Featured / Opinions

The Federal Circuit issued four opinions today. It issued precedential opinions in a patent case and a veterans case, and nonprecedential opinions in another veterans case and a personnel case.

Notably, the patent case is TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, a case we have been watching because it attracted a significant number of amicus briefs, as discussed previously on this blog. In short, in that case the Federal Circuit agreed with Ericsson that the district court should have held a jury trial on the appropriate “release payment” owed Ericsson for a license to Ericsson’s portfolio of standard-essential patents. By resolving the case in this manner, the court found no need to address the various issues raised in the amicus briefs about the proper calculation of payments for licenses to standard-essential patents.

Here are the introductions to the opinions.

TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd. v. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Precedential)

This appeal arises from a March 9, 2018 decision and order issued by the United States District Court for the Central District of California (the court) imposing “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) rates in a binding worldwide license on Appellants (Ericsson) and Appellees (TCL) for Ericsson’s portfolio of standard-essential patents (SEPs) incorporated into 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile communications standards.

The court-ordered license set forth two terms relevant on appeal: (1) a prospective FRAND royalty rate for practicing each standard, and (2) a “release payment” computed based on a closely related, retrospective FRAND rate for “TCL’s past unlicensed sales.” To determine these rates, the court conducted a ten-day bench trial, where the two parties proposed different FRAND rates based on different methodologies. Rejecting both parties’ proposed methodologies as flawed, the court employed its own modified version of TCL’s proposed “top-down” approach in combination with comparable license evidence to compute both the prospective and retrospective FRAND rates.

The threshold issue on appeal is whether Ericsson had a Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial on the adjudication of the “release payment” term. This inquiry turns on whether the relief sought by the release payment is either legal or equitable in nature. Because we conclude that the release payment is in substance compensatory relief for TCL’s past patent infringing activity, we hold that Ericsson was entitled to a jury trial on the calculation of the release payment amount, and that the district court deprived Ericsson of that right by determining that legal relief in a bench trial. For the reasons explained below, we vacatein-part, reverse-in-part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Procopio v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Precedential)

Alfred Procopio, Jr., Johnnie Harper, Michael Yates, Michael Kvintus, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association, Inc., and Military-Veterans Advocacy, Inc. (collectively, Petitioners) filed a petition for expedited review pursuant to 38 U.S.C. § 502 challenging the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to stay pending disability compensation claims until January 1, 2020. We have jurisdiction to decide the present petition under 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(1)(D) because the Secretary’s memorandum amounts to an “interpretation[] of general applicability formulated and adopted by the agency.” See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(1)(D). Because the Secretary had the authority, pursuant to Section 2(c)(3) of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 (Pub. L. No. 116-23, 133 Stat. 966, 968 (2019)) (the Act), to stay pending disability compensation claims from the date of the Act’s enactment, June 25, 2019, until its effective date, January 1, 2020, we deny the petition for review.

Dillard v. Office of Personnel Management (Nonprecedential)

Petitioner Michelle Dillard seeks review of a final decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board (“MSBP”), which affirmed the Office of Personnel Management’s (“OPM”) determination that she had “received an overpayment of $10,434.62” from her Civil Service Retirement System (“CSRS”) retirement annuity. See Dillard v. Office of Pers. Mgmt., No. AT-831M-19-0266-I-1, 2019 WL 2176482 (M.S.P.B. May 13, 2019) (R.A. 4–11); R.A. 4. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(9) (2012). We affirm.

Davis v. Wilkie (Nonprecedential)

Jack Davis appeals from a decision of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“Veterans Court”). The Veterans Court affirmed a decision of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (“Board”) that Mr. Davis is not entitled to effective dates earlier than February 25, 2010, for his diabetes and secondary erectile dysfunction claims and August 31, 2010, for his coronary artery disease claim. We affirm.

Rule 36 Judgments

The court also issued a summary affirmance under Rule 36 in Smart Meter Technologies, Inc. v. Itron, Inc.