Here is an update on recent activity at the Supreme Court in cases decided by the Federal Circuit. This week the Court granted certiorari in a veterans case that raises questions regarding equitable tolling and retroactive disability benefits. The Court also requested the Solicitor General file a brief expressing the views of the United States in a patent case raising a question regarding standing to challenge the validity of patents. Additionally, three new petitions were filed with the Court: two in cases appealing decisions from the Merit Systems Protection Board and one in a patent case. Moreover, one amicus brief was submitted in a patent case; three briefs in opposition were filed in trade, employment, and veterans cases; one waiver of right to respond was filed in a patent case; three petitions were denied; and one petition was dismissed. Here are the details.
As discussed below, this week the Supreme Court granted a petition in a case decided by the Federal Circuit.
The Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari in Arellano v. McDonough, which presented two questions regarding equitable tolling in the context of claims for retroactive disability benefits.
Since our last update, three new petitions were filed with the Court.
- “Did the decisions/opinions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the Merit Systems Protection Board constitute erroneous factual findings, misapplications of law, and inappropriate personal attacks on the appearance of the Petitioners?”
- “Whether 10 U.S.C. § 12301(d) is ‘a provision of law referred to in section 101(a)(13)(B) of title 10.’”
In Daikin Industries, Ltd. v. Chemours Company FC, LLC, the Court was asked to review the following question:
- “May a federal appellate court, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act and the principles of separation of powers embedded within that Act, reverse an administrative agency’s decision on a factual ground not addressed by the agency, without a remand to that agency?”
Call for the Views of the Solicitor General
Earlier this week, the Court invited the Acting Solicitor General to file a brief on behalf of the United States in Apple Inc. v. Qualcomm Inc., a case that raises a question related to Article III standing in the patent appeals context.
Saurabh Vishnubhakat, a law professor, filed a brief in support of the petition in Baxter Corp. v. Beckton, Dickinson & Co., which raises questions related to inter partes review of patents by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Vishnubhakat urged the Court to grant review in order to address the Federal Circuit’s “unreasoned departure” from the principle of the ordinary remand rule, which provides that “if a court concludes that the grounds given for agency action are erroneous, it generally should remand to the agency any unsettled issues committed to it by statute.” Moreover, Vishnubhakat argued that by deciding disputes that Congress entrusted to the PTAB, the Federal Circuit is “threaten[ing] core separation-of-powers values.”
Briefs in Opposition
- The government filed a brief in opposition in Transpacific Steel LLC v. United States, which concerns the President’s authority to adjust imports that he determines threaten national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. In its brief, the government argued that the Federal Circuit correctly concluded that “Section 232 does not preclude the President from modifying his initial action after the expiration of the statute’s 90-day and 15-day deadlines.” Additionally, the government asserted that the Federal Circuit correctly rejected the petitioner’s argument that “Proclamation No. 9772 was issued in violation of Section 232’s procedural requirements and that Section 232 itself violates the non-delegation doctrine.”
- In Esparraguera v. Department of the Army, the government filed a brief in opposition arguing that the Federal Circuit “correctly held that both it and the [Merit Systems Protection] Board lacked jurisdiction to review petitioner’s performance-based removal from the [Senior Executive Service] and her associated due process claims.” Moreover, the brief asserted that, because the question raised in the petition “appears to have arisen in only a handful of cases in the four decades the [Civil Service Reform Act of 1978] has been in effect[,]” further review is not warranted.
- A brief in opposition was filed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in Snyder v. McDonough, a case brought by a petitioner who sought a declaration of “entitlement to VA disability benefits based on presumptive service connection for ALS.” The brief rejects the petitioner’s argument that the Secretary acted “arbitrarily and capriciously by limiting Section 3.318’s evidentiary presumption of ALS service connection to veterans who completed at least 90 days of active service.” According to the brief, “when the Secretary promulgated Section 3.318, he considered the scientific evidence concerning a possible link between military service and ALS.” Additionally, the brief asserted that the Federal Circuit’s decision “does not conflict with any decision of this Court or another court of appeals.”
Waiver of Right to Respond
Dell Inc. and VMware, Inc. filed a waiver of right to respond in PersonalWeb Technologies LLC v. Google LLC, in which the petitioner raised a question related to patent eligibility for a computer-implemented invention.
- Apotex Inc. v. Cephalon, Inc. (patent law’s non-obviousness requirement)
- Yu v. Apple Inc. (patent eligibility)
- Buffington v. McDonough (pro-veteran canon of construction and Chevron deference)
In Straw v. United States, a pro se case, the Court dismissed the petition for a writ of certiorari. Noting the petitioner’s repeated abuse of the Court’s process, the Court directed the Clerk “not to accept any further petitions in noncriminal matters from petitioner unless the docketing fee required by Rule 38(a) is paid and the petition is submitted in compliance with Rule 33.1.”