This morning the Federal Circuit issued two nonprecedential opinions in patent cases, a nonprecedential order granting a petition for a writ of mandamus related to a motion to transfer, and another nonprecedential order denying petitions for writs of mandamus also related to motions to transfer. Here are the introductions to the opinions and text from the orders.
Fall Line Patents, LLC v. Unified Patents, LLC (Nonprecedential)
“In this Circuit, a later panel is bound by the determinations of a prior panel, unless relieved of that obligation by an en banc order of the court or a decision of the Supreme Court.” Deckers Corp. v. United States, 752 F.3d 949, 959 (Fed. Cir. 2014). Of course, we should not follow our precedent blindly. See Ramos v. Louisiana, 140 S. Ct. 1390, 1405 (2020) (“[S]tare decisis has never been treated as ‘an inexorable command.’”). “Indeed, we have said that it is the province and obligation of the en banc court to review the current validity of challenged prior decisions.” Lighting Ballast Control LLC v. Philips Elecs. N. Am. Corp., 744 F.3d 1272, 1298 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (en banc) (O’Malley, J., dissenting) (internal quotations marks omitted). But we do not overturn our decisions lightly, particularly those that we so recently issued. We recognize that “today’s legal issues are often not so different from the questions of yesterday and that we are not the first ones to try to answer them.” June Med. Servs., LLC v. Russo, 140 S. Ct. 2103, 2134 (2020) (Roberts, C.J., concurring).
Appellant Fall Line Patents, LLC (“Fall Line”) asks us to ignore the constraints of our precedent with respect to two separate issues. It maintains that we have mandamus jurisdiction over the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s (“the Board”) real party-in-interest determinations, notwithstanding our recent holding in ESIP Series 2, LLC v. Puzhen Life USA, LLC, 958 F.3d 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2020) that § 314(d) precludes appellate review over this institution-based requirement. See Appellant Supp. Br. 1–4. And it contends that this panel has the authority to modify the constitutional fix adopted by this court in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., 941 F.3d 1320 (Fed. Cir. 2019).
We do not. Despite Fall Line’s arguments otherwise, “a writ of mandamus is not intended to be simply an alternative means of obtaining appellate relief, particularly where relief by appeal has been specifically prohibited by Congress.” In re Power Integrations, Inc., 899 F.3d 1316, 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2018). And Fall Line’s challenge to the constitutional fix adopted by this court in Arthrex invokes the same arguments that we rejected in our denial of en banc review in that case. See Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., 953 F.3d 760, 763 (Fed. Cir. 2020) (Moore, J., joined by O’Malley, Reyna, and Chen, J., concurring in denial of rehearing en banc). Accordingly, we decline Fall Line’s invitation to effect legal whiplash and reject the recent holdings of this court in ESIP Series 2 and Arthrex. We conclude, however, that Fall Line did not waive its right to assert an Appointments Clause challenge, and vacate and remand for a new panel of APJs to consider the IPR anew.
James v. J2 Cloud Services, LLC (Nonprecedential)
U.S. Patent No. 6,208,638 (“the ’638 patent”) is owned by Advanced Messaging Technologies, Inc., licensed to J2 Cloud Services, LLC (collectively, “defendants”), and lists Jaye Muller and Jack Rieley as the inventors. Appellant Gregory C. James claims to be the sole inventor of the inventions claimed in the ’638 patent. James sued the defendants in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, seeking correction of inventorship under 35 U.S.C § 256 and asserting various state-law claims based on his claimed inventorship. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants and against James. We affirm.
In re Adobe Inc. (Nonprecedential Order)
Adobe Inc. petitions for a writ of mandamus asking this court to direct the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to grant its motion to transfer pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. SynKloud Technologies, LLC opposes. Adobe replies.
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In short, retaining this case in the Western District of Texas is not convenient for the parties and witnesses. It is not in the interest of justice or proper administration. And the district court’s contrary determination amounted to a clear abuse of discretion. We therefore grant Adobe’s petition for a writ of mandamus to direct transfer.
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
The petition is granted.
In re Dropbox, Inc. (Nonprecedential Order)
In these related petitions arising out of patent infringement suits brought by SynKloud Technologies, LLC against Dropbox, Inc., which we consider together, Dropbox asks this court to direct the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas to grant its motions to transfer under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
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In light of this court’s intervening decision in Adobe, we decline to find that Dropbox has “no other adequate means to attain the relief [it] desires” without Dropbox first moving the district court for reconsideration of its orders denying Dropbox’s motions to transfer. Cheney v. U.S. Dist.
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
The petitions are denied.