This morning, the Federal Circuit released one precedential opinion, one nonprecedential opinion, and one nonprecedential order. The precedential opinion, which sparked a dissent from Judge Dyk, addresses an appeal in a patent case from a district court’s finding that the case was exceptional. The nonprecedential opinion affirms a judgment of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims regarding the effective date of a veteran’s disability compensation. The order grants a motion to withdraw an appeal. Here are the introductions to the opinions and a link to the order.

In re PersonalWeb Technologies LLC (Precedential)

PersonalWeb appeals a district court award of $5,187,203.99 in attorneys’ fees entered against it.  PersonalWeb argues that we should reverse the award because the district court erred in finding that the underlying case was “exceptional” within the meaning of the term under 35 U.S.C. § 285.  PersonalWeb also contends that, even if the case was exceptional and fees are appropriate, the district court erred in its calculation of the overall fee award.  Because the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding this case exceptional or in calculating the total fees awarded, we affirm.

DYK, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

The majority’s opinion rests on the remarkable proposition that PersonalWeb’s arguments were objectively baseless (and supported a fee award) despite the Solicitor General’s agreeing that those very same arguments were correct.  The majority’s opinion effectively awards fees for a lack of success, which is not an appropriate use of section 285, and will likely chill legitimate advocacy.  Munchkin, Inc. v. Luv n’ Care, Ltd., 960 F.3d 1373, 1378 (Fed. Cir. 2020); Pro. Real Est. Invs., Inc. v. Columbia Pictures Indus., Inc., 508 U.S. 49, 50 (1993).  I respectfully dissent. 

Rivera v. McDonough (Nonprecedential)

Donald Rivera served with the United States Air Force from June 1972 to June 1976; he injured his back in 1973 while loading weapons.  The matter in dispute is the effective date of his disability compensation for degenerative bone disease and stenosis of the lumbar spine.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regional office denied an effective date earlier than Mr. Rivera’s application date of August 25, 2006, rejecting his argument that he had attempted to file an application in 1976 but a VA representative told him he was not eligible for compensation and refused to complete the filing of his application.  He appealed to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA or “Board”), seeking an effective date retroactive to 1976.  The Board upheld the denial, and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC or “Veterans Court”) affirmed after proceedings including a remand.

Mr. Rivera raises constitutional and statutory questions.  On review of all the issues, we affirm the decision of the Veterans Court.