Federal Circuit Cases That Are Not So Complicated

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on April 26, 2019

Among the federal appeals courts, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals doesn't make many headlines.

After all, most of its decisions are not precedential. That, and they don't read like crime novels. They are overwhelmingly complex and technical because the Federal Circuit handles patent and trademark disputes. Even if you are an intellectual property attorney, chances are you missed many cases over the past few months. Here are a few that are not so complicated; they are about drugs and robots:

Purdue Pharma v. Iancu

Who doesn't like a story about drugs, even withorout sex or rock-and-roll? That's what's happening with Purdue Pharma, a pharmaceutical company in the eye of the storm also known as the "opioid epidemic." San Francisco is suing the company for pushing opioids on the public by misleading people about the addictive dangers of the prescription drugs. But that's not important in the Federal Circuit right now.

In the patent case, Purdue Pharma appealed a decision that found the companies patents "unpatentable as obvious." Affirmed.

In the Matter of Impax Laboratories, Inc.

The Impax case stands out because the Federal Trade Commission issued a press release about it. The commission ruled that Impax engaged in an illegal pay-for-delay, or "reverse payment."

Basically, the FTC said the company paid to block consumers' access to a lower-cost opioid -- a generic version of Endo Pharmaceuticals' pain reliever. It's not before the appeals court, but it might as well be.

The Federal Circuit is the only appeals court with nationwide subject-matter jurisdiction. In addition to intellectual property cases, the appeals court hears claims against the federal government including federal personnel, veterans' benefits, and public safety officers' benefits claims. It also takes appeals under a host of different statutes.

iRobot Corporation v. International Trade Commission

Robots have a way of making anything interesting. Just ask Siri, or watch  a cat on a Roomba.

iRobot makes the robotic vacuum cleaner, and filed a complaint alleging infringement of a Roomba patent. The International Trade Commission investigated, and concluded there was no infringement. The company appealed, but the Federal Circuit affirmed. It was a question about a signal that tells Roomba to start cleaning. Back in the day, it was called a button.

See? That was easy.

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