Federal Circuit Twitter Impersonation

October 26th, 2016

From the Federal Circuit web site:

Please be advised that the United States Court of Appeals doesn’t have a Twitter account or any other social media account. We have become aware that a Twitter account was created, impersonating the Federal Circuit. We are actively working with Twitter and the authorities to deactivate the account. If you believe there is an account fraudulently operating as the Federal Circuit , please report the fictitious social media account to the Court by e-mail to chiefdeputyclerk@cafc.uscourts.gov.

Software Patents in New Zealand

October 12th, 2016

I thought this was an interesting article about software patents in New Zealand (yes, you read that correctly) [Link].

Oral argument in Samsung v. Apple

October 11th, 2016

The Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument in Samsung v. Apple today (October 11, 2016).  The transcript of the oral argument is available [here].  The recording of the oral argument will be available this Friday.  Certiorari was granted to address the question:

Where a design patent is applied to only a component of a product, should an award of infringer’s profits be limited to those profits attributable to the component?

Updated 10/15/2016:

The oral argument recording is available [here].

A couple of observations about Apple v. Samsung

October 7th, 2016

It did seem odd that the Federal Circuit didn’t conduct oral argument or further briefing in the Apple v. Samsung en banc decision.  Others have tried to explain away the decision as being unnecessary for the court’s analysis.  The cynic in me thinks that it was to avoid having to recuse any of the majority due to amicus briefing by relatives’ firms.  I believe at least three of the Federal Circuit judges have relatives at firms in position to submit amicus briefs. With three recusals, that would have left the vote 4-3 without Judge Hughes’ tenuous “concurrence in the result without opinion.” I’m not sure why Judge Taranto recused himself.  That would be interesting to know.

A second observation is that by rule, Judge Newman chose the author of the majority opinion.  The internal operating rule at the Federal Circuit states:

2. The presiding judge assigns the authoring responsibility for each case at the end of each day’s sitting or at the end of a session. If the panel is divided, the authoring role is assigned to a member of the majority. If the presiding judge dissents, assignment will be made by the senior active member of the majority.

Because Judge Prost was a dissenter, Judge Newman became the senior active member of the majority.  She must have not wanted to write the majority opinion — as odd as that sounds — and assigned the role to Judge Moore.

Judge Dyk’s Confirmation Hearing

October 7th, 2016

People seem to find it interesting to look back at the confirmation hearings of the Federal Circuit judges.  Judge Dyk’s testimony at his confirmation hearing is listed below.  I edited out most of the answers of the others testifying that day; but, some of their answers were left in for context.  I thought this comment about being a “jobist” was particularly interesting:


Senator Durbin. Thank you for your answers on that. There is one other element that I always like to reflect on, as a former practicing attorney before a lot of judges, and that is the fact that when you are confirmed, and I hope that you all are soon, you will have a lifetime appointment, and that sometimes leads to a great feeling of independence, as it should. That is the nature of the judiciary. And it sometimes leads to a change in temperament, because folks are not really going to be held accountable as elected officials might be.

If you could each address briefly this issue of judicial temperament and give me your idea of what is required of you if you attain this position, I would appreciate it. Judge Scott, if you would start.

Senator DURBIN. Thank you. Mr. Dyk, you kind of started at the top here, according to your resume, your first assignment as a clerk in the U.S. Supreme Court to three Justices, including the Chief Justice, so you have seen judicial temperament at many different levels. What are your thoughts about it when you are confirmed?

Mr. Dyk. Well, that first experience helped humble me. Senator Durbin, and I completely agree with you. I think it is very, very important for a judge to remember that he or she is a civil servant. That is exactly what judges are. They have a job, just like the postman. The postman delivers the mail. Judges decide cases that come before them. I think if you lose sight of that, you really do not belong on the bench. I think it is absolutely essential to be as courteous as possible to everyone, to remember that you have a job to do, to be a jobist, in Justice Holmes’ words, and to do the best you possibly can at all times and to have people who will keep you humble. I am sure my little league team will help with that.



Mr. Dyk. Thank you. Senator. I would like to first thank the committee for giving me a hearing. I appreciate that very much, and just briefly, I would like to say that I regret that my father, Walter Dyk, is not here today. He died a number of years ago and it would have been a privilege to have him. I would like to thank my family and my colleagues from Jones Day and my colleagues for coming here today and I will spare the committee further introductions.


Mr. Dyk, let me start with you, if I could. In a 1994 Federalist Society roundtable discussion entitled, “Do We Have a Conservative Supreme Court,” do you recall making statements about Justice Scalia’s plain meaning approach to interpreting laws as being conservative, but a more expansive analysis as being moderate? In your response, you also stated that, “The notion is that Congress speaks only through the words of the statute and that this is a mechanical approach.” You further explain that, “A Senator or a Congressman is much more likely to read the committee report than 559 the legislation itself, so the committee report could actually be more reliable than the words of the statute.” I wonder if you would be so kind as to elaborate on this response.

Mr. Dyk. Surely, Senator. I do recall the statement, and obviously, as a subordinate Federal judge, I would follow the Supreme Court’s direction to rely on the plain language primarily. I do agree with that completely. At the same time, I think sometimes cases get into a bit of a dueling dictionary, and under those circumstances, I think it is appropriate often to look at the central purpose of the legislation, as the Supreme Court did, for example, this last term in the Moscarello case involving the question of whether carrying a firearm would include carrying a firearm in the vehicle, and after reviewing the dictionaries and press statements, the Court finally concluded that, yes, it did encompass carrying the firearm in the vehicle because the purpose of the statute was to require the criminal to leave his gun at home.

So I do think that statutory purpose and background do have a role to play as to legislative history, but I certainly agree that the primary meaning of the statute is to be gleaned from the plain language that Congress uses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Helsinn v. Teva — Metallizing Engineering “Overruled” by AIA?

October 4th, 2016

The Federal Circuit heard oral argument in Helsinn v. Teva on Tuesday.  Part of the case deals with whether the enactment of the AIA “overruled” Metallizing Engineering by statute.  The panel considering the appeal is comprised of Judges Dyk, O’Malley, and Mayer.  It appears from the CAFC web site that Judge Stoll may have recused herself and that Judge Mayer took her place on the panel.

You can listen to the oral argument here: [Link].

The USPTO’s position is explained in its amicus brief available [here].

Should the Federal Circuit be Reconfigured to Focus on Intellectual Property Issues?

October 3rd, 2016

With the advent of the America Invents Act there has been a growth in appeals from the PTAB to the Federal Circuit. Appeals from the USPTO constituted 24% of the court’s workload in Fiscal Year 2015 — compared to a mere 9% in Fiscal Year 2013!  I believe an unintended consequence of the AIA will be not only a growth in workload from the appeals of post-grant proceedings but also a growth in workload from appeals of the PTAB’s ex parte matters.  As attorneys become more accustomed to appealing PTAB post-grant decisions, it is only natural that those attorneys will be more likely to apply their skills to appeal a much greater number of ex parte matters than the Federal Circuit has been accustomed to.  The growth in workload is already reflected by the apparent increase in Rule 36 Judgments and the growth in the ranks of the USPTO’s Solicitor’s office.

I suppose one way to address this growing workload is to expand the CAFC to include more judges.  But, does it make sense to add more judges to an already large and frequently fractured court?  Would it make more sense to focus the CAFC on intellectual property matters and split off a section of the court as a new court to focus on the other subject areas of the court’s docket?  Obviously, it’s debatable.

If one were to split the court, what would the two divisions look like?  One starting point is to see how the judges break out by technical/non-technical background.  It makes sense to keep the non-senior judges having technical backgrounds or district court judicial experience as the ones adjudicating the IP (primarily patent) appeals.  Such a group would include judges Newman, Lourie, Moore (Chief Judge), O’Malley, Wallach, Taranto, Chen, and Stoll.  The other court would consequently be assigned judges Prost (Chief Judge), Dyk, Reyna, and Hughes.  So far, that ratio (8:4) looks appropriate given that the court’s patent, trademark, and ITC docket in 2015 constituted 63% of the court’s total docket.  I do think Judge Reyna has brought a fresh perspective to the CAFC’s jurisprudence.  It might be worthwhile to swap his expertise with that of Judge Lourie, as a new court would benefit from someone like Judge Lourie with such a great sense of humor.  It would be a tough call, though, because both Judge Reyna and Judge Wallach have immense international trade law experience and would provide considerable value to the new court.   That leaves only a few senior judges to assign.  As a former chief judge, Judge Mayer would provide valuable experience to a new court — plus, he does not seem to be a real fan of oral arguments; so, the new court with its merit cases and limited number of oral arguments would be a good fit for him.  As a former assistant US Solicitor General, Judge Bryson would also be a good fit for the new court.  Judges Plager, Clevenger, and Schall have a wealth of patent law experience; so, it would make sense to include them in the IP group.  Additional positions could be filled on each court by new appointees as workload demands.

At the end of the day, one embodiment of the court split would be the following:

Reconfigured Federal Circuit………………………………. New Court

C.J. Moore                                                                 C.J. Prost

Newman                                                                     Mayer

Plager                                                                          Lourie

Clevenger                                                                    Bryson

Schall                                                                           Dyk

Linn                                                                              Hughes







By pure coincidence, I suspect that this partitioning would have a dramatic effect on reducing the current fractures among the court, e.g., with respect to 35 U.S.C. §101 issues.  Pure coincidence.

Supreme Court Case of the Week: Encino Motorcars v. Navarro

September 24th, 2016

I was recently listening to an oral argument of a Federal Circuit case that was argued in August where one of the parties brought up ENCINO MOTORCARS, LLC v. Navarro, No. 15-415 (U.S. June 20, 2016).  The case was mentioned with reference to an obviousness decision by the PTO and why the PTO, as an administrative agency, must provide an explanation of its decisions — if the PTO fails to provide any analysis, then its action should be deemed arbitrary and capricious under 5 U.S.C. §706(2)(A).  I think the most pertinent part of Encino that would be of interest to patent practitioners would be:

One of the basic procedural requirements of administrative rulemaking is that an agency must give adequate reasons for its decisions. The agency “must examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action including a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made.” Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Assn. of United States, Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co., 463 U. S. 29, 43 (1983) (internal quotation marks omitted). That requirement is satisfied when the agency’s explanation is clear enough that its “path may reasonably be discerned.” Bowman Transp., Inc. v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc., 419 U. S. 281, 286 (1974). But where the agency has failed to provide even that minimal level of analysis, its action is arbitrary and capricious and so cannot carry the force of law. See 5 U. S. C. §706(2)(A); State Farm, supra, at 42–43.

Agencies are free to change their existing policies as long as they provide a reasoned explanation for the change. See, e.g., National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. v. Brand X Internet Services, 545 U. S. 967, 981–982 (2005); Chevron, 467 U. S., at 863–864. When an agency changes its existing position, it “need not always provide a more detailed justification than what would suffice for a new policy created on a blank slate.” FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 556 U. S. 502, 515 (2009). But the agency must at least “display awareness that it is changing position” and “show that there are good reasons for the new policy.” Ibid. (emphasis deleted). In explaining its changed position, an agency must also be cognizant that longstanding policies may have “engendered serious reliance interests that must be taken into account.” Ibid.; see also Smiley v. Citibank (South Dakota), N. A., 517 U. S. 735, 742 (1996). “In such cases it is not that further justification is demanded by the mere fact of policy change; but that a reasoned explanation is needed for disregarding facts and circumstances that underlay or were engendered by the prior policy.” Fox Television Stations, supra, at 515–516. It follows that an “[u]nexplained inconsistency” in agency policy is “a reason for holding an interpretation to be an arbitrary and capricious change from agency practice.” Brand X, supra, at 981. An arbitrary and capricious regulation of this sort is itself unlawful and receives no Chevron deference. See Mead Corp., supra, at 227.

ENCINO MOTORCARS, LLC v. Navarro, No. 15-415 (U.S. June 20, 2016)(slip opinion at pages 9-10)


The entire decision of ENCINO MOTORCARS, LLC v. Navarro, No. 15-415 (U.S. June 20, 2016) is shown below.


No. 15-415.Supreme Court of the United States.

Argued April 20, 2016.Decided June 20, 2016.KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined.

JUSTICE KENNEDY, delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case addresses whether a federal statute requires payment of increased compensation to certain automobile dealership employees for overtime work. The federal statute in question is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U. S. C. § 201 et seq., enacted in 1938 to “protect all covered workers from substandard wages and oppressive working hours.” Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc., 450 U. S. 728, 739 (1981). Among its other provisions, the FLSA requires employers to pay overtime compensation to covered employees who work more than 40 hours in a given week. The rate of overtime pay must be “not less than one and one-half times the regular rate” of the employee’s pay. § 207(a).

Five current and former service advisors brought this suit alleging that the automobile dealership where they were employed was required by the FLSA to pay them overtime wages. The dealership contends that the position and duties of a service advisor bring these employees within § 213(b)(10)(A), which establishes an exemption from the FLSA overtime provisions for certain employees engaged in selling or servicing automobiles. The case turns on the interpretation of this exemption. Read the rest of this entry »

Oral Argument in Mandarin at the Federal Circuit

September 21st, 2016

A pro se appellant recently showed up at the Federal Circuit to present oral argument — the only problem was that he only speaks Mandarin.  I don’t know if there is an official rule; but, generally oral arguments at the Federal Circuit are conducted in English.  As luck* would have it, one of Judge O’Malley’s clerks, Dr. Glenn Cheng, was able to step in and translate for the appellant.

The oral argument is short, approximately five minutes, and is available [here].

The decision is available [here].

*Perhaps “luck” isn’t the best word choice — Mandarin is the world’s most popular language and spoken by 14% of the world’s population.  English comes in a distant third at 5.5%.

Federal Circuit to visit six law schools in LA area

September 19th, 2016
The Federal Circuit has posted more details about its upcoming visit to the LA area to conduct oral arguments.  The information from the Federal Circuit Announcement page (last visited 9/19/2016) is shown below.  This visit is somewhat unique in that the Federal Circuit is not sitting at any federal courthouses during this trip — all the appearances will be at law schools.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 48, six panels of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in Los Angeles on October 4 and 5 and in Orange County on October 6. In accordance with routine practice, the names of the panel judges will not be released prior to the morning of scheduled arguments.

The schedule and location of the panels is as follows:

Tuesday, October 4

Panel A: 10:00 a.m.
USC Gould School of Law
Ackerman Courtroom
699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
(213) 740-7331
http://gould.usc.edu/events/commencement/directions.cfm(link is external)

Panel B: 10:00 a.m.
Pepperdine University School of Law
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
(310) 506-4611
http://law.pepperdine.edu/about/our-campus/maps-directions/(link is external)

Wednesday, October 5

Panel C: 10:00 a.m.
Loyola Law School
The Robinson Courtroom
919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
(213) 736-1000
http://www.lls.edu/aboutus/location/directions/(link is external)

Panel D: 10:00 a.m.
UCLA School of Law
A. Barry Capello Courtroom
385 Charles E. Young Drive E
Los Angeles, CA 90095
(310) 825-4841
http://maps.ucla.edu/campus/?locid=231(link is external)

Thursday, October 6

Panel E: 2:00 p.m.
UC Irvine School of Law
Mark P. Robinson, Jr. Courtroom
401 East Peltason Drive
Irvine, CA 92697
(949) 824-0066
http://www.law.uci.edu/about/directions.html(link is external)

Panel F: 2:00 p.m.
Chapman University Fowler School of Law
Appellate Courtroom
One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
(714) 997-6815
https://chapman.edu/law/about/visiting-school/index.aspx(link is external)