This morning the Federal Circuit issued a precedential opinion in a tax case appealed from the Court of International Trade and a nonprecedential opinion in a patent case appealed from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Here are the introductions to the opinions.

National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of the Treasury (Precedential)

This case involves the interaction of federal excise taxes and duty drawbacks for wine in the United States. The United States Government appeals from a judgment by the United States Court of International Trade holding that a set of regulations, collectively described herein as the Rule, promulgated in 2018 by the Department of Treasury and the United States Customs and Border Protection, are invalid as an unlawful interpretation of 19 U.S.C. § 1313(v).

The question presented on appeal is whether the Court of International Trade erred when it invalidated the Rule interpreting 19 U.S.C. § 1313(v) finding that the statute was unambiguous at step one of Chevron. We conclude that the Court of International Trade did not err in finding that the Rule, which redefines “drawback” to include excise tax liability on exports that have neither been “paid or determined,” is contrary to the clear intent of Congress as expressed in the language and structure of the statute. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Court of International Trade.

Ethicon LLC v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (Nonprecedential)

This is an appeal and cross-appeal from the final written decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in an inter partes review of U.S. Patent No. 8,616,431, where the Board held certain claims anticipated, and other claims obvious. Ethicon LLC, the patent owner, asks this court to consider two claim construction disputes. Petitioner Intuitive Surgical, Inc. cross-appeals, seeking review of a factual issue regarding motivation to combine. We adopt the Board’s construction of the disputed terms “robotic system” and “tool mounting portion” and thus affirm the Board’s anticipation findings. We also determine that the Board’s finding of no motivation to combine is not supported by substantial evidence, and reverse the Board’s decision as to obviousness.