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The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit; in
case citation Case citation is a system used by legal professionals to identify past court case decisions, either in series of books called Reporter (law), reporters or law reports, or in a neutral style that identifies a decision regardless of where it is re ...
s, Fed. Cir. or C.A.F.C.) is a
United States court of appeals The United States courts of appeals or circuit courts are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal judiciary. The courts are divided into 13 circuits, and each hears appeals from the district courts within its borders, ...
headquartered in
Washington, D.C. ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument The Washington Monument is an obelisk within the National Mall The National Mall is a Landscape architecture, landscaped ...
The court was created by
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...

Congress
with passage of the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982, which merged the
United States Court of Customs and Patent AppealsThe United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (CCPA) was a United States federal court The federal judiciary of the United States is one of the three branches of the federal government of the United States organized under the Constitution ...
and the appellate division of the
United States Court of Claims United may refer to: Places * United, Pennsylvania United is located in Mount Pleasant Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. It is a community located near Norvelt, Pennsylvania. History In 1881, the United Coal Company, United Coal & Cok ...
, making the judges of the former courts into circuit judges. The Federal Circuit is particularly known for its decisions on patent law, as it is the only appellate-level court other than the Supreme Court with the jurisdiction to hear patent case appeals. The court occupies the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building as well as the adjacent
Benjamin Ogle Tayloe House The Benjamin Ogle Tayloe House is a Federal architecture, Federal-style house located at 21 Madison Place NW in Washington, D.C., in the United States. The house is on the northeast corner of Madison Place NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, directly ac ...
, former
Cosmos Club The Cosmos Club is a 501(c)(7) private social club in Washington, D.C. that was founded by John Wesley Powell John Wesley Powell (March 24, 1834 – September 23, 1902) was a geologist, U.S. Soldier, explorer of the American West, profess ...

Cosmos Club
building, and the Cutts-Madison House in Washington, D.C. on
Lafayette SquareLafayette Square may refer to several places in the United States: *Lafayette Square, Los Angeles, Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles, California *Lafayette Square (Savannah, Georgia), one of Savannah's 22 city squares *Lafayette Square Mall, ...
. The court sits from time to time in locations other than Washington, and its judges can and do sit by designation on the benches of other courts of appeals and federal district courts. , Washington and Lee University School of Law's Millhiser Moot Courtroom had been designated as the continuity of operations site for the court.


Jurisdiction

The Federal Circuit is unique among the courts of appeals as it is the only court that has its jurisdiction based wholly upon subject matter rather than
geographic location In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the wo ...
. The Federal Circuit is an
appellate court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the Eng ...
with jurisdiction generally given in . The court hears certain appeals from all of the
United States District Court#REDIRECT United States district court The United States district courts are the general trial court A trial court or court of first instance is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the aut ...
s, appeals from certain administrative agencies, and appeals arising under certain statutes. Among other things, the Federal Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction over appeals from: *
Article I tribunal Federal tribunals in the United States are those tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title. For e ...
s: **
United States Court of Federal Claims The United States Court of Federal Claims (in case citations, Fed. Cl. or C.F.C.) is a United States federal court The federal judiciary of the United States is one of the three branches of the federal government of the United States organized ...

United States Court of Federal Claims
**
United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (in case citation Case citation is a system used by legal professionals to identify past court case decisions, either in series of books called Reporter (law), reporters or law reports, ...
** United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ** United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board (formerly known as the United States Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences) ** Boards of contract appeals (for Government contract disputes pursuant to the
Contract Disputes Act of 1978The Contract Disputes Act of 1978 ("CDA", , ), which became effective on March 1, 1979, establishes the procedures for handling "claims" relating to United States Federal Government contracts. It is codified, as amended, at . Claims by contractors ...
): ***
Armed Services Board of Contract AppealsThe Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) is an administrative tribunal within the United States Federal Government that hears certain claims arising from contract disputes between government contractors and either the United States Depart ...
***
Civilian Board of Contract Appeals The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) is an Article I court that was established under the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 as an independent tribunal to hear and decide contract disputes between Government contractors and the General Services ...
*** Postal Service Board of Contract Appeals **
United States Merit Systems Protection Board The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) is an independent quasi-judicial agency established in 1979 to protect federal merit systems against partisan political and other prohibited personnel practices and to ensure adequate protection for United ...
(federal employment and employment benefits) **
United States International Trade Commission The United States International Trade Commission (USITC or I.T.C.) is a federal agency of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United S ...
* Article III tribunals: **
United States Court of International Trade The United States Court of International Trade ( case citations: Int'l Trade or Intl. Trade) is a U.S. federal court that adjudicates civil actions arising out of U.S. customs and international trade laws. Seated in New York City New ...
**
United States district court#REDIRECT United States district court The United States district courts are the general trial court A trial court or court of first instance is a court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the aut ...
s relating to: ***
Patents A patent is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depe ...
, including appeals arising from an action against the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks under ***The Little Tucker Act, ***Section 211 of the
Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 The Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 (Title II of , formerly codified a12 U.S.C. § 1904 was a United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United ...
; ***Section 5 of the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973; ***Section 523 of the
Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) () is a United States Act of Congress that responded to the 1973 oil crisis by creating a comprehensive approach to federal energy policy. The primary goals of EPCA are to increase energy prod ...
; and ***Section 506(c) of the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 * Congressional Office of Compliance Although the Federal Circuit typically hears all appeals from any United States District Court where the original action included a complaint arising under the patent laws, the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...

Supreme Court
decided in ''Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Systems, Inc.'' (2002) that the Federal Circuit does not have jurisdiction if the patent claims arose solely as
counterclaim In a court of law, a party's claim is a counterclaim if one party asserts claims in response to the claims of another. In other words, if a plaintiff initiates a lawsuit and a defendant responds to the lawsuit with claims of his or her own agains ...
s by the defendant. However, Congress changed the law in the America Invents Act of 2011, requiring the Federal Circuit to hear all appeals where the original action included a complaint or compulsory counterclaim arising under the patent laws. Thus, the Supreme Court's 2002 ''Holmes'' ruling no longer has the force of law. The decisions of the Federal Circuit, particularly in regard to patent cases, are unique in that they are
binding precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal case is in a general sense a dispute between opposing parties which may be resolved by a court, or by some equivalent legal process. A legal case is typically based ...
throughout the U.S. within the bounds of the court's subject-matter jurisdiction. This is unlike the other courts of appeals as the authority of their decisions is restricted by geographic location and thus there may be differing judicial standards depending on location. Decisions of the Federal Circuit are only superseded by decisions of the Supreme Court or by applicable changes in the law. Also, review by the Supreme Court is discretionary, so Federal Circuit decisions are often the final word, especially since there are usually no
circuit split In United States federal courts, a circuit split occurs when two or more different United States court of appeals, circuit courts of appeals provide conflicting rulings on the same legal issue. The existence of a circuit split is one of the fact ...
s given the Federal Circuit's exclusive subject-matter jurisdiction. In its first decision, the Federal Circuit incorporated as binding precedent the decisions of its predecessor courts, the
United States Court of Customs and Patent AppealsThe United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (CCPA) was a United States federal court The federal judiciary of the United States is one of the three branches of the federal government of the United States organized under the Constitution ...
and the appellate division of the
United States Court of Claims United may refer to: Places * United, Pennsylvania United is located in Mount Pleasant Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. It is a community located near Norvelt, Pennsylvania. History In 1881, the United Coal Company, United Coal & Cok ...
. Because the Court is one of national jurisdiction, panels from the court may sit anywhere in the country. Typically, once or twice a year, the court will hold oral arguments in a city outside of its native Washington D.C. The panels may sit in Federal courthouses, state courthouses, or even at law schools.


Composition

The Federal Circuit may have a total of 12 active circuit judges sitting at any given time, who are required to reside within 50 miles of the District of Columbia, as set by . Judges on
senior status #REDIRECT Senior status #REDIRECT Senior status#REDIRECT Senior status Senior status is a form of semi-retirement for United States federal judges, as well as judges in some state courts. A judge in the Federal judiciary of the United States, fe ...
are not subject to this restriction. As with other federal judges, they are nominated by the President and must be
confirmed A woodcut depicting the confirmation of Lutheran youth In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of the covenant created in baptism. It is an affirmation of commitment and belief. Those bei ...
by the Senate. Their terms last during the "good behavior" of the judges, which typically results in life tenure. When eligible, judges may elect to take
senior status #REDIRECT Senior status #REDIRECT Senior status#REDIRECT Senior status Senior status is a form of semi-retirement for United States federal judges, as well as judges in some state courts. A judge in the Federal judiciary of the United States, fe ...
. This allows a senior judge to continue to serve on the court while handling fewer cases than an active service judge. Each judge in active service employs a judicial assistant and up to four law clerks, while each judge in senior status employs a judicial assistant and one law clerk.


Current composition of the court

:


Vacancies and pending nominations


List of former judges


Chief judges

Notwithstanding the foregoing, when the court was initially created, Congress had to resolve which chief judge of the predecessor courts would become the first chief judge. It was decided that the chief judge of the predecessor court who had the most seniority, as chief judge, would be the new chief judge. §166, . This made Howard T. Markey, former chief judge of the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, the first chief judge.


Succession of seats

The court has twelve seats for active judges, numbered in alphabetical order by their occupant at the time the court was formed, with the sole vacant seat being numbered last. Judges who retire into
senior status #REDIRECT Senior status #REDIRECT Senior status#REDIRECT Senior status Senior status is a form of semi-retirement for United States federal judges, as well as judges in some state courts. A judge in the Federal judiciary of the United States, fe ...
remain on the bench but leave their seat vacant. That seat is filled by the next circuit judge appointed by the
President President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

President
.


See also

*
Federal Circuit Bar AssociationHeadquartered in Washington, DC, the Federal Circuit Bar Association (FCBA) is an bar association, organization for the bar of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. It functions as a forum for dialogue between bar members and the court and b ...
* Federal Circuit appointment history *
List of current United States Circuit Judges#REDIRECT List of current United States circuit judges {{Redirect category shell, {{R from move ...
* List of United States patent law cases *
United States Court of Federal Claims The United States Court of Federal Claims (in case citations, Fed. Cl. or C.F.C.) is a United States federal court The federal judiciary of the United States is one of the three branches of the federal government of the United States organized ...

United States Court of Federal Claims


Citations


General references

* ** Source for the duty stations for senior judges * ** Source for the state, lifetime, term of active judgeship, term of chief judgeship, term of senior judgeship, appointer, termination reason, and seat information


Further reading

* * * * *


External links


United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Recent opinions from Findlaw

The Federal Circuit Bar Association

The Federal Circuit Historical Society

The Federal Circuit Bar Journal
{{DEFAULTSORT:United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit 1982 establishments in the United States Courts and tribunals established in 1982