This morning, the Federal Circuit released one precedential opinion, one nonprecedential opinion, one precedential order, and three nonprecedential orders. The precedential opinion addresses an appeal from judgments arising out of a bench trial in the Western District of Louisiana in a patent case.  The nonprecedential opinion affirms a decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board finding certain claims unpatentable for obviousness. The precedential order, which attracted amicus attention and a dissent joined by four judges, denies a sua sponte request for rehearing en banc. Two of the orders transfer cases, and one dismisses a set of appeals. Here are the introductions to the opinions, selected text from the precedential order and transfers, and link to the dismissal.

Luv N’ Care, Ltd. v. Laurain (Precedential Opinion)

This appeal arises from a lawsuit between two manufacturers of dining mats for toddlers: Luv n’ care, Ltd. and Nouri E. Hakim (collectively, “LNC”), on one side, and Lindsey Laurain (“Laurain”) and Eazy-PZ, LLC (collectively, “EZPZ”), on the other.  After years of litigation, a judge in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana (“Western District”) held a bench trial.  The trial court then issued an opinion finding that LNC failed to prove EZPZ’s U.S. Patent No. 9,462,903 (the “’903 patent”) is unenforceable due to inequitable conduct but, at the same time, LNC succeeded in proving that EZPZ was barred from obtaining relief due to its “unclean hands.”  Separately, the district court granted LNC’s motion for partial summary judgment that the claims of the ’903 patent are invalid as obvious.  The court also denied LNC’s motion to recover its attorney fees and costs.

Both LNC and EZPZ now appeal.  As explained below, we (1) affirm the district court’s judgment for LNC on unclean hands; (2) vacate the judgment for EZPZ of no inequitable conduct; (3) vacate the grant of partial summary judgment of invalidity; and (4) vacate the orders denying attorney fees and costs.  We remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

Avago Technologies International Sales PTE. Ltd. v. Netflix, Inc. (Nonprecedential Opinion)

In December 2020, Netflix, Inc. filed a petition seeking an inter partes review (IPR) of claims 1–14 and 16–19 of U.S. Patent No. 8,270,992, which is undisputedly owned by Avago Technologies International Sales Pte. Ltd. as assignee.  Upon institution and conduct of the IPR, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued a final written decision holding claims 1–13 and 16–18 unpatentable for obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103.  Netflix, Inc. v. Avago Technologies International Sales Pte. Ltd., No. IPR2021-00303, 2022 WL 2190436 (P.T.A.B. June 17, 2022) (Decision).  Avago, which asserts the ’992 patent in a pending suit against Netflix, appeals the Board’s decision.  We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(4)(A).  We affirm.

Boyer v. United States (Precedential Order)

This case was argued before a panel of three judges on November 9, 2023, and a precedential opinion issued on March 26, 2024.  A sua sponte request for a poll on whether to consider this case en banc was made. A poll was conducted, and the poll failed. 



The request for rehearing en banc is denied.

MOORE, Chief Judge, LOURIE, PROST, and TARANTO, Circuit Judges, dissenting from the denial of the sua sponte request for rehearing en banc.

This case raises a pure legal issue of statutory interpretation:  Does the Equal Pay Act provision “factor other than sex” permit consideration of prior pay when setting an employee’s salary—as has been expressly authorized by Federal statute and regulation for Federal government employment for more than 50 years?  There can be no doubt that this is an important question worthy of en banc consideration.  It is a purely legal issue, there is a three-way circuit split (outside the Federal employee context), and there are serious concerns about the merits of the panel decision and its practical implications.  The Federal government is the nation’s largest employer, with over 1.5 million General Schedule (GS) employees.  The panel decision creates an immediate claim for a large number of Federal employees, enormous liability for the government, and an unworkable investigative standard, and it calls into question the validity of OPM’s new regulations addressing the use of prior pay in salary setting.  We look forward to briefing at the en banc stage to help flesh out these issues.

Draughn v. Department of the Army (Nonprecedential Order)

Following this court’s February 22, 2024 show cause order, Velesa Draughn urges this court not to dismiss or transfer this matter, while the Department of the Army urges transfer.  

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This matter and all case filings are transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631. 

Baldwin v. Department of Energy (Nonprecedential Order)

On January 31, 2024, this court issued a show cause order directing the parties to address whether this court had jurisdiction.  The Department of Energy (“DOE”) responds urging transfer.

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(1) ECF No. 12 is denied.

(2) This matter and all its filings are transferred to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1631.