Here is an update on recent activity at the Supreme Court in cases decided by the Federal Circuit. With respect to granted cases, the Supreme Court heard arguments this week in George v. McDonough, a case addressing veterans law. While no new petitions have been filed, the Court invited the Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the views of the United States in a case concerning patent law’s enablement requirement. Additionally, two waivers of right to respond and a reply brief were filed in other patent cases. Moreover, two amicus briefs were submitted this past week: one in a patent case raising questions related to enhanced damages and one in a veterans case involving the Equal Access to Justice Act. Finally, the Court denied certiorari in two cases brought by pro se petitioners. Here are the details.
On April 19, the Supreme Court heard arguments in George v. McDonough, a case raising a question concerning the scope of clear and unmistakable error in the context of veterans’ benefits cases. We will post an argument recap soon.
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 Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi, Aventisub LLC, a case that raises questions related to patent law’s enablement requirement.
Waivers of Right to Respond
High Tech Inventors Alliance (HTIA) submitted an amicus brief in Cisco Systems, Inc. v. SRI International, Inc., which as discussed above concerns enhanced damages in patent infringement cases. In its brief, HTIA emphasizes that the district court committed a fundamental error when it “rested its enhanced-damages award on factors adopted by the Federal Circuit thirty years ago in Read Corp. v. Portec, Inc.,” rather than factors under the Supreme Court’s more recent decision in Halo Electronics. HTIA argues, moreover, that “Halo Electronics’ requirement of wanton and malicious conduct sets a standard far more demanding than mere negligence.” According to HTIA, lower court reliance on Read factors is not uncommon, and this “harms innovative companies because it allows courts to impose enhanced damages in cases of ordinary infringement.” Accordingly, HTIA urges the Supreme Court to intervene and “correct the lower courts’ application of an enhanced-damages standard that does not comport with Halo Electronics.”
Veterans Legal Advocacy Group (VetLAG) submitted an amicus brief in Athey v. United States, which concerns a provision under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) related to United States’ liability for costs and fees. According to VetLAG, the underlying decisions if allowed to stand “will hurt many veterans who rely on the EAJA to hire an attorney to challenge government abuses.” VetLAG argues, in particular, that instead of discussing “the resources spent on, the quality of, or the value of the class’s claims,” the decisions “unlawfully relied on a tally of successful versus unsuccessful claims to find the United States’ position was substantially justified.” VetLAG contends that “[t]his simplistic reduction-to-numbers approach conflicts with equal access to justice.”
Universal Secure Registry, the petitioner in Universal Secure Registry LLC v. Apple Inc., filed its reply in support of its petition, which raised questions related to patent eligibility. Universal Secure Registry argues that the Supreme Court “should resolve post-Alice conflicts and confusion as to ‘abstract ideas’ as well as ‘natural laws,’ and as to technological patents as well as mechanical patents.” It, moreover, rejects Apple’s argument that previous denials of certiorari by the Supreme Court have relevance here. According to Universal Secure Registry, Apple “fail[ed] to cite any prior petition asking this Court to clarify Alice step one and decide whether it requires specificity, unexpected results, or unconventionality.”
The Supreme Court denied certiorari in the following cases: