s claim as not timely filed within the three-year statute of limitations. The Federal Circuit vacated. Equitable tolling is available in Vaccine Act cases and the appointment of a legal guardian is only one factor a court should consider when deciding whether equitable tolling is appropriate in a particular case. K.G. was not required to argue the legally irrelevant question of whether she personally was diligent while she was mentally competent and she preserved her argument that her legal representative exercised reasonable diligence under the circumstances. The Special Master erred in adopting a per se rule. View "K.G. v. Secretary of Health and Human Services" on Justia Law

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Fourstar, a federal prisoner, filed a Tucker Act Complaint with a Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. He claimed that the government is mismanaging certain Indian properties and resources. The Claims Court denied his motion to proceed in forma pauperis, citing 28 U.S.C. 1915(g), which provides: In no event shall a prisoner bring a civil action or appeal ... under this section if the prisoner has, on 3 or more prior occasions, while incarcerated or detained in any facility, brought an action or appeal in a court of the United States that was dismissed on the grounds that it is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, unless the prisoner is under imminent danger of serious physical injury,” Prison Litigation Reform Act, 110 Stat. 1321. Fourstar did not pay the filing fee. The court dismissed his complaint. Fourstar was released from prison and later filed a Notice of Appeal. He later filed a statement that he was subsequently arrested and detained and unsuccessfully moved to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal. Because Fourstar was not a prisoner at the time of filing his appeal, section 1915 is not applicable. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the three-strikes rule was met by Fourstar’s litigation history and that Fourstar was not subject to the “imminent danger” exception. View "Fourstar v. United States" on Justia Law

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Serta filed a patent infringement action against Casper, citing the 173, 763, and 935 patents. Those patents cover mattresses that include a channel and methods for forming it. These mattresses can have varying areas of firmness by inserting reinforcement of various types into their channels that can be located at regions where additional support is desired. Casper filed three motions for summary judgment directed to non-infringement of Casper’s accused mattresses, accused methods of manufacturing, and redesigned mattresses. While Casper’s summary judgment motions were pending, the parties executed a settlement agreement and advised the district court of the settlement. The district court nevertheless granted Casper’s summary judgment motions of non-infringement. It later denied Serta’s motions to vacate the summary judgment order and to enforce the settlement agreement. The Federal Circuit vacated and remanded with instructions to enforce the settlement agreement. There is no contention that the settlement or the relief sought by Serta is unlawful or contrary to public policy. There is also no dispute that the parties executed the agreement before the district court issued the summary judgment order; Casper has admitted that the agreement was binding. The settlement agreement mooted the case even though it included terms that required future performance. View "Serta Simmons Bedding, LLC v. Casper Sleep Inc." on Justia Law

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SIT sued Google for patent infringement in the Eastern District of Texas. Under 28 U.S.C. 1400(b), “[a]ny civil action for patent infringement may be brought in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” Under Supreme Court precedent, “a domestic corporation ‘resides’ only in its state of incorporation for purposes of the patent venue statute; the Federal Circuit has held that a “regular and established place of business” must be: “a physical place in the district”; “regular and established”; and “the place of the defendant.” Google provides video and advertising services to residents of the Eastern District of Texas through the Internet. Google Global Cache (GGC) servers function as local caches for Google’s data. Google contracts with internet service providers within the district to host Google’s GGC servers. The GGC servers cache only a small portion of content that is popular with nearby users but can serve that content with shorter wait times than Google’s central server infrastructure due to their physical proximity to the ISP’s users. No Google employee installed, performed maintenance on, or physically accessed any of the GGC servers. The district court denied Google’s motion to dismiss. The Federal Circuit ordered that the case be dismissed or transferred. A “regular and established place of business” requires the regular, physical presence of an employee or other agent of the defendant conducting the defendant’s business at the alleged “place of business.” View "In Re: Google LLC" on Justia Law

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Audio’s patent describes a system for organizing audio files, by subject matter, into “program segments.” ’The system arranges the segments through a “session schedule” and allows a user to navigate through the schedule in various ways. Audio sued CBS, alleging infringement. Later that year, a third party sought inter partes review (IPR) of the patent under 35 U.S.C. 311–319. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board instituted review but the district court case proceeded to trial, with the issues limited to infringement and invalidity of claims 31–34. A jury found that CBS had infringed claims 31–34 and failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that those claims were invalid. The jury awarded Audio $1,300,000. The Board issued a final written decision in the IPR, concluding that claims 31–35 are unpatentable. The district court stayed entry of its judgment until completion of direct review of the Board’s decision. The Federal Circuit affirmed the Board’s decision. The district court then entered a judgment in favor of CBS. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Audio’s argument that the courts lacked jurisdiction. To the extent that Audio challenged the district court’s determination of the consequences of the affirmed final written decision for the proper disposition of this case, Audio conceded that governing precedent required judgment for CBS. View "Personal Audio, LLC v. CBS Corp." on Justia Law

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The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provides “duty-free treatment” for “eligible article[s] from . . . beneficiary developing countr[ies],” 19 U.S.C. 2461 (2012), including India. Congressional authorization for the GSP expired on July 31, 2013, and was not renewed until June 29, 2015. For GSP-eligible entries made during the lapse, Congress provided for “retroactive application” (a refund of duties paid), if the importer filed a request with Customs “not later than” December 28, 2015. Industrial made 65 entries of organic chemicals from India between August 2013 and October 2014. The entries were liquidated between June 2014 and September 2015. Industrial did not submit its request for retroactive GSP treatment until February 2, 2016. U.S. Customs and Border Protection denied the request. Industrial filed a Protest, which was denied as untimely under 19 U.S.C. 1514 because it had been filed more than 180 days after the liquidation of its entries. The Court of International Trade dismissed Industrial’s complaint. The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Trade Court lacked jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1581(a) because the Protest was invalid. The court further noted that Customs did not have the discretion to exempt Industrial Chemicals from the deadline set by Congress. View "Industrial Chemicals, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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In “Arthrex,” the Federal Circuit concluded that the appointments of Administrative Patent Judges (APJs) violated the Appointments Clause and vacated a decision made by a panel of APJs. Customedia sought to assert the same challenge. The Federal Circuit denied a motion to vacate, finding that Customedia forfeited its Appointments Clause challenge. Arguments not raised in the opening brief are waived. Appointments Clause challenges are not jurisdictional and must be properly raised on appeal. Customedia did not raise any semblance of an Appointments Clause challenge in its opening brief or raise this challenge in a motion filed prior to its opening brief. View "Customedia Technologies,, LLC v. Dish Network Corp." on Justia Law

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Inspired Development sued KidsEmbrace for breach of contract and other related state law claims in federal district court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1332(a). The dispute involved the purported breach of a patent-licensing agreement by failure to pay outstanding royalties. The district court granted summary judgment in KidsEmbrace’s favor on certain claims. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit discovered that diversity jurisdiction did not exist. The district court concluded on remand that it retained jurisdiction over the suit based on federal question jurisdiction. The Eleventh Circuit transferred the case to the Federal Circuit, which vacated and remanded for dismissal. The parties’ claims did not arise under the patent laws pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1338(a). No claims allege a cause of action created by federal patent law. This is a state law contract case for past due royalties. Inspired Development need not demonstrate that KidsEmbrace actually practiced the licensed patents, and the question of infringement is not a “necessary element” of the claim. Finding a federal question here merely because this contract implicates a run-of-the-mill question of infringement or validity would undoubtedly impact the wider balance between state and federal courts. View "Inspired Development Group v. Inspired Products Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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University of Texas System (UT) sued BSC for patent infringement in the Western District of Texas. The patents resulted from research conducted at UT and are directed to implantable drug-releasing biodegradable fibers. BSC is a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in Massachusetts. BSC does not own or lease any property or maintain a business address in the Western District of Texas but has 46 employees in the District; all maintain home offices and do not work in spaces that are owned or controlled by BSC. UT asserted that venue was proper because UT has sovereign immunity. The district court transferred the case to the District of Delaware. The Federal Circuit affirmed, first holding that it had jurisdiction to hear the appeal under the collateral order doctrine. State sovereignty principles do not grant UT the right to bring suit in an otherwise improper venue; 28 U.S.C. 1400(b) is the sole and exclusive provision controlling venue in patent infringement actions and venue is proper where a defendant resides or has a regular and established place of business. Sovereign immunity is a shield, not a sword. There was no claim or counterclaim against UT that placed it in the position of a defendant. View "Board of Regents of the University of Texas System v. Boston Scientific Corp." on Justia Law

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The University, an agent or instrumentality of the Swiss Confederation, having a place of business in Bern, Switzerland, granted an exclusive license of its 114 patent to the German company LABOKLIN, whose principal place of business is in Bad Kissingen, Germany. Under the License Agreement, LABOKLIN was required to commercialize the invention in North America. LABOKLIN entered into sublicenses in the U.S. PPG, a corporation headquartered in Washington State, offers laboratory services. After obtaining the University’s consent, LABOKLIN sent a cease-and-desist letter to PPG in Spokane, Washington. PPG sued LABOKLIN and the University, requesting a declaratory judgment that the Asserted Claims of the 114 patent are ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 for failing to claim patent-eligible subject matter. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the district court had jurisdiction over both LABOKLIN and the University. LABOKLIN had sufficient minimum contacts with the U.S. to comport with due process; the University, a foreign sovereign in the U.S., had engaged in “commercial activity” sufficient to trigger an exception to jurisdictional immunity under 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(2) by “obtain[ing] a patent and then threaten[ing] PPG by proxy with litigation.” PPG had stipulated to infringement of the Asserted Claims; the courts found those Claims patent-ineligible as directed to patent-ineligible subject matter, namely the discovery of the genetic mutation that is linked to HNPK. View "Genetic Veterinary Sciences, Inc. v. LABOKLIN GMBH & Co. KG" on Justia Law