This morning the Federal Circuit released two precedential opinions. The first opinion comes in a patent case appealed from the District of Delaware. In this opinion, the Federal Circuit affirms the district court’s determination that a party lacks standing as a matter of collateral estoppel and concludes that the same party has standing in a companion case. Notably, Jude Lourie expressed additional views on the matter. The second opinion comes in another patent case, this one appealed from the Northern District of California. In this opinion, the Federal Circuit explains why it reverses the district court’s determination that a party does not have standing and remands the case. This morning the Federal Circuit also released three nonprecedential opinions. Two come in cases appealed from the Merit Systems Protection Board, and one comes in a veterans case appealed from the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Here are the introductions to the opinions.
Uniloc USA, Inc. v. Motorola Mobility LLC (Precedential)
Uniloc USA, Inc. and Uniloc Luxembourg, S.A. (together, “the Unilocs”) sued Motorola in the District of Delaware for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,161,134 (the “Motorola case”). The asserted patent concerns, in part, pairing a telephone with another device and using the other device to make a telephone call using the telephone’s cellular capabilities.
Motorola moved to dismiss, alleging the Unilocs lacked standing because they lacked the right to exclude, having granted Fortress Credit Co. LLC (“Fortress”) a license and an unfettered right to sublicense the asserted patent. The Unilocs argued that they had not granted such a license to Fortress and, even if they had, the license would not eliminate the Unilocs’ standing. The district court dismissed, agreeing that the Unilocs had granted a license and that the existence of a license deprived the Unilocs of standing.
In a related case, the Unilocs sued Blackboard Inc. in the Western District of Texas for infringement of U.S. Patents Nos. 6,324,578 and 7,069,293 which both concern technology that facilitates access to customized and licensed applications on individual computers within distributed networks (the “Blackboard case”). Uniloc 2017 (which acquired the relevant patents from Uniloc Luxembourg (“Uniloc Lux”)) was later substituted as the sole plaintiff, and the case was transferred to the District of Delaware. The district court then dismissed the Blackboard case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, apparently applying the Motorola case as a matter of collateral estoppel.
On appeal, in addition to defending the district courts’ decisions, both Motorola and Blackboard assert that the decision in another Uniloc case, Uniloc USA, Inc. v. Apple, Inc., No. C 18-00358, 2020 WL 7122617 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 4, 2020) (the “Apple case”), (which has now become final by the dismissal of Uniloc USA’s appeal), establishes that the Unilocs and Uniloc 2017 lack standing as a matter of collateral estoppel in the Motorola and Blackboard cases. We agree and find the Apple decision is collateral estoppel in those cases. We thus affirm the district courts’ determinations that the Unilocs and Uniloc 2017 lack standing.
In a companion case, also issued today, we concluded that a Termination Agreement entered into between the Unilocs and Fortress on May 3, 2018 eliminated the Fortress license and that Uniloc 2017 has standing going forward once the Agreement was executed. Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Google LLC, — F.4th — (Fed. Cir. 2022) (the “Google case”).
LOURIE, Circuit Judge, additional views.
I join the opinion of the court in all respects, except that I believe the paragraph at page 8, lines 11–23, beginning “[w]e recognize there is considerable force to Uniloc’s argument that, even if Fortress had been granted a license and an unfettered right to sublicense, Uniloc would have Article III standing,” is a regrettable understatement. In my view, there is more than considerable force to the argument; it is clear that Uniloc still had the right to sue unlicensed infringers after it granted the license.
Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Google LLC (Precedential)
Uniloc 2017 LLC (“Uniloc 2017”) brought multiple patent infringement suits against Google LLC in the Eastern District of Texas. Uniloc 2017 alleged that various Google products infringed a variety of patents directed to innovations in multimedia content delivery (Nos. 6,628,712, 6,952,450, 7,012,960, and 8,407,609), IT security (Nos. 8,949,954 and 9,564,952), high-resolution imaging (No. 6,349,154), network connectivity (No. 8,194,632), video conferencing (No. 6,473,114), and image and text searching (Nos. 6,253,201 and 6,366,908). Those suits were later transferred to the Northern District of California. Google moved to dismiss the actions, alleging Uniloc 2017 lacked standing, and thus the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Google’s theory was that Uniloc 2017 lacked standing because it lacked the right to exclude, its predecessors having granted Fortress Credit Co. LLC a license and an unfettered right to sublicense to the asserted patents as part of a financing arrangement.
Uniloc 2017 argued that its predecessors had not granted such a license to Fortress and, even if they had, the license would not eliminate Uniloc 2017’s standing. Uniloc 2017 further argued that, in any event, any license had been eliminated by a Termination Agreement executed between Uniloc 2017’s predecessors and Fortress before these suits commenced. The district court granted Google’s motion to dismiss, finding that a license had been granted; that the license survived the Termination Agreement; and that Uniloc 2017 therefore lacked standing. We hold that the district court erred in interpreting the Termination Agreement and in concluding there was no subject matter jurisdiction. We reverse and remand.
Lentz v. Department of the Interior (Nonprecedential)
Chase M. Lentz was employed as a botanist by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is a component of the Department of the Interior. After he resigned his position, he filed an individual-right-of-action appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board under the Whistleblower Enhanced Protection Act (WEPA), 5 U.S.C. §§ 1214(a), 2302(b)(8), complaining, as relevant here, that Interior had retaliated against him for making disclosures protected by WEPA. Specifically, he alleged that he was issued a letter of reprimand and ultimately suspended in retaliation for certain assertions (disclosures) he made about one of his supervisors, namely, that she had (1) stolen a piece of paper from him, (2) lied to Mr. Lentz’s other supervisors by denying that she had authorized him to take a certain action he took, and (3) lied by denying that she knew he was hiring a new intern.
The Board rejected Mr. Lentz’s request for relief, concluding that he had not proved that he had made any “protected” disclosures, as no reasonable person would view the actions he disclosed to be abuses of discretion or illegal. Lentz v. Department of Interior, No. SF-1221-15-0688-W-1, 2022 WL 2388642 (M.S.P.B. June 30, 2022) (Board Op.). Mr. Lentz appeals, arguing that the Board improperly split this appeal from other appeals he had pending before the Board and, in any event, reached an unreasonable conclusion. Because there was no improper bifurcation that prevented a full and fair adjudication of the issues Mr. Lentz raised, and because he has not established a basis for disturbing the Board’s factual findings under the applicable standard of review, we affirm.
Lentz. v. Department of the Interior (Nonprecedential)
Chase M. Lentz, a veteran, was employed as a botanist by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which is a component of the Department of the Interior. After he resigned his position, he filed a petition with the Merit Systems Protection Board under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), complaining that Interior had retaliated against him for exercising his USERRA rights. Specifically, he alleged that his BLM supervisors provided negative references to prospective employers in retaliation for a USERRA complaint he had filed with the Department of Labor, while he was working at BLM, asserting that he had not been selected for various BLM vacancies because he was a veteran.
The Board denied Mr. Lentz relief, concluding that he did not prove that his pre-resignation USERRA complaint motivated his BLM supervisors to provide negative post-resignation employment references. Lentz v. Department of Interior, No. SF-4324-16-0680-I-1, 2022 WL 2389189 (M.S.P.B. June 30, 2022) (Board Op.). Mr. Lentz appeals, arguing that the Board improperly split this appeal from other appeals he had pending before the Board and, in any event, reached an unreasonable conclusion. Because there was no improper bifurcation that prevented a full and fair adjudication of the issues Mr. Lentz raised, and because he has not established a basis for disturbing the Board’s factual findings under the applicable standard of review, we affirm.
Ogburn v. McDonough (Nonprecedential)
Launa G. Ogburn appeals a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims dismissing her appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Because the Veterans Court lacked jurisdiction to hear Ms. Ogburn’s appeal, we affirm.