Federal Circuit Affirmed Half of Patent Case Appeals Heard in April Without Opinion

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By Tony Dutra

April 22 — An apparent anomaly—three patent cases heard by a Federal Circuit panel on April 6 and all decided on April 8 by Rule 36 affirmance without opinion—doesn't seem so random in light of the court's larger record during that time frame.

A second panel of three different judges heard three patent cases on April 10 and disposed of all three under Rule 36 on April 17.

The court's full schedule for the week included 55 oral arguments in cases running the court's jurisdictional gamut. As of April 17, the court had already decided 25 of those cases under Rule 36. That compares with 14 cases similarly disposed from the court's caseload a year ago.

This month's quick dispositions were particularly pronounced for cases coming from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board—15 out of the 23 cases heard. Another 21 appeals came from district courts, all appearing to be patent cases, with seven of those affirmed via Rule 36.

Of the total 22 patent-related Rule 36 dispositions, 15 different three-judge panels heard the cases, and 13 of them issued at least one affirmance without opinion. Chief Judge Sharon Prost and Judge Alvin A. Schall were members of both of the panels that did not.

Ten of the 11 active members of the court served on panels. Each signed onto at least three Rule 36 decisions. Judge Kimberly A. Moore did not participate in any April panels.

As observers noted previously, the PTAB figures are not surprising, as the court's caseload of appeals from decisions on post-grant oppositions is set to increase dramatically, offering little time for detailed opinions on every appeal.

One additional case was submitted to an April panel on the briefing, without argument. The court issued a six-page nonprecedential opinion in that case on April 13.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Dutra in Washington at adutra@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom P. Taylor at ttaylor@bna.com