Federal Circuit En Banc Patent Decisions

By Jason Rantanen

A few weeks ago a commenter asked about a list of Federal Circuit en banc patent law decisions.  Despite the seeming importance of such a list, I was unable to find one through either online searching or consulting my favorite treatises.  After sorting through several sources, however, I was able to assemble the following list.  While a handful of the opinions are of limited substance, the bulk of the list consists of seminal patent rulings.  Note that this is only a first pass, and any corrections are welcome.

  1. Hyatt v. Kappos, 625 F.3d 1320 (Fed. Cir. 2010 (en banc)
  2. Princo Corp. v. Int'l Trade Comm'n, 616 F.3d 1318 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (en banc)
  3. Ariad Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Eli Lilly and Co., 598 F.3d 1336 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (en banc)
  4. Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc. v. St. Jude Med., Inc., 576 F.3d 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (en banc in part)
  5. Abbott Laboratories v. Sandoz, Inc., 566 F.3d 1282 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (en banc in part)
  6. Tafas v. Doll, 559 F.3d 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (en banc)
  7. In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc)
  8. Egyptian Goddess, Inc. v. Swisa, Inc., 543 F.3d 665 (Fed. Cir. 2008) (en banc)
  9. In re Seagate Tech., LLC, 497 F. 3d 1360 ( Fed. Cir. 2007) (en banc)
  10. DSU Med. Corp. v. JMS Co., 471 F.3d 1293 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (en banc in part)
  11. SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Apotex Corp., 453 F.3d 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (en banc)
  12. Phillips v. AWH Corp., 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc);
  13. Knorr-Bremse Systeme Fuer Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH v. Dana Corp., 383 F.3d 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (en banc)
  14. Honeywell Int'l Inc. v. Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., 370 F.3d 1131 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (en banc)
  15. Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., Ltd., 344 F.3d 1359 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (en banc)
  16. Johnson & Johnston Assocs. Inc. v. R.E. Serv. Co., 285 F.3d 1046 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (en banc)
  17. Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., 234 F.3d 558 (Fed. Cir. 2000) (en banc)
  18. Midwest Indus., Inc. v. Karavan Trailers, Inc., 175 F.3d 1356 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (en banc)
  19. Nobelpharma Ab v. Implant Innovations, 141 F.3d 1059 (1998) (en banc in part)
  20. Cybor Corp. v. FAS Techs., Inc., 138 F.3d 1448 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (en banc)
  21. In re Zurko, 142 F.3d 1447 (Fed. Cir. 1998) (en banc)
  22. Hilton Davis Chem. Co. v. Warner-Jenkinson Co., 114 F.3d 1161 (Fed. Cir. 1997) (en banc)
  23. Hilton Davis Chem. Co. v. Warner-Jenkinson Co., 62 F.3d 1512 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc)
  24. In re Trovato, 60 F.3d 807 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc)
  25. Rite-Hite Corp. v. Kelley Co., 56 F.3d 1538 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc)
  26. Markman v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc)
  27. In re Alappat, 33 F.3d 1526 (Fed. Cir. 1994) (en banc)
  28. In re Donaldson Co., 16 F.3d 1189 (Fed. Cir. 1994) (en banc)
  29. A.C. Aukerman Co. v. R.L. Chaides Constr. Co., 960 F.2d 1020 (Fed. Cir. 1992) (en banc)
  30. In re Dillon, 919 F.2d 688 (Fed. Cir. 1990) (en banc)
  31. Beatrice Foods Co. v. New England Printing & Lithographing Co., 899 F.2d 1171 (Fed. Cir. 1990) (en banc)
  32. Aerojet-Gen. Corp. v. Mach. Tool Works,  Oerlikon-Buehrle Ltd., 895 F.2d 736 (Fed. Cir. 1990) (en banc)
  33. Racing Strollers, Inc. v. TRI Indus., Inc., 878 F.2d 1418 (Fed. Cir. 1989) (en banc)
  34. Gavin v. Star Brite Corp.,865 F.2d 269 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (en banc) (nonprecedential)
  35. Kingsdown Med. Consultants, Ltd. v. Hollister, Inc., 863 F.2d 867 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (en banc)
  36. In re Roberts, 846 F.2d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 1988) (en banc)
  37. Pennwalt Corp. v. Durand-Wayland, Inc., 833 F.2d 931 (Fed. Cir. 1987) (en banc)
  38. Woodard v. Sage Prods., Inc., 818 F.2d 841 (Fed. Cir. 1987) (en banc)
  39. Wyden v. Comm'r of Patents & Trademarks, 807 F.2d 934 (Fed. Cir. 1986) (en banc)
  40. SRI Int'l v. Matsushita Elec. Corp., 775 F.2d 1107 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (en banc)
  41. In re Bennett, 766 F.2d 524 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (en banc)
  42. Paulik v. Rizkalla, 760 F.2d 1270 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (en banc)
  43. In re Etter, 756 F.2d 852 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (en banc)
  44. Atari, Inc. v. JS & A Group, Inc., 747 F.2d 1422 (Fed. Cir. 1984) (en banc)
  45. Gardner v. TEC Systems, Inc., 725 F.2d 1338 (Fed. Cir. 1984) (en banc)
  46. South Corp. v. U.S., 690 F. 2d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1982) (en banc)

Sources: Chisum on Patents; Lee Petherbridge, "Patent Law Uniformity," 22 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 421 (2009); WESTLAW.  Those interested in further reading on en banc Federal Circuit decisions may want to check out Christopher Cotropia's article "Determining Uniformity Within the Federal Circuit By Measuring Dissent and En Banc Review," 43 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 801 (2010).

Update: Shortly after publishing this post, I learned that Professor Ryan Vacca at the University of Akron School of Law has drafted an article on the Federal Circuit's en banc practice, which he recently presented at the Missouri Law Review Symposium.  Professor Vacca argues that these practices make the court look much like that of an administrative agency engaging in substantive rulemaking, a role that he suggests is beneficial in shaping patent policy as a whole.  Along with the substantive analysis, the article includes an appendix listing the court's en banc decisions.  A draft of the piece, entitled "Acting Like an Administrative Agency: The Federal Circuit En Banc" is available on ssrn, and I recommend that anyone interested in the CAFC's en banc practices should take a look at it.

13 thoughts on “Federal Circuit En Banc Patent Decisions

  1. Not to be picky, but it’s South Corp., not Deep South Corp. You’re probably thinking of Deepsouth Packing Co. [v. Laitram Corp.]

    The other goofy trivia about this case: For a brief while, the Federal Circuit published its own official reporter. The cross-cite for this case in those volumes is 1 Fed. Cir. 1 — but you won’t find those volumes in many law libraries.

  2. Peter – that’s a good addition to the list. My goal in putting this together was to capture all the Fed Cir en banc cases that someone interested in patent law might want to be aware of. And that’s certainly one of them.

  3. Fair enough. I only skimmed the article and perhaps that’s the reason for it, but it wasn’t clear to me that the article was meant to discuss only en banc cases addressing issues of substantive patent law. The title of the appendix and much of the discussion seem to suggest a broader scope.

  4. Although not a patent case on the merits, I’ve always thought one of the most important en banc patent decisions of the Federal Circuit was their very first decision in 1982–South Corp. v. U.S. (690 F. 2d 1368), where they adopted Court of Claims and CCPA decisions as precedent on all issues. The CCPA always sat en banc and therefore their most recent decision on any issue was always controlling. The Federal Circuit, of course, is, well, different.

  5. “Professor Ryan Vacca at the University of Arkon School of Law has drafted an article …”

    Cool! But exactly where is the University of Arkon?

  6. I did find Midwest in my search, but decided to leave it off of my list as I considered Midwest to be more of a trademark, not patent case (the nonpatent causes of action were appealed). I also excluded Wyden and In re Roberts from my list because they arguably weren’t deciding more substantive issues of patent law, which is the focus of my article.

    I’ve gone back and forth on whether to include these 3 cases and certainly welcome any comments or arguments as to why I should include them.

    I think Midwest is the strongest for inclusion as it deals with patent preemption, but the actual issue decided en banc was whether the Federal Circuit should apply its own law or the law of the regional circuits.

  7. Prof. Vacca’s article is weak. It seems to misunderstand both Agency activity and the appellate level of the CAFC.

    I lost the link to the Good Doc’s website (Patent Doc) wherein he was discussing the tendency to write papers with answers to non-problems. I guess the academics need to publish or perish, but one would hope that the premise at elast makes sense. Vacca’s does not.

  8. No. 18 Midwest seems to be missing from Vacca’s list. I hope the article isn’t final yet.

  9. There are some “oldie but goodie” cases listed there. Reading the list is sort of like reliving most of my patent career.

  10. Jason – Two more that Professor Vacca (Akron) has written about are Gardner v. TEC Systems, Inc., 725 F.2d 1338 (Fed. Cir. 1984) and Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc. v. St. Jude Med., Inc., 576 F.3d 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (holding that held that § 271(f) does not extend to method patents).

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