In parallel proceedings, Translogic won its patent infringement case in a jury trial against Hitachi (jury agreed that the claims were valid) and lost its BPAI reexamination appeal (BPAI found claims invalid). Both appeals reached the CAFC at roughly the same time and were decided the same day with the following holding:
- In re Translogic: BPAI affirmed; claims are obvious.
- Translogic v. Hitachi: Based wholly on the above decision, the jury verdict vacated because claims are obvious.
Translogic has now requested an en banc rehearing of this unusual pair of cases decisions:
Unlawful BPAI Composition: In a recent article, Professor John Duffy challenged the current process of appointing BPAI judges as unconstitutional. John F. Duffy, Are Administrative Patent Judges Unconstitutional? , 2007 Patently-O L.J. 21. The crux of the Duffy article is that these administrative judges must be appointed by either the head of the Commerce Department or the President. I.e., appointment of these officers by lower level offices, such as the under-secretary, is unconstitutional. Art. II, § 2, cl. 2. In Translogic’s favor, the Supreme Court has created “broad standing rules” that that do not require specific ‘injury’ due to botched appointment. Likewise, Translogic argues that court precedent provides standing despite a failure to raise this issue at the BPAI or in the original CAFC case. Professor Duffy’s article also found its way to Congress – HR 1908 would amend Section 6 of the Patent Act to require the Secretary of Commerce to appoint the BPAI members. Of course, this issue calls into question most recent BPAI decisions.
Antiretroactivity Doctrine: Of course, if the BPAI’s decision is vacated, the CAFC must then take a second look at its summary decision in the infringement case. Translogic also argues that the vacatur violates the Supreme Court’s “antiretroactivity doctrine.” Under that doctrine, later cancellation of an issued patent should not be used to overturn a prior jury verdict. Although in dicta, the Supreme Court spoke on this very issue — noting that “title to these moneys [damage awards] does not depend upon the patent, but upon . . . judgment of the court.” Moffitt v. Garr, 66 US 273 (1861). In any event, the patent is not invalid until the PTO issues a certificate of cancellation under 35 USC 307. Thus, the holding is at least severely premature.
Jury Trial and Reexamination: The 7th Amendment right to a jury trial also includes a right not to have a jury verdict reexamined by a Court except according to the rules of Common Law. Translogic’s argument here is that the CAFC decision violates this right because it nullifies the jury verdict “without applying any appellate standard of review, based solely on its affirmance of a Board decision that explicitly reexamined facts tried to the jury.”
- Thanks to Hal Wegner for noting this case in an email to the author.