Justia International Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Comcast Corp. v. International Trade Commission
The International Trade Commission (ITC) investigated a complaint under Tariff Act Section 337, alleging that Comcast’s customers directly infringe patents by using Comcast’s X1 system. The patents claim an interactive television program guide system for remote access to television programs. An ALJ found a violation, concluding that the X1 set-top boxes are imported by ARRIS and Technicolor and that Comcast is sufficiently involved with the design, manufacture, and importation of the products, such that it is an importer under Section 337. The ITC affirmed, stating that Comcast induced infringement and that Comcast "instructs, directs, or advises its customers on how to carry out direct infringement.” The ITC affirmed that ARRIS and Technicolor do not directly infringe because they do not provide a “remote access device” as required by the claims and do not contributorily infringe because the set-top boxes have substantial non-infringing uses. The ITC issued a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders directed to Comcast. The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Comcast’s arguments that its conduct is not actionable under Section 337 because Comcast’s inducing conduct “takes place entirely domestically, well after, and unrelated to," the importation and that Comcast does not itself import the articles. The ITC has authority (19 U.S.C. 1337(d)(1)) to issue an exclusion order that blocks the importation of articles manufactured and imported by ARRIS and Technicolor, despite its determination that they did not violate Section 337 and did not infringe the patents. View "Comcast Corp. v. International Trade Commission" on Justia Law
Genetic Veterinary Sciences, Inc. v. LABOKLIN GMBH & Co. KG
The University, an agent or instrumentality of the Swiss Confederation, having a place of business in Bern, Switzerland, granted an exclusive license of its 114 patent to the German company LABOKLIN, whose principal place of business is in Bad Kissingen, Germany. Under the License Agreement, LABOKLIN was required to commercialize the invention in North America. LABOKLIN entered into sublicenses in the U.S. PPG, a corporation headquartered in Washington State, offers laboratory services. After obtaining the University’s consent, LABOKLIN sent a cease-and-desist letter to PPG in Spokane, Washington. PPG sued LABOKLIN and the University, requesting a declaratory judgment that the Asserted Claims of the 114 patent are ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 for failing to claim patent-eligible subject matter. The Federal Circuit affirmed that the district court had jurisdiction over both LABOKLIN and the University. LABOKLIN had sufficient minimum contacts with the U.S. to comport with due process; the University, a foreign sovereign in the U.S., had engaged in “commercial activity” sufficient to trigger an exception to jurisdictional immunity under 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(2) by “obtain[ing] a patent and then threaten[ing] PPG by proxy with litigation.” PPG had stipulated to infringement of the Asserted Claims; the courts found those Claims patent-ineligible as directed to patent-ineligible subject matter, namely the discovery of the genetic mutation that is linked to HNPK. View "Genetic Veterinary Sciences, Inc. v. LABOKLIN GMBH & Co. KG" on Justia Law
Virgin Islands Port Authority v. United States
The Virgin Islands is a U.S. territory that can set and receive proceeds from duties, Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) is authorized to “determine, fix, alter, charge, and collect reasonable rates, fees, rentals, ship’s dues and other charges.” Since 1968, VIPA has set wharfage and tonnage fees for Virgin Islands ports. Customs collected those fees from 1969-2011, deducting its costs. The remaining funds were transferred to VIPA. In 1994, the Virgin Islands and Customs agreed to “the methodology for determining the costs chargeable to [the Virgin Islands] . . . for operating various [Customs] activities.” The agreement cited 48 U.S.C. 1469c, which provides: To the extent practicable, services, facilities, and equipment of agencies and instrumentalities of the United States Government may be made available, on a reimbursable basis, to the governments of the territories and possessions of the United States. Customs increased collection costs, which outpaced the collection of the disputed fees starting in 2004, leaving VIPA without any proceeds. After failed efforts to resolve the issue, VIPA notified Customs in February 2011, that VIPA would start to collect the fees in March 2011. VIPA sued Customs to recover approximately $ 10 million in disputed fees that Customs collected from February 2008 to March 1, 2011. The Federal Circuit affirmed a judgment in favor of Customs. Customs had authority to collect the disputed fees during the time at issue under the 1994 agreement, in combination with 48 U.S.C. 1469c. View "Virgin Islands Port Authority v. United States" on Justia Law
Maxchief Investments Ltd. v. Wok & Pan, Ind., Inc.
Maxchief has its principal place of business in China and distributes one of the plastic tables it manufactures (UT-18) exclusively through Meco, which is located in Tennessee. Meco sells the UT-18 tables to retailers. Wok competes with Maxchief in the market for plastic folding tables, and also has its principal place of business in China. Wok owns patents directed to folding tables. Wok sued Maxchief’s customer, Staples, in the Central District of California, alleging that Staples’ sale of Maxchief’s UT-18 table infringed the Wok patents. Staples requested that Meco defend and indemnify Staples. Meco requested that Maxchief defend and indemnify Meco and Staples. The Staples action is stayed pending the outcome of this case. Maxchief then sued Wok in the Eastern District of Tennessee, seeking declarations of non-infringement or invalidity of all claims of the Wok patents and alleging tortious interference with business relations under Tennessee state law. The district court dismissed the declaratory judgment claim for lack of personal jurisdiction. With respect to the state law tortious interference claim, the district court concluded it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Wok lacked sufficient contacts with the forum state of Tennessee for personal jurisdiction as to both the declaratory judgment claim and the tortious interference claim. View "Maxchief Investments Ltd. v. Wok & Pan, Ind., Inc." on Justia Law
In re: HTC Corp.
Plaintiffs filed a patent infringement suit in the District of Delaware against HTC, a Taiwanese corporation with its principal place of business in Taiwan, and its wholly owned U.S. based subsidiary, HTC America, a Washington corporation with its principal place of business in Seattle. HTC and HTC America moved to dismiss for improper venue or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the Western District of Washington pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) or 1406(a). The district court found that venue was not proper as to HTC America but was proper as to HTC. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their suit against HTC America without prejudice. HTC filed a mandamus petition seeking dismissal for improper venue. The Federal Circuit denied relief, rejecting HTC’s attempts to characterize the legal issue as “unsettled.” Suits against alien defendants are outside the operation of the federal venue laws. View "In re: HTC Corp." on Justia Law
Alimanesianu v. United States
Alimanestianu, a U.S. citizen, was killed in the 1989 bombing of Flight 772 by the Abu Nidal Organization. The State Department determined that the Libyan government sponsored the bombing. Libya was protected from suit in the U.S. under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA); in 1996, FSIA was amended to permit claims for personal injury or death caused by acts of foreign sovereigns designated as state sponsors of terrorism, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(7). Libya had been designated in 1979. In 2002, the Alimanestianus and others sued Libya and obtained summary judgment in 2008, awarding $6.9 billion in total; the Alimanestianus received $1.297 billion. While the defendants appealed, the United States entered into a Claims Settlement Agreement with Libya. Libya agreed to deposit $1.5 billion into a humanitarian fund, $681 million of which was for claims by U.S. nationals for wrongful death or physical injury in pending case as “a full and final settlement.” The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission subsequently awarded the Alimanestianus $10 million. The Federal Circuit rejected a claim that vacating their judgment constituted a compensable taking. The court considered the Penn Central factors: the Executive has an overwhelming interest in conducting foreign affairs; the plaintiffs have no evidence that they had an investment-backed expectation in their claims and nonfinal judgment; plaintiffs’ claim that the Commission’s award was less than their nonfinal judgment does not refute that they received more than they would have without government action. View "Alimanesianu v. United States" on Justia Law
Aviation & General Isurance Co., Ltd. v. United States
In 1985, EgyptAir Flight 648 was hijacked by terrorists, who killed passengers and destroyed the aircraft. The U.S. State Department determined that the terrorists received support from the Libyan government. In 1988, a Libyan Intelligence Service agent detonated explosives on Pan Am Flight 103, killing 270 people and destroying the aircraft. Insurers paid $97 million in claims. Libya was shielded by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1604, before enactment of the 1996 State Sponsors of Terrorism Exception to FSIA, 28 U.S.C. 1605(a)(7). The insurers sued, asserting their insurance subrogation rights. While those claims were pending, President Bush negotiated a settlement with Libya, The U.S. agreed to terminate pending lawsuits; Libya paid the government $1.5 billion, which funded the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. The Libyan Claims Resolution Act, 122 Stat. 2999, provides that Libya shall not be subject to the FSIA exceptions. The insurers’ suit was dismissed. Some of the insurers submitted claims with the Commission, which were denied because of a rule requiring that claimants be U.S. nationals from the date of injury to the date of the espousal of their claims by the U.S. They then sued, alleging that the government took their property without just compensation. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the government. The insurers “cannot claim an investment-backed expectation free of government involvement nor can they characterize the Government’s action as novel or unexpected.” View "Aviation & General Isurance Co., Ltd. v. United States" on Justia Law
Glycine & More, Inc. v. United States
A U.S. Department of Commerce regulation states: “The Secretary will rescind an administrative review ... if a party that requested a review withdraws the request within 90 days of the date of publication of notice ... The Secretary may extend this time limit if the Secretary decides that it is reasonable to do so,” 19 C.F.R. 351.213(d)(1). In 2011, Commerce announced in a published guidance document that parties seeking untimely withdrawals would no longer be able to get an extension based on what might be reasonable under the circumstances in light of the concerns previously identified and employed by Commerce, but would have to demonstrate the existence of an “extraordinary circumstance.” Commerce applied the 2011 guidance in the Glycine case. The Court of International Trade remanded, invalidating the change in methodology. Commerce, under protest, extended the deadline for Glycine to withdraw its request for administrative review of an antidumping order and rescinded the review. The Trade Court and Federal Circuit affirmed. Since the 2011 Notice was intended to effectively rewrite the substantive meaning of the regulation without going through the necessary notice-and-comment rulemaking, it has no legal standing. The Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 551, does not permit amendment of an agency regulation, previously adopted by formal notice-and-comment rulemaking procedure, by a guidance document that is not so enacted. View "Glycine & More, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law
Allied Mineral Products, Inc. v. OSMI, Inc.
Stellar and Allied are American companies. Stellar sent Allied's Mexican distributors notice letters accusing them of infringing Stellar’s Mexican Patent. Allied manufactures the accused products in the U.S., which are then sold in Mexico by the distributors. Allied sells the same product in the U.S. under a different name. Allied’s U.S. counsel responded to Stellar’s notice letters on behalf of the distributors, arguing that the products did not infringe. Stellar did not respond but filed infringement actions in Mexico. Allied then sought a declaratory judgment against Stellar in the Southern District of Florida, of non-infringement, invalidity, unenforceability due to inequitable conduct, and tortious interference with business relationships. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, stating: “Stellar’s decision to enforce its Mexican patent under Mexican law against separate entities cannot, without further affirmative action by Stellar, create an actual controversy with Allied with regard to its U.S. Patent,” and that the complaint was “devoid of any allegations that Stellar has done anything to give Allied a reasonable belief that Stellar intends to enforce its 974 Patent in the United States.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. Stellar’s actions do not create a justiciable case or controversy. View "Allied Mineral Products, Inc. v. OSMI, Inc." on Justia Law