This morning the Federal Circuit released three precedential opinions. The first comes in a patent case appealed from the Eastern District of Virginia; the second comes in a trade case appealed from the Court of International Trade; and the third comes in a veterans case appealed from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Notably, in the trade case, Judge Newman dissented. The Federal Circuit also released three nonprecedential opinions in patent cases appealed from the Court of Federal Claims, the District of South Carolina, and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, respectively. Finally, the Federal Circuit released a nonprecedential order dismissing an appeal for failure to prosecute and a Rule 36 judgment. Here are the introductions to the opinions, a link to the dismissal, and a link to the Rule 36 judgment.

Hyatt v. United States Patent and Trademark Office (Precedential)

Following decades of patent-related litigation, patent applicant Gilbert P. Hyatt submitted significant claim amendments for his U.S. Patent Application No. 08/435,938 (“the ’938 application”) in August 2015. A Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) examiner then issued a restriction requirement for seven of eight claims that Mr. Hyatt had selected for examination. Mr. Hyatt filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia alleging, among other things, that the restriction requirement was improper, such that the PTO violated 5 U.S.C. § 706. The district court disagreed; it determined that 37 C.F.R. § 1.129 (“Rule 129”) permitted the restriction requirement for Mr. Hyatt’s ’938 application. The district court accordingly granted the PTO’s motion for summary judgment and denied Mr. Hyatt’s competing motion. Mr. Hyatt appeals. We affirm.

California Steel Industries, Inc. v. United States (Precedential)

Before the United States Court of International Trade, several domestic importers challenged the United States Department of Commerce’s denials of their requests to be excluded from paying certain national security tariffs and to obtain refunds for such paid tariffs. Domestic steel producers United States Steel Corporation, Electralloy/G.O. Carlson, Crucible Industries LLC, Ellwood City Forge Company, and Ellwood Specialty Steel moved to intervene as of right, arguing that these exclusion-request disputes implicated their interests. The Court of International Trade denied their motions. N. Am. Interpipe, Inc. v. United States, 519 F. Supp. 3d 1313 (Ct. Int’l Trade 2021) (Decision). The proposed intervenors appeal from the court’s denial. We affirm.

NEWMAN, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

This appeal concerns the right of certain domestic steel producers to intervene in the appeal of tariff proceedings (here a tariff whose purpose is to support domestic steel manufacturing capacity for products critical to national security) by imposing a tariff on corresponding imported steel. The court now denies these domestic steel producers the right to participate in the appeal to the Court of International Trade concerning requests for relief from those tariffs. The panel majority rules that although these domestic steel producers have standing to intervene, they do not have a legally protectable interest. Maj. Op. at 17. However, the authorizing statute contemplates participation by affected domestic industries, in service to the national security purposes of this statute. From the denial of the requested interventions, I respectfully dissent.

Skaar v. McDonough (Precedential)

United States Air Force veteran Victor B. Skaar was exposed to ionizing radiation while participating in a cleanup operation in Palomares, Spain. Thirty years later, he was diagnosed with leukopenia. He filed a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs for service-connected benefits, and the Board of Veterans’ Appeals denied his claim. Mr. Skaar appealed the Board’s denial to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. There, he challenged the soundness of the radiation dose estimates provided by the Air Force and relied upon by the Board in denying his claim. By motion for class certification, Mr. Skaar sought to make this challenge on behalf of all similarly situated veterans who had participated in the Palomares cleanup operation. The Veterans Court certified a class, with Mr. Skaar serving as its representative, that includes veterans who had not received a Board decision and that excludes veterans whose claims had been denied but not timely appealed. See Skaar v. Wilkie, 32 Vet. App. 156, 201 (2019) (Class Certification). The Secretary of Veterans Affairs appeals, and Mr. Skaar cross-appeals, the Veterans Court’s class definition.

On appeal, the Secretary asserts that the Veterans Court lacked authority to certify a class that includes veterans who had not received a Board decision—a statutory prerequisite for the court’s jurisdiction pursuant to 38 U.S.C. § 7252(a)—because jurisdiction over Mr. Skaar’s individual claim did not create further jurisdiction over a class of similarly situated veterans whose individual claims were beyond the court’s jurisdiction. We agree. By certifying a class that includes veterans who had not received a Board decision, the Veterans Court exceeded its jurisdiction. We accordingly vacate the court’s class certification and remand for further proceedings.

On cross-appeal, Mr. Skaar contends that the Veterans Court should have equitably tolled the appeal period for veterans whose claims had been denied but not timely appealed and thus should have included such veterans as members of the certified class. We disagree. The Veterans Court rightly declined to equitably toll the appeal period for claimants who had not timely appealed their denied claims since none of the claimants had alleged, let alone established, the requisite due diligence in pursuing their rights. See Toomer v. McDonald, 783 F.3d 1229, 1237–38 (Fed. Cir. 2015). Thus, should the Veterans Court choose to reconsider on remand whether class certification is appropriate, the court shall confine the proposed class to include only Palomares veterans who had timely appealed, or were still able to timely appeal, Board decisions denying their radiation exposure claims.

Golden v. United States (Nonprecedential)

Larry Golden appeals an order of the United States Court of Federal Claims (“Claims Court”) dismissing his patent infringement claims against the United States (“government”). We affirm.

Golden v. Apple Inc. (Nonprecedential)

Larry Golden appeals two orders of the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina (“district court”) dismissing his patent infringement claims against various defendants. We affirm the dismissal in Case No. 22-1229 but vacate the dismissal in Case No. 22-1267 and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion

Apple Inc. v. MPH Technologies Oy (Nonprecedential)

Apple Inc. appeals the final written decisions issued in two Patent Trial and Appeal Board inter partes reviews concerning U.S. Patent No. 7,620,810 and U.S. Patent No. 7,937,581 (collectively, the “Challenged Patents”), both owned by MPH Technologies Oy. Apple Inc. v. MPH Techs. Oy, IPR2019-00819, 2020 WL 5735595 (P.T.A.B. Sept. 24, 2020) (Decision I); Apple Inc. v. MPH Techs. Oy, IPR2019- 00820, 2020 WL 5735601 (P.T.A.B. Sept. 24, 2020) (Decision II). Because the Board adopted an erroneous claim construction of “encrypted” messages in both decisions, we vacate the Board’s unpatentability determinations based on that construction and remand for further consideration. Because we further hold that the Board properly found that Apple’s petition failed to demonstrate the unpatentability of dependent claims 6–8 of the ’581 patent, we affirm as to those claims.


Rule 36 Judgment