Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712

Patent (reexamination): Inter partes review: Art. III Court: Seventh Amendment:

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, 35 U. S. C. §100 et seq., establishes a process called “inter partes review.” Under that process, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is authorized to reconsider and to cancel an issued patent claim in limited circumstances. In this case, we address whether inter partes review violates Article III or the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution. We hold that it violates neither.
Over the last several decades, Congress has created administrative processes that authorize the PTO to reconsider and cancel patent claims that were wrongly issued. In 1980, Congress established “ex parte reexamination,” which still exists today. See Act To Amend the Patent and Trademark Laws, 35 U. S. C. §301 et seq. Ex parte re- examination permits “any person at any time” to “file a request for reexamination.” §302. If the Director determines that there is “a substantial new question of patent-ability” for “any claim of the patent,” the PTO can reexamine the patent. §§303(a), 304. The reexamination process follows the same procedures as the initial exami-nation. §305.
In 1999, Congress added a procedure called “inter partes reexamination.” See American Inventors Protection Act, §§4601–4608, 113 Stat. 1501A–567 to 1501A–572. Under this procedure, any person could file a request for reexamination. 35 U. S. C. §311(a) (2006 ed.). The Director would determine if the request raised “a substantial new question of patentability affecting any claim of the patent” and, if so, commence a reexamination. §§312(a), 313 (2006 ed.). The reexamination would follow the general procedures for initial examination, but would allow the third-party requester and the patent owner to participate in a limited manner by filing responses and replies. §§314(a), (b) (2006 ed.). Inter partes reexamination was phased out when the America Invents Act went into effect in 2012. See §6, 125 Stat. 299–305.
The America Invents Act replaced inter partes reexamination with inter partes review, the procedure at issue here. See id., at 299. Any person other than the patent owner can file a petition for inter partes review. 35 U. S. C. §311(a) (2012 ed.). The petition can request cancellation of “1 or more claims of a patent” on the grounds that the claim fails the novelty or nonobviousness standards for patentability. §311(b). The challenges must be made “only on the basis of prior art consisting of patents or printed publications.” Ibid. If a petition is filed, the patent owner has the right to file a preliminary response explaining why inter partes review should not be instituted. §313.
Once inter partes review is instituted, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board—an adjudicatory body within the PTO created to conduct inter partes review—examines the patent’s validity. See 35 U. S. C. §§6, 316(c).
A party dissatisfied with the Board’s decision can seek judicial review in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. §319.

Secondary authorities: Lemley, Why Do Juries Decide If Patents Are Valid? 99 Va. L. Rev. 1673, 1682, 1685–1686, and n. 52 (2013).

(U.S.S.C., April 24, 2018, Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712, J. Thomas)

La procédure dite "inter partes review" permet à un tiers, à des conditions limitées, de saisir le PTO d'une requête en reconsidération des revendications et en annulation partielle ou complète d'un brevet (35 U. S. C. §311(a) (2012 ed.)). Cette procédure n'est contraire ni à l'Art. III ni au Septième Amendement de la Constitution fédérale. Le tiers requérant peut invoquer que la solution technique n'est pas nouvelle, ou qu'elle est évidente. La décision rendue par le PTO peut être déférée devant la Cour d'appel pour le Circuit fédéral.
Une autre procédure, dite "ex parte reexamination" (35 U. S. C. §301 et seq.), permet également à un tiers de saisir le PTO d'une requête en reconsidération des revendications et en annulation partielle ou complète d'un brevet. La reconsidération suit les mêmes règles de procédure que celles applicables à l'examen initial.

Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC, Docket No. 16-499, J. Gorsuch, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment

Common law: Customary international law: Law of nations: Emer de Vattel

Adopting new causes of action may have been a “proper function for common-law courts,” but it is not appropriate “for federal tribunals” mindful of the limits of their constitutional authority. Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U. S. 275, 287 (2001).

The dissent claims that Congress’s decision to give federal courts “jurisdiction over claims based on ‘the law of nations,’” necessarily implies the authority to develop that law. That does not follow. Federal courts have jurisdiction over all kinds of cases—for example, those arising under the law of torts or contracts. Yet following our decision in Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U. S. 64 (1938), federal courts are generally no longer permitted to promulgate new federal common law causes of action in those areas. Id., at 75. I can see no reason to treat the law of nations differently. See Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, 542 U. S. 692, 744–746 (2004) (Scalia, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment).

You might wonder, for example, if the First Congress considered a “violation of the law of nations” to be a violation of, and thus “arise under,” federal law. But that does not seem likely. At the founding, the law of nations was considered a distinct “system of rules, deducible by natural reason, and established by universal consent among the civilized inhabitants of the world,” 4 Blackstone 66. While this Court has called international law “part of our law,” The Paquete Habana, 175 U. S. 677, 700 (1900), and a component of the “law of the land,” The Nereide, 9 Cranch 388, 423 (1815), that simply meant international law was no different than the law of torts or contracts—it was “part of the so-called general common law,” but not part of federal law. Sosa, 542 U. S., at 739–740 (opinion of Scalia, J.). See Bradley & Goldsmith, Customary International Law as Federal Common Law: A Critique of the Modern Position, 110 Harv. L. Rev. 815, 824, 849 850 (1997); see also Young, Sorting Out the Debate Over Customary International Law, 42 Va. J. Int’l L. 365, 374–375 (2002). The text of the Constitution appears to recognize just this distinction. Article I speaks of “Offences against the Law of Nations,” while both Article III and Article VI’s Supremacy Clause, which defines the scope of pre-emptive federal law, omit that phrase while referring to the “Laws of the United States.” Congress may act to bring provisions of international law into federal law, but they cannot find their way there on their own. “The law of nations is not embodied in any provision of the Constitution, nor in any treaty, act of Congress, or any authority, or commission derived from the United States.” Caperton v. Bowyer, 14 Wall. 216, 228 (1872).

(…) (As a leading treatise explained, a sovereign “ought not to suffer his subjects to molest the subjects of others, or to do them an injury, much less should he permit them audaciously to offend foreign powers.” E. de Vattel, 1 The Law of Nations, bk. II, §76, p. 145 (1760). Instead, the nation “ought to oblige the guilty to repair the damage, if that be possible, to inflict on him an exemplary punishment, or, in short, according to the nature of the case, and the circumstances attending it, to deliver him up to the offended state there to receive justice.” Ibid. A sovereign who “refuses to cause a reparation to be made of the damage caused by his subject, or to punish the guilty, or, in short, to deliver him up, renders himself in some measure an accomplice in the injury, and becomes responsible for it.” Id., §77, at 145).

(U.S.S.C., Apr. 24, 2018, Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC, Docket No. 16-499, J. Gorsuch, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment)

Dans la présente "concurring opinion", le Juge Gorsuch expose que l'adoption de nouvelles voies de droit était l'une des fonctions des cours de Common law, mais que tel n'est pas le cas des cours fédérales : depuis la décision Erie v. Tompkins rendue en 1938, les cours fédérales ne sont de manière générale plus autorisées à établir de nouvelles voies de droit dans le domaine contractuel ou délictuel.

Suit une citation de Emer de Vattel.

Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC, Docket No. 16-499

Alien Tort Statute: International law: Corporate responsibility: Common law liability: Separation of powers: Judicial deference: Jurisdiction: Human rights: Bivens:

Alien Tort Statute, commonly referred to as the ATS. See 28 U. S. C. §1350.

Petitioners contend that international and domestic laws impose responsibility and liability on a corporation if its human agents use the corporation to commit crimes in violation of international laws that protect human rights. The question here is whether the Judiciary has the authority, in an ATS action, to make that determination and then to enforce that liability in ATS suits, all without any explicit authorization from Congress to do so.

During the pendency of this litigation, there was an unrelated case that also implicated the issue whether the ATS is applicable to suits in this country against foreign corporations. See Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 621 F. 3d 111 (CA2 2010).

After additional briefing and reargument in Kiobel, this Court held that, given all the circumstances, the suit could not be maintained under the ATS. Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., 569 U. S. 108, 114, 124–125 (2013). The rationale of the holding, however, was not that the ATS does not extend to suits against foreign corporations. That question was left unresolved. The Court ruled, instead, that “all the relevant conduct took place outside the United States.” Id., at 124. Dismissal of the action was required based on the presumption against extraterritorial application of statutes.

The majority opinion in Kiobel, written by Judge Cabranes, held that the ATS does not apply to alleged international-law violations by a corporation. 621 F. 3d, at 120. Judge Cabranes relied in large part on the fact that international criminal tribunals have consistently limited their jurisdiction to natural persons. Id., at 132– 137. Judge Leval filed a separate opinion. He concurred in the judgment on other grounds but disagreed with the proposition that the foreign corporation was not subject to suit under the ATS. Id., at 196. Judge Leval conceded that “international law, of its own force, imposes no liabilities on corporations or other private juridical entities.” Id., at 186. But he reasoned that corporate liability for violations of international law is an issue of “civil compensatory liability” that international law leaves to individual nations. Ibid. Later decisions in the Courts of Appeals for the Seventh, Ninth, and District of Columbia Circuits agreed with Judge Leval and held that corporations can be subject to suit under the ATS. See Flomo v. Firestone Nat. Rubber Co., 643 F. 3d 1013, 1017–1021 (CA7 2011); Doe I v.Nestle USA, Inc., 766 F. 3d 1013, 1020 1022 (CA9 2014); Doe VIII v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 654 F. 3d 11, 40–55 (CADC 2011), vacated on other grounds, 527 Fed. Appx. 7 (CADC 2013). The respective opinions by Judges Cabranes and Leval are scholarly and extensive, providing significant guidance for this Court in the case now before it.

(…) The Judiciary Act also included what is now the statute known as the ATS. (…) As noted, the ATS is central to this case and its brief text bears repeating. Its full text is: “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” 28 U. S. C. §1350.

(…) This Court now must decide whether common-law liability under the ATS extends to a foreign corporate defendant.

So it is proper for this Court to decide whether corporations, or at least foreign corporations, are subject to liability in an ATS suit filed in a United States district court. Before recognizing a common-law action under the ATS, federal courts must apply the test announced in Sosa. An initial, threshold question is whether a plaintiff can demonstrate that the alleged violation is “of a norm that is specific, universal, and obligatory.” 542 U. S., at 732. And even assuming that, under international law, there is a specific norm that can be controlling, it must be determined further whether allowing this case to proceed under the ATS is a proper exercise of judicial discretion, or instead whether caution requires the political branches to grant specific authority before corporate liability can be imposed. See id., at 732– 733, and nn. 20–21.

(…) It is proper now to turn first to the question whether there is an international-law norm imposing liability on corporations for acts of their employees that contravene fundamental human rights.

It does not follow, however, that current principles of international law extend liability—civil or criminal—for human-rights violations to corporations or other artificial entities. This is confirmed by the fact that the charters of respective international criminal tribunals often exclude corporations from their jurisdictional reach.

(…) Sosa is consistent with this Court’s general reluctance to extend judicially created private rights of action.

(…) This caution extends to the question whether the courts should exercise the judicial authority to mandate a rule that imposes liability upon artificial entities like corporations. Thus, in Malesko the Court held that corporate defendants may not be held liable in Bivens actions. See Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388 (1971). Allowing corporate liability would have been a “marked extension” of Bivens that was unnecessary to advance its purpose of holding individual officers responsible for “engaging in unconstitutional wrongdoing.” Malesko, 534 U. S., at 74. Whether corporate defendants should be subject to suit was “a question for Congress, not us, to decide.” Id., at 72.

Neither the language of the ATS nor the precedents interpreting it support an exception to these general principles in this context. In fact, the separation-of-powers concerns that counsel against courts creating private rights of action apply with particular force in the context of the ATS. The political branches, not the Judiciary, have the responsibility and institutional capacity to weigh foreign-policy concerns. See Kiobel, 569 U. S., at 116–117. That the ATS implicates foreign relations “is itself a reason for a high bar to new private causes of action for violating international law.” Sosa, supra, at 727.

Congress, not the Judiciary, must decide whether to expand the scope of liability under the ATS to include foreign corporations.

(…)  The lack of a clear and well-established international-law rule is of critical relevance in determining whether courts should extend ATS liability to foreign corporations without specific congressional authorization to do so.

(…) Judicial deference requires that any imposition of corporate liability on foreign corporations for violations of international law must be determined in the first instance by the political branches of the Government.

(U.S.S.C., Apr. 24, 2018, Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC, Docket No. 16-499, J. Kennedy)

Alien Tort Statute (28 U. S. C. §1350) : il s'agit d'une loi fédérale qui permet d'engager la responsabilité de personnes physiques impliquées dans des crimes contre les droits de l'homme. La question que pose cette affaire est de savoir si la responsabilité s'étend à des personnes morales, dans la mesure où elles ont été utilisées par leurs organes pour la commissions de tels crimes. La loi ne répond pas à cette question. Dès lors, la Cour y répond par la négative : elle n'entend pas créer une nouvelle voie de droit déduite de la Common law fédérale. C'est le Congrès qui est compétent pour légiférer à ce niveau.

La Cour observe que les Tribunaux pénaux internationaux ont de manière consistante limité leurs compétences aux personnes physiques.

Et pour créer une voie de droit sous l'angle de la Common law dans le cadre d'une action ATS, une cour fédérale devrait d'abord reconnaître que le demandeur a démontré que l'infraction alléguée portait sur une norme spécifique, universelle et obligatoire. Elle devrait ensuite reconnaître que l'action dont elle est saisie est susceptible de résolution judiciaire, en écartant la nécessité d'une attribution de compétence du législateur permettant l'intervention judiciaire pour ce type de cas.

En l'espèce, la Cour juge qu'il n'existe à ce jour pas de principe de droit international qui étendrait aux personnes morales une responsabilité civile ou pénale suite à la violation de droits de l'homme.

Par ailleurs, du principe de la séparation des pouvoirs découle qu'une cour de justice ne saurait sans autre créer le principe d'une responsabilité des personnes morales. La Cour a jugé dans une autre affaire que, sauf prescription contraire du Congrès, une personne morale ne saurait être responsable dans le cadre d'une action Bivens (seul l'officier public peut être responsable, en tant que personne physique).

Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712

Art. III Courts: Public-rights doctrine:

Article III vests the judicial power of the United States “in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” §1. Consequently, Congress cannot “confer the Government’s ‘judicial Power’ on entities outside Article III.” Stern v. Marshall, 564 U. S. 462, 484 (2011). When determining whether a proceeding involves an exercise of Article III judicial power, this Court’s precedents have distinguished between “public rights” and “private rights.” Executive Benefits Ins. Agency v. Arkison, 573 U. S. ___, ___ (2014) (slip op., at 6). Those precedents have given Congress significant latitude to assign adjudication of public rights to entities other than Article III courts. See ibid.; Stern, supra, at 488–492.
This Court has not “definitively explained” the distinction between public and private rights, Northern Pipeline Constr. Co. v. Marathon Pipe Line Co., 458 U. S. 50, 69 (1982), and its precedents applying the public-rights doctrine have “not been entirely consistent,” Stern, 564 U. S., at 488. But this case does not require us to add to the “various formulations” of the public-rights doctrine. Ibid. Our precedents have recognized that the doctrine covers matters “which arise between the Government and persons subject to its authority in connection with the performance of the constitutional functions of the executive or legislative departments.” Crowell v. Benson, 285 U. S. 22, 50 (1932). In other words, the public-rights doctrine applies to matters “ ‘arising between the government and others, which from their nature do not require judicial determination and yet are susceptible of it.’ ” Ibid. (quoting Ex parte Bakelite Corp., 279 U. S. 438, 451 (1929)).

(U.S.S.C., April 24, 2018, Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712, J. Thomas)

Le Congrès peut attribuer compétence de décision à d'autres autorités que les cours de justice si des "droits publics" sont en jeu, en application de la "public-rights doctrine". Cette notion n'est pas clairement définie par la jurisprudence, mais on peut déduire de celle-ci qu'elle s'applique à des affaires qui surviennent entre le gouvernement et des tiers dans l'exécution de fonctions législatives ou exécutives, affaires qui, par leur nature, n'exigent pas une décision de justice.

Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712

Seventh Amendment: Jury trial: Art. III Court:

The Seventh Amendment preserves the “right of trial by jury” in “Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars.” This Court’s precedents establish that, when Congress properly assigns a matter to adjudication in a non-Article III tribunal, “the Seventh Amendment poses no independent bar to the adjudication of that action by a nonjury factfinder.” Granfinanciera, S. A. v. Nordberg, 492 U. S. 33, 53–54 (1989); accord, Atlas Roofing Co., at 450–455. No party challenges or attempts to distinguish those precedents. Thus, our rejection of Oil States’ Article III challenge also resolves its Seventh Amendment challenge. Because inter partes review is a matter that Congress can properly assign to the PTO, a jury is not necessary in these proceedings.

(U.S.S.C., April 24, 2018, Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712, J. Thomas)

Le droit à voir sa cause jugée par un Jury, tel que prévu par le Septième Amendement de la Constitution fédérale, ne peut pas être invoqué dans les affaires dont le Congrès a valablement attribué la compétence à une autorité autre qu'une cour au sens de l'Art. III.

Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712, J. Gorsuch, dissenting

Judicial independence: Declaration of Independence: Art. III Court: Common law:

We sometimes take it for granted today that independent judges will hear our cases and controversies. But it wasn’t always so. Before the Revolution, colonial judges depended on the crown for their tenure and salary and often enough their decisions followed their interests. The problem was so serious that the founders cited it in their Declaration of Independence. Once free, the framers went to great lengths to guarantee a degree of judicial independence for future generations that they themselves had not experienced. Under the Constitution, judges “hold their Offices during good Behaviour” and their “Compensation . . . shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.” Art. III, §1. The framers knew that “a fixed provision” for judges’ financial support would help secure “the independence of the judges,” be-cause “a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.” The Federalist No. 79, p. 472 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (A. Hamilton). They were convinced, too, that “periodical appointments, however regulated, or by whomsoever made, would, in some way or other, be fatal to the courts’ necessary independence.” The Federalist No. 78, at 471 (A. Hamilton).
“When a suit is made of the stuff of the traditional actions at common law tried by the courts at Westminster in 1789 . . . and is brought within the bounds of federal jurisdiction, the responsibility for deciding that suit rests with” Article III judges endowed with the protections for their independence the framers thought so important. Stern v. Marshall, 564 U. S. 462, 484 (2011).

(U.S.S.C., April 24, 2018, Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene's Energy Group, LLC, Docket No. 16-712, J. Gorsuch, dissenting)

Les sources de l'indépendance de la justice, Art. III, §1 de la Constitution fédérale (The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office).

Friday, April 13, 2018

USITC Institutes Section 337 Investigation

April 13, 2018
News Release 18-043
Inv. No. 337-TA-1108

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has voted to institute an investigation of certain jump rope systems.  The products at issue in the investigation are jump ropes with handles that contain a bearing element that permits a shaft to more easily rotate.
The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Jump Rope Systems, LLC, of Louisville, CO, on February 13, 2018.  The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain jump rope systems that infringe patents asserted by the complainant.  The complainant requests that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist order.
The USITC has identified Suzhou Everise Fitness Co., Ltd., of Suzhou, Jiangsu, China as the respondent in this investigation.
By instituting this investigation (337-TA-1108), the USITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case.  The USITC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge will assign the case to one of the USITC’s administrative law judges (ALJ), who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing.  The ALJ will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation of section 337; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission.
The USITC will make a final determination in the investigation at the earliest practicable time.  Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the USITC will set a target date for completing the investigation.  USITC remedial orders in section 337 cases are effective when issued and become final 60 days after issuance unless disapproved for policy reasons by the U.S. Trade Representative within that 60-day period.