By Dennis Crouch
Robert Bosch LLC v. Pylon Mfg. Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2012)
In a sua sponte order, the Federal Circuit has announced that case to be heard en banc to determine whether the appellate court has jurisdiction over a judgment on patent infringement liability in a bifurcated case even before issues of damages and willfulness have been adjudged. The en banc order highlights 28 U.S.C. § 1292(c)(2) as likely governing the case. That statute provides the Federal Circuit with:
exclusive jurisdiction … (2) of an appeal from a judgment in a civil action for patent infringement which would otherwise be appealable to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and is final except for an accounting.
The question on appeal is thus, whether the district court case is "final except for an accounting."
Current precedent is somewhat confused. In Majorette Toys (U.S.) Inc. v. Darda, Inc. U.S.A., 798 F.2d 1390 (Fed. Cir. 1996), the court arguably classified the calculation of attorney fees and court costs as "accounting" but did not place the principle damages award in that category. In a recent order, the Federal Circuit took a narrow interpretation of Majorette by refusing to hear an appeal of an attorney-sanction before the dollar value of the sanction had been set. Orenshteyn v. Citrix Systems, Inc., --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 3101666 (Fed. Cir. 2012). Judge Newman dissented in Orenshteyn – arguing that the sanction dollar value constituted "accounting" under the law. In Falana v. Kent State University, 669 F.3d 1349 (Fed. Cir. 2012), the court ruled that "the district court's exceptional case finding and award of attorney fees" were not properly before the court because the dollar values had not been calculated and those values were more than "accounting" under the statute. Falana was decided by Judges Linn, Reyna and Prost.
The en banc order raises two particular questions:
- Does 28 U.S.C. § 1292(c)(2) confer jurisdiction on this Court to entertain appeals from patent infringement liability determinations when a trial on damages has not yet occurred?
- Does 28 U.S.C. § 1292(c)(2) confer jurisdiction on this Court to entertain appeals from patent infringement liability determinations when willfulness issues are outstanding and remain undecided.
Briefs of amici curae may be filed without consent of the parties or leave of the court.