Supreme Court Blotter: Kappos v. Hyatt

January 9, 2012

The Supreme Court is back to business Monday, January 9th. The court will hear 3 cases Perry v. Perez/Perry v. Davis, Kappos v. Hyatt and Sacket v. E.P.A. This post’s research covers Kappos.  Perry and Sacket posts are forthcoming.

Kappos v. Hyatt: Overview

In Hyatt v. Kappos, the Federal Circuit held that when a patent applicant files suit under 35 U.S.C. § 145, the only limitation on the admissibility of evidence for issues raised before the Patent Office are the Federal Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The citation to the Federal Circuit opinion is 625 F.3d 1320.

In this case the Director of the PTO argued that an applicant in a § 145 action can only present new evidence to the District Court if the evidence could not reasonably have been provided to the Patent Office. The Federal Circuit rejected this argument citing Butterworth v. Hoe (112 U.S. 50), “It is not a technical appeal from the patent-office, like that authorized in section 4911, confined to the case as made in the record of that office, but is prepared and heard upon all competent evidence adduced, and upon the whole merits.”

The Director also argued that allowing applicants to introduce new evidence would conflict with the doctrine that parties may not raise issues in the district court that were not raised before the Patent Office. The Federal Circuit rejected this argument as well and clarified that an applicant cannot raise new issues but can provide new evidence as to issues raised before the Patent Office.

The Federal Circuit identified two different standards of review for the District Court in a §145 action. The First applies in situations where the applicant does not introduce new evidence. In this instance, the court reviews the case on the administrative record and must apply the APA’s substantial evidence standard to the Patent Office findings of fact. Second, when the applicant does introduce new evidence, the district court is not limited to the administrative record, instead the court must make de novo findings of fact that relate to the new evidence.


Ronald Mann’s overview at SCOTUSblog notes…

The arguments of the parties are squarely drawn.  Although the parties argue at length about the state of the law at the time when the various predecessors to Section 145 were adopted and amended (the statute dates to 1839), the central debate really pits the language of the statute against considerations of institutional design.

We nevertheless spent some time finding the old statutes. The Federal Circuit opinion looks at the legislative history of 35 U.S.C.A. § 145 and discusses § 4915 of the Revised Statutes at length.  Section 4915 and other 145 predecessors can be found in the US-STATLRG database.   For example, we found 44 Stat. 1335 by searching for,  patent and da(1927).  Searching clues can be found under the Historical and Statutory Notes at 35 USCA 145.

The Supreme Court has granted certiorari and hears oral arguments on Monday, January 9th. The Petition for Writ of Cert can be found at 2011 WL 1336431.

To read the briefs filed in this case run this search in the SCT-BRIEF database: ti(kappos & hyatt) or, find the link for filings links at the case from the Federal Circuit opinion.

The transcript will be available soon after the oral argument, to access that you can go to the Transcripts of the U.S. Supreme Court Oral Arguments database (SCT-ORALARG) and enter Kappos in one party name box and Hyatt in the other party name box. We’ll also update this post when the citation becomes available. [Update: Oral Arguments Transcript is here: 2012 WL 38640]

If you would like to be alerted when the Supreme Court’s decision comes out, set up a WestClip with this as your query: ti(kappos & hyatt) in the SCT database. The steps for setting up a WestClip are available here: Westlaw Quick Reference Guide: Using Westclip (pdf).