The Pandemic Has Changed Fed Circuit Decisionmaking, Patent Lawyers Say
Intellectual Property Partner Anthony Fuga was quoted in a Thomson Reuters Westlaw article describing changes to how the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit) has been issuing decisions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Circuit, known for holding oral arguments in all appeals with parties represented by counsel, has been issuing short and quickly delivered written decisions based on briefs for about half of its cases. Mr. Fuga said he suspects many of these decisions would have been "Rule 36 affirmances," meaning they would have merely upheld a lower court ruling. Because the court is holding fewer oral arguments, it has issued fewer Rule 36 affirmances, instead opting for shorter decisions. Mr. Fuga said he appreciates the increase in these shorter decisions because they explain the court's ruling.
"With Rule 36 affirmances without an opinion you really don't know why the court affirmed a decision unless there was only one issue before them. At least with a two- or three-page decision you know," he said. "If you are someone who is really trying to get a glimpse into what the Federal Circuit is thinking this has been a welcome change. Just a little bit more insight is always welcome."