Supreme Court Activity

Here is an update on recent activity at the Supreme Court in cases decided by the Federal Circuit. As for granted cases, this week the Court decided Minerva Surgical, Inc. v. Hologic, Inc., in which the Court overturned the Federal Circuit’s approach to the assignor estoppel doctrine. Additionally, three cases were granted, vacated, and remanded based on the decision in United States v. Arthrex, Inc. regarding application of the Appointments Clause to administrative patent judges. As for petition cases:

Here are the details.

  • a reply brief was submitted in support of a petition in a government contract case;
  • the government filed a waiver of right to respond in a patent case;
  • the Court dismissed one petition; and
  • the Court denied five petitions, including four regarding application of the Appointments Clause to administrative patent judges.

Granted Cases

On June 29, the Court issued its decision in Minerva Surgical, Inc. v. Hologic, Inc. In Justice Kagan’s majority opinion, the Court found that, while the Federal Circuit “was right to uphold” the doctrine of assignor estoppel, it failed to apply the doctrine appropriately. The Court, as a result, vacated the Federal Circuit’s judgment and remanded the case. You can learn more by reading our breaking news post here. Our opinion summary will be published soon.

In addition, three petitions were granted, vacated, and remanded in light of last week’s opinion in United States v. Arthrex, Inc.

Petition Cases

Waiver of Right to Respond

In Ultratec, Inc. v. CaptionCall, LLC, a patent case involving a question related to whether retroactive application of the inter partes review process violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the government filed a waiver of right to respond.


In Oracle America, Inc. v. United States, Oracle submitted its reply brief in support of its petition, which asks the Court to review questions relating to bid protests. Oracle contends that, “in evaluating Oracle’s conflict-of-interest challenge, the Federal Circuit made two serious legal errors,” and that “[c]orrecting them would thus provide great ‘value in other cases,’ . . . especially because these errors are central to the Federal Circuit’s approach in every procurement case involving a conflict of interest.” Oracle further argues that “the supposed ‘intensely fact-bound’ nature of the Federal Circuit’s materiality inquiry . . . is a reason to grant review, not deny it” because “such an inquiry is entirely unnecessary—and inappropriate.” Oracle also argues that “Amazon’s role in these conflicts of interest further underscores the importance of this Court’s review” and “makes plain the need to protect bedrock separation-of-powers principles.” Oracle explains that “[a]ny suggestion that the neutrality and independence the framers guaranteed for courts could be replicated within the Executive Branch was never more than wishful thinking.” Oracle contends that “[i]t is time for this Court to banish such wishful thinking, to enforce the statutory conflict-of-interest prohibition as Congress wrote it, and to reaffirm the judiciary’s critical role in protecting accountability and integrity in government contracting.”


The Court dismissed the petition in Fredman Bros. Furniture Co. v. Bedgear, LLC (a patent case that included an Appointments Clause challenge) pursuant to the petitioner’s motion to dismiss.


Lastly, the Court denied petitions in five cases.