Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

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Rumsey, a Department of Justice employee, protested grant-making decisions and ultimately went to the media and members of Congress and filed a complaint with the Inspector General, alleging fraud. Her efforts resulted in corrective action. Rumsey alleged that the agency subsequently gave her improperly low performance ratings, moved some of her job duties to other employees, and canceled her telework agreement. She prevailed in an individual right of action appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board, alleging whistleblower reprisal. Rumsey sought attorney’s fees under 5 U.S.C. 1221(g)(1)(B). At the time of that request, Rumsey and Slavet, one of the three lawyers that represented Rumsey during the Board proceedings, were in fee dispute before the District of Columbia Bar, Attorney/Client Arbitration Board. Rumsey “distanced herself from Slavet,” who had been Rumsey’s principal lawyer before and during the initial hearing before the administrative judge. The AJ had previously awarded sanctions based on Slavet’s failure to respond to discovery requests. The Board affirmed the AJ’s refusal to award attorney’s fees for Slavet’s services. Slavet and Rumsey settled their fee dispute, agreeing that Rumsey would pay $120,000 of the $145,445 sought by Slavet. The Federal Circuit reversed. Rumsey carried her burden of showing entitlement to some award of attorney’s fees. View "Rumsey v. Department of Justice" on Justia Law

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AdjustaCam’s patent, which issued in 1999, discloses a camera clip that supports a camera both on a flat surface and when attached to a computer monitor. AdjutaCam’s infringement litigation against Newegg included a Markman order, indicating that AdjustaCam's suit was baseless, and extended expert discovery. Just before summary judgment briefing, AdjustaCam voluntarily dismissed its infringement claims against Newegg with prejudice. Newegg then sought attorneys’ fees under 35 U.S.C. 285. Following a remand in light of intervening Supreme Court precedent clarifying what constitutes an exceptional case, the district court again denied Newegg’s motion for fees. The Federal Circuit reversed. Based on the circumstances presented here, the wholesale reliance on the previous judge’s fact-finding was an abuse of discretion. The record points to this case as standing out from others with respect to the substantive strength of AdjustaCam’s litigating position. Where AdjustaCam may have filed a weak infringement lawsuit, accusing Newegg’s products of infringing the patent, AdjustaCam’s suit became baseless after the district court’s Markman order. View "AdjustaCam, LLC v. Newegg, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2001, Dr. Klingemann filed a patent application directed to a method of treating cancer by administering natural killer cells. After years of examination, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rejected the application on obviousness grounds. The Patent and Trial Appeal Board affirmed that rejection. Nantkwest, as assignee of the application, appealed to the district court under 35 U.S.C. 145, in lieu of an immediate appeal to the Federal Circuit 35 U.S.C. 145. The statute provides that the applicant must pay “[a]ll of the expenses of the proceeding,” “regardless of the outcome.” After prevailing in the district court, the USPTO sought to recover $111,696.39 in fees under section 145. Although the district court granted the USPTO’s expert fees, it denied its requested attorneys’ fees, citing the “American Rule,” under which litigants pay their own attorneys’ fees, win or lose, unless a statute or contract provides otherwise. The district court concluded that the “[a]ll expenses” provision of the statute was neither sufficiently specific nor explicit enough for the authorization of attorneys’ fees. The Federal Circuit reversed. Section 145 entitles the USPTO to compensation for the diversion of its resources in the defense of section 145 appeals. View "Nantkwest, Inc. v. Matal" on Justia Law

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The 555 patent relates to anti-theft tags that are attached to merchandise and deactivated when the goods are purchased. The accused tags are manufactured in Europe and imported into the U.S. Checkpoint brought an infringement suit. A jury found the patent not infringed, invalid, and unenforceable. The court found the case to be “exceptional” under 35 U.S.C. 285 because Checkpoint’s expert witness based his infringement opinion on an examination of tags that were manufactured by All–Tag in Switzerland, although the accused tags were manufactured in Belgium, and awarded the defendants $6.6 million in attorney fees, costs, and interest. On remand from the Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit instructed the district court "that tests or experiments on the actual accused products are not always necessary to prove infringement.” The district court again found the case exceptional, citing the same ground, and found Checkpoint’s pre-suit investigation, based on a European infringement verdict against All–Tag on a 555 patent counterpart and infringement opinions from counsel, inadequate because the opinions “were given years before filing.” The court cited Checkpoint’s “improper motivation.” The Federal Circuit reversed, noting that the tags tested by the expert were produced on the same machines that were transferred to Belgium. The claim of infringement was reasonable and the litigation was not brought in bad faith or with abusive tactics. View "Checkpoint Systems, Inc. v. All-Tag Security S.A." on Justia Law

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Rothschild alleged that ADS’s home security system infringed its 090 patent. Rothschild has filed numerous lawsuits against others alleging infringement of the 090 patent. ADS filed an answer and counterclaims and sent Rothschild an email alleging that the patent covered patent-ineligible subject matter (35 U.S.C. 1011) and that prior art anticipated claim 1 (35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1)). ADS offered to settle if Rothschild paid ADS $43,330 for attorney fees and costs. Rothschild rejected ADS’s offer. ADS moved for judgment on the pleadings, sending Rothschild an FRCP 11(c)(2) Safe Harbor Notice, with copies of a proposed Rule 11(b) motion for sanctions and prior art that purportedly anticipated the claim. Rothschild voluntarily moved to dismiss. ADS opposed and filed a cross-motion for attorney fees, arguing that Rothschild’s suit was objectively unreasonable because Rothschild knew or should have known that claim 1 covers patent-ineligible subject matter and was anticipated. The Federal Circuit reversed the holding that Rothschild had not engaged in conduct sufficient to make the litigation “exceptional” for purposes of section 285 attorney fees. Whether a party avoids or engages in sanctionable conduct under Rule 11(b) is not the appropriate benchmark; a court may award fees in the rare case in which a party’s unreasonable conduct—while not necessarily independently sanctionable—is so exceptional as to justify an award. View "Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, LLC v. Guardian Protection Services, Inc." on Justia Law