Talk:United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

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Article improvement[edit]

Alright, so in comparison to the SCOTUS article and perhaps even the 9th Cir. article, this one is still lacking. As a starter for increasing the subject coverage of the article, I want to add sections on:

  • Federal Circuit local rules/procedure (on the lines of the SCOTUS procedure section)
  • Patent law treatment in the Federal Circuit since the buck usually stops here for patent cases
  • Controversy/criticism - there's plenty that can go here, can probably start with all the claims of excessive formalism and "tests"

Anyone else have more ideas? Cquan (after the beep...) 22:19, 26 March 2009 (UTC) >> History of the patent jurisdictionshould be added. Pre-formation (1982) anti-patent climate of the numbered circuits favoring antitrust principles over those facilitating technological innovation being superseded by a pro-innovation viewpoint. Led to Congress removing patent litigation appeals from them in favor of a centralized CAFC. And since then, where has patent jurisprudence been and, here's where some of the controversy comes in, where are we today? CyberspaceLawyer (talk) 00:19, 13 July 2009 (UTC)


"[The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit] hears almost all appeals relating to patents from any of the United States District Courts."

To my understanding, all appeals in patent cases were referred to the Federal Circuit, but it seems I am wrong. Can somebody explain the word "almost"? Is there another available appeal procedure? Thanks. --Edcolins 08:13, Mar 24, 2005 (UTC)

The only exception I know is these "non-patent" patent cases. If you fail to pay the license fee, the patentee may sue you in a district court and the case goes to an appeal court. If the patentee dies, any dispute over who's going to have the patent's title will also be appealed to an appeal court. -- Toytoy 09:13, Mar 24, 2005 (UTC)
According to the Federal Judicial Center website,
In the approved act, Congress extended the jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit to … all appeals related to patents.
I am therefore removing the word "almost". — DLJessup 15:51, 24 Mar 2005 (UTC)
So in cases where patent entitlement is at stake, is the Fed. Cir. also the competent appeal court? --Edcolins 21:16, Mar 24, 2005 (UTC)

I think this is not quite right. A Supreme Court ruling a few years ago held that the statute giving the Fed Cir jurisdiction over patent claims only applied when the patent claim was part of the plaintiff's well pleaded complaint, not when the patent issue was injected in the defendant's answer or counterclaim. Thus, some patent issues are still decided by the geographic circuits on appeal. 06:15, 22 January 2006 (UTC)


OK, a few inconsistencies:

  • Larramore does not appear to have a seat.
  • According to the FJC, the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982 created a Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit with a total of 12 seats: 5 from the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and 7 from the Court of Claims. Yet the FJC also claims that Bissell was appointed to fill a seat created by the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982.

My theory:

At the time of the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982, there were 6 permanent seats and 1 temporary seat on the Court of Claims. Larramore occupied the temporary seat. When the FCIA of 1982 was passed, it established 12 permanent seats. Larramore's temporary seat was reassigned as a temporary seat of the CoA for the Fed. Circuit. 7 judges but only 6 seats were transferred from the Court of Claims.

It'd be a lovely thing to verify this theory, but I'd need access to the FCIA of 1982 and to the Senate Record for Larramore's confirmation.

DLJessup 01:46, 30 May 2005 (UTC)

My theory is that Laramore took senior status before 1982, so he never occupied one of the twelve seats. FJC says that he was born in 1906 and was appointed to the Court of Claims in 1954, so he certainly would have been eligible for senior status long before 1982. Arnold Cowen Wilson (born 1905) took senior status in 1977 and still is listed as a senior judge on Fed Cir, but he did not occupy a seat. Trouble is that FJC does not indicate that Laramore ever took senior status. In any event, nobody "replaced" him on the Fed Cir bench when he died or at any time prior. --PrinceValium 03:00, 30 May 2005 (UTC)
Laramore went senior in 1972 fjc more complete biography NoSeptember 01:10, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Article III appellate court[edit]

I am lost. What is an "Article III appellate court"? What is an "Article III tribunal" (is it another name for an "Article III appellate court")? What is an "Article I tribunal"? It could be interesting to develop this a little bit further in the article for newbies like me. Cheers. --Edcolins 07:19, Jun 20, 2005 (UTC)

Don't have the time to reply right now. Check the Black's Law Dictionary! -- Toytoy 07:47, Jun 20, 2005 (UTC)

Article I court.

  1. See legislative court under COURT.
  2. A type of federal legislative court that is not bound by the requirements of or protected under U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, and that performs functions similar to those of an administrative agency, such as issuing advisory opinions. U.S. Const. art. I, § 8. Cf. article III court.
Congress also has the power, within certain limits, to create what are called ... Article I tribunals ... . These Article I tribunals are really akin to administrative agencies; that is, the 'judges' do not have any constitutionally guaranteed lifetime tenure and protection from salary diminution; they are not governed by the case or controversy limitation of Article III .... At the present time, Article I courts include territorial courts, certain courts in the District of Columbia, courts martial, and legislative courts and administrative agencies that adjudicate 'public rights.' John E. Nowak & Ronald D. Rotunda, Constitutional Law 22- 23 (4th ed. 1991).

Article III Court. A federal court that, deriving its jurisdiction from U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, hears cases arising under the Constitution and the laws and treaties of the United States, cases in which the United States is a party, and cases between the states and between citizens of different states. -- Also termed constitutional court. Cf. ARTICLE I COURT. [Cases: Federal Courts Key Number graphic1.1.]

The above two copyrighted definitions are from the Black's Law Dictionary 8th ed. Fair use! BLD is the best legal dictionary in the world! Please buy yourself a copy like me! Just don't sue me please! -- Toytoy 07:55, Jun 20, 2005 (UTC)

A few quick comments:
  • First, the passage that caused all the confusion for Edcolins has been replaced by a much less confusing one based on the fact that the U.S. Appeals Court for the Armed Forces is not attached to a judicial circuit.
  • Second, if anybody would like to help out, I've started a stub article on the Article I/III distinction governing federal tribunals.
DLJessup 00:49, 24 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I don't understand why the U.S. District Courts are not included in the list of Article III tribunals from which the Federal Circuit hears appeals. Yes, the U.S. Court of International Trade is one; but (as the article goes on almost immediately to explain) the Fed Circuit does hear appeals from District Courts in patent cases. Shouldn't the U.S. District Courts be included on the list of Article III tribunals? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Patent cases[edit]

Fact: Most patent cases do not go to the Supreme Court. Patent cases usually stop here.

Yes, it is widely known that the U.S. Supreme Court justices are not selected for their understanding of technologies and patent law. But they do want some good reasons to deny patent cases, don't they?

Does it mean patent cases, despite of being a constitutional right, seldom involve with actual constitutional issues? (I don't think so.) -- Toytoy July 4, 2005 02:14 (UTC)

I'm not sure how to decipher your message. But let me take a stab at it:
  • The Supreme Court most commonly grants certiorari when two or more circuit courts disagree on a point of law (a "circuit split"). Because the Fed. Cir. is assigned cases by subject matter, rather than by geographic region like the other circuits, the likelihood for a circuit split in patent cases is extremely low. As a result, the vast majority of Fed. Cir. decisions bind district courts nationwide, and it is generally considered a court of last resort. The Supreme Court will issue a writ of cert to the Federal Circuit only when it appears that the court got it completely wrong (and even then, en banc review is likely to correct a panel's error).
  • As you indicate, the hypertechnical nature of many patent cases is frustrated by the conventional litigation process. Many district courts will assign special masters, typically IP attorneys, to act as referees for certain issues in patent infringement cases. This is another reason for the Supreme Court to stay out of the issue. When it does get involved, the Court provides broad guidance in interpreting the patent laws rather than lays down specific technical rules. See, e.g., Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303 (1980) (holding that living organisms are patentable).
  • Your comment seems to indicate that the Supreme Court only decides constitutional issues. This is not the case. While many important cases involve constitutional issues such as due process, equal protection, and the First Amendment, many others involve interpretations of key statutes in the areas of immigration law, copyright, environmental, and commercial law. For instance, in the term that just ended (PDF), the Court interpreted portions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), etc. Most of these cases resolved circuit splits.
--Saucy Intruder 4 July 2005 03:05 (UTC)
I guess this comment is superseded now by Supreme Court decisions like Bilski v. Kappos in 2010 and Mayo v. Prometheus in 2012. These decisions actually show that an (alleged) lack of technical background is no obstacle for the Supreme Court to say sensible things about patents. The role of the Supreme Court is not to improve the CAFC on fine details but to challenge basic premises, like the often repeated perception that Cogress basically wanted "anything under the sun made by man" to be patentable. The Supreme Court noted only in 2010 that, read in context, Congress said exactly the opposite. Rbakels (talk) 06:00, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Table standardization[edit]

Please note and contribute to this discussion. Billyboy01 (talk) 23:13, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Missing: CAFC vs. CCPA summary[edit]

It would be helpful if the article would summarise the essence of the difference between the CAFC and its predecessor the CCPA in patent cases. I guess the CCPA only dealt with appeals in the grant phase while the CCPA handles (nearly) all patent appeals, but I am not sure. Rbakels (talk) 06:21, 15 July 2012 (UTC)