Opinions / Panel Activity

Opinion Summary – Arrowood Indemnity Co. v. United States

On February 22, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Arrowood Indemnity Co. v. United States, Cacciapalle v. United States, Owl Creek Asia I, L.P. v. United States, and Fairholme Funds, Inc. v. United States, cases that attracted amicus briefs. In these cases, the plaintiffs asserted claims at the Court of Federal Claims based on government actions related to the 2008 financial crisis and ownership of shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As explained by the Court of Federal Claims in one of the cases, the “plaintiffs seek the return of money illegally exacted, damages for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty, and compensation for a taking pursuant to the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” The Court of Federal Claims, however, dismissed these claims, finding it “lacks jurisdiction to entertain their fiduciary duty and implied-in-fact-contract claims, and plaintiffs lack standing to pursue any of their claims.” The plaintiffs appealed to the Federal Circuit, challenging the lower court’s holdings. The Federal Circuit consolidated these cases and issued an opinion affirming in part and reversing in part. This is our opinion summary.

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Opinions / Panel Activity

Opinion Summary – Zaxcom, Inc. v. Lectrosonics, Inc.

In February, the Federal Circuit issued a nonprecedential opinion in Zaxcom, Inc. v. Lectrosonics, Inc., a patent case we have been following because it attracted amicus briefs. On appeal, the parties presented arguments concerning whether the Patent Trial and Appeal Board correctly construed certain claims, correctly found certain claim elements in the prior art, whether its analysis of secondary considerations of non-obviousness was correct, and whether the Board correctly found substitute claims to be patentable. Former Chief Judge Paul R. Michel filed an amicus brief encouraging the court to take the time to clarify the court’s law regarding the non-obviousness requirement, while US Inventor, Inc. also filed an amicus brief arguing the Board disregarded industry praise in finding that the claims were obvious. Judge Taranto authored a unanimous opinion on behalf of himself and Judges Lourie and Schall affirming the Board’s judgments. This is our opinion summary.

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Court Week / Panel Activity

Court Week – What You Need To Know

This week is Court Week at the Federal Circuit, and here’s what you need to know. The court will convene 11 panels to consider about 53 cases. Notably, none of this week’s cases attracted amicus briefs. Of the 53 cases, the court will hear oral arguments in 38, and the court will return to hearing oral argument in person. Here is a list of this week’s cases.

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Panel Activity

Update On Important Panel Activity

Here is this month’s update on activity in cases pending before panels of the Federal Circuit where the cases involve at least one amicus brief. We keep track of these cases in the “Other Cases” section of our blog. Today, with respect to these cases we highlight three opinions: the first in a death benefit case addressing a former spouse’s annuity, the second in a patent case, and a consolidated cases regarding the Tucker Act. We also highlight reply briefs in three patent cases, and an argument recap in a patent case that attracted two amicus briefs. Here are the details.

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Argument Recap / Panel Activity

Argument Recap – Zaxcom, Inc. v. Lectrosonics, Inc.

Last Wednesday, the court heard oral argument in Zaxcom, Inc. v. Lectrosonics, Inc., an appeal by Zaxcom from an adverse decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in an inter partes review proceeding initiated by Lectrosonics. We have been following the case because it attracted two amicus briefs, one from retired Federal Circuit Judge Paul R. Michel and one from U.S. Inventor, Inc. On appeal, Zaxcom argues the PTAB incorrectly construed certain claims, incorrectly found certain claim elements in the prior art, and erred in its analysis of secondary considerations of non-obviousness. Lectrosonics cross-appeals, arguing the Board incorrectly found substitute claims to be patentable. Judges Lourie, Schall, Taranto heard Wednesday’s argument. This is our argument recap.

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Court Week / En Banc Activity / Panel Activity

Court Week – What You Need to Know

This week is Court Week at the Federal Circuit, with hearings starting today. Due to the recent spike in COVID cases, all February oral arguments will be held remotely. As it has for some time now, however, the Federal Circuit is providing access to live audio of each panel scheduled for argument via the Federal Circuit’s YouTube channel. In total, including a case set to be argued next week, the court will convene nine panels to consider about 41 cases. Of these 41 cases, the court will hear oral arguments in 31. Of these argued cases, two attracted amicus briefs: one veterans case being heard en banc and one patent case. Here’s what you need to know about these two cases.

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Opinions / Panel Activity

Opinion Summary – Cross v. Office of Personnel Management

Last Monday, the Federal Circuit issued its opinion in Cross v. Office of Personnel Management, a case we have been following because it attracted an amicus brief. The case was argued before Judges Moore, Schall, and Stoll. On appeal, Cross asked the Federal Circuit to reverse a decision of the Merits Systems Protection Board regarding the denial of survivor benefits. In particular, the petitioner claimed survivor benefits as a surviving former spouse when her deceased former husband failed affirmatively to re-elect her survivor benefits during the few months between their divorce and his death. On appeal, the Federal Circuit reversed the Board’s denial of survivor benefits. This is our opinion summary.

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Argument Recap / Panel Activity

Argument Recap – Milton v. United States

Earlier this month the Federal Circuit heard oral argument in Milton v. United States, a case arising from the Court of Federal Claims. We have been following this case because it attracted an amicus brief. In this case, 150 plaintiffs are appealing a grant of summary judgment for the United States. These plaintiffs-appellants have asserted takings claims against the federal government based on properties that were flooded as a result of government action when the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs released water during Hurricane Harvey. The amicus brief was filed by 205 other plaintiffs with similar cases that have been stayed by the Court of Federal Claims. Judges Lourie, Chen, and Cunningham heard the argument. This is our argument recap.

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Argument Recap / Panel Activity

Argument Recap – SAS Institute, Inc. v. World Programming Ltd.

A Federal Circuit panel heard oral argument earlier this month in SAS Institute Inc. v. World Programming Ltd., a copyright case originally filed in the Eastern District of Texas. We have been following this case because it attracted ten amicus briefs, six in support of SAS and four in support of WPL. In this case, SAS appeals a decision by the district court dismissing its claim of copyright infringement by WPL. SAS contends the district court incorrectly analyzed the copyrightability of a computer program and improperly excluded relevant witness testimony. Judges Newman, Reyna, and Wallach heard the oral argument. This is our argument recap.

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Panel Activity

Update on Important Panel Activity

Here is this month’s update on activity in cases pending before panels of the Federal Circuit where the cases involve at least one amicus brief. We keep track of these cases in the “Other Cases” section of our blog. Today, with respect to these cases we highlight an opinion in a tax case addressing subject matter jurisdiction and “duly filed” requirements, a new patent case about prosecution laches that attracted an amicus brief, and an upcoming oral argument in a case appealed from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. Here are the details.

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