Here is a report on recent news and commentary related to the Federal Circuit and its cases. Today’s report highlights an article discussing the potential impact of the Federal Circuit’s holding in National Veterans Legal Services Program v. United States on fees for searching and downloading federal case files, more commentary on the confusion generated by the Federal Circuit’s approach to patent eligibility in American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC, and news concerning Fitbit’s case decided by the Federal Circuit last Thursday.
Ann E. Marimow published an article with the Washington Post concerning the Federal Circuit’s holding in National Veterans Legal Services Program v. United States, which affirmed a district court’s interpretation of a statute governing constraints on the federal government’s fees for searching and downloading federal case files. Marimow explains that, on the one hand, the ruling “does not eliminate the paywall for the service known as PACER, an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records.” On the other hand, though, she explains that “the decision upholds a District Court finding that the current 10 cents per page charge is ‘higher than necessary to operate’ the system.” She predicts the ruling “could result in lower fees to search and download case documents.” For more information on this case, see our prior coverage.
Ryan Davis filed an article with Law360 addressing the fallout from American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. v. Neapco Holdings LLC, a case addressing the patent eligibility requirement. As we recently summarized, in this case a Federal Circuit panel modified its original opinion denying eligibility, and then the full court narrowly denied en banc rehearing by a 6-6 vote. Regarding the potential for legislative reform, as explained by Davis, “U.S. Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., held a series of hearings last year on a potential bill to rewrite the law and put limits on when patents can be invalidated as ineligible.” But, Davis explains, “[t]hat effort stalled out last year amid disputes among industry groups . . . and it’s unlikely to be revived in an election year.” Davis, however, reports that former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel said that “he and other stakeholders have been working to draft new legislation aimed at making it more palatable to the senators, so ‘there’s reason to believe there may be some significant progress early in 2021.'” For more information on this case, see our coverage, including guest posts by Judge Michel and Prof. Jeff Lefstin.
Blake Brittain summarized for Bloomberg Law a recent Federal Circuit decision involving Fitbit, a case entitled Blackbird Tech LLC v. Fitbit, Inc. As explained by Brittain, “[t]he Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB’s decision [invalidating a patent claim challenged by Fitbit], finding an earlier patent included a processor that used what an ordinary artisan would consider an ‘identical’ method of measuring distance.” Brittain noted the court “rejected Blackbird’s argument that the methods weren’t the same because an ordinary artisan would have to cancel out a numerator and denominator from the earlier patent’s equation to come up with its invention.” We previously provided a report on the court’s decision.