Supreme Court Activity

Here is an update on recent activity at the Supreme Court in cases decided by the Federal Circuit. With respect to the Supreme Court’s October 2021 term, the Court still has not granted any petitions in cases decided by the Federal Circuit. Since our last update, however, a pro se party filed one new petition with the Court in a patent case. As for previously filed petitions, one amicus brief in a veterans case and one waiver of right to respond in a pro se case were filed. Here are the details.

Granted Cases

There is no new activity to report.

Petition Cases

New Petitions

In Bongiorno v. Hirshfeld, a pro se petitioner asked the Court to consider the following questions in a patent case:

  1. “Whether a new and non-obvious ‘dedicated electronic unit‘ with new hardware structures including a plurality of ‘special function buttons [to] enable the user to more easily navigate through the software’ (App. 73a), which ‘increase its usefulness,’ and its ‘effectiveness,’ is a patentable ‘machine’ in accordance with Cantrell v. Wallick, 117 U.S. 689, 694 (1886).” 
  2. “Whether presumptive patent-eligibly of a ‘new and useful improvement’ to a ‘machine’ under section 101 is eviscerated because the analog of the mechanical functionality provided by the physical ‘machine’ components (e.g., the ‘function buttons’) and the corresponding software functionality of the ‘dedicated electronic unit‘ can be programmed to operate in a similar manner using the touch screen of a ‘generic computer.'”

Amicus Brief

Military-Veterans Advocacy Inc. filed an amicus brief in support of the petition in Arellano v. McDonough, which raises questions relating to the application of equitable tolling for recovering retroactive disability benefits. In its brief, Military-Veterans Advocacy noted that the Supreme Court “established a rebuttable presumption that the doctrine of equitable tolling . . . applies to claims against the government unless ‘a realistic assessment of legislative intent’ forecloses its application.” Despite this guidance from the Court, Military-Veterans Advocacy argued, and given a divided en banc Federal Circuit in this case, Supreme Court intervention is now needed “to undo the existing panel and lower-court precedent that denies equitable tolling to deserving veterans like Petitioner.”

Waiver of Right to Respond

The Government filed a waiver of right to respond in Johnson v. United States, a pro se case.