This morning, the Federal Circuit released three opinions: a precedential opinion in a patent case decided by the International Trade Commission, a precedential opinion in a veterans case, and a nonprecedential opinion in a case decided by the Merit Systems Protection Board. Here are the introductions of the opinions.

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. v. International Trade Commission (Precedential)

10X Genomics Inc. filed a complaint against Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. with the International Trade Commission, alleging that Bio-Rad’s importation and sale of microfluidic systems and components used for gene sequencing or related analyses violated section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. § 1337. Invoking the statute’s bar on importation and sale “of articles that . . . (i) infringe a valid and enforceable United States patent,” 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(1)(B), 10X alleged that Bio-Rad infringed certain claims of several of 10X’s patents, including U.S. Patent Nos. 9,689,024, 9,695,468, and 9,856,530. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined that Bio-Rad violated the statute with respect to all three patents. Specifically, the ALJ found that Bio-Rad infringed the patent claims now at issue and also that 10X practiced the claims, the latter fact satisfying the requirement of a domestic industry “relating to the articles protected by the patent,” id. § 1337(a)(2). In addition, the ALJ rejected Bio-Rad’s defense that it could not be liable for infringement because it co-owned the asserted 10X patents under assignment provisions that two of the named inventors signed when they were employees of BioRad (and its predecessor), even though the inventions claimed were not made until after the employment. The Commission affirmed the ALJ’s determinations, though it modified some of the ALJ’s reasoning. We affirm.

Smith v. McDonough (Precedential)

This is a veterans case, presenting an important question of proper compensation under the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), codified in relevant part at 28 U.S.C. § 2412. Under the EAJA’s fee-shifting provisions, the Federal Government, if the statutory requirements are met, must reimburse attorneys’ fees of a party who prevails in a lawsuit against the Government.

In this case, veteran Robert L. Smith was dissatisfied with the decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding his claims for veterans’ benefits. He took an appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (“Veterans Court”), an Article I tribunal first created in 1988 for reviewing final decisions of the Department of Veterans Affairs. There he obtained a victory on the merits in part of his case against the Government. He then requested of the court an EAJA award for his appellate counsel. The Veterans Court agreed to an award which included time spent by the attorney in the initial review of the record in the case. That time comprised 18 hours spent on an initial review of the 9,389-page agency record. The court, however, imposed a reduction in that part of the award because the litigant prevailed on some but not all of the issues that were litigated.

The Veterans Court was of the view that this reduction was required as a matter of law by the EAJA. As we shall explain, this undervalued the importance of the initial review of the case, a review that is necessary before appellate counsel could determine what bases, if any, existed for an appeal, and is contrary to the purpose and law of the EAJA. Because the court erred in so concluding, we reverse-in-part, affirm-in-part, and remand the matter to the Veterans Court for an award consistent with this opinion.

Willis v. Office of Personnel Management (Nonprecedential)

Petitioner appeals a decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board denying attorneys’ fees and costs. The Merit Systems Protection Board found that the petitioner did not demonstrate entitlement to an award of attorneys’ fees and costs. Because the decision is supported by substantial evidence and is not otherwise contrary to law, we affirm.