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  History of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
 

Pursuant to the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982, which President Reagan signed into law in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House on April 2, 1982, the new United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was created. The Federal Circuit was formed from the merger of two prior Article III courts, the United States Court of Claims, and the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals. The judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit assumed their responsibilities in a historic Inaugural Session on October 1, 1982, after being administered the Judicial Oath of Office by the Chief Justice of the United States.

The jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit) is prescribed generally by section 1295 of title 28, United States Code. Subsection 9(a) thereof gives the Federal Circuit exclusive jurisdiction, inter alia, of:

  • an appeal from a final decision of district courts of the United States, if the jurisdiction of that court was based, in whole or in part, relating to patents;
  • an appeal from a final decision of a district court of the United States, if the jurisdiction of that court was based, in whole or in part, on the Little Tucker Act, 28 U.S.C. 1346;
  • an appeal from a final decision of the United States Claims Court;
  • an appeal from a decision of
    • the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences of the Patent and Trademark Office with respect to patent applica-tions and interferences;
    • the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks or the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board with respect to applica-tions for registration of marks; or
    • a district court to which a case was directed pursuant to section 145 or 146 of title 35;
  • an appeal from a final decision of the United States Court of International Trade;
  • to review the final determinations of the United States International Trade Commission relating to unfair practices in import trade, made under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1337);
  • to review, by appeal on questions of law only, findings of the Secretary of Commerce under U.S. note 6 to subchapter X of chapter 98 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (relating to importation of instruments or apparatus);
  • an appeal under section 71 of the Plant Variety Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 2461);
  • an appeal from a final order or final decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board, pursuant to sections 7703(b)(1) and 7703(d) of title 5;
  • an appeal from a final decision of an agency board of contract appeals pursuant to section 8(g)(1) of the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (41 U.S.C. 607(g)(1));
  • an appeal under section 211 of the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970;
  • an appeal under section 5 of the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973;
  • an appeal under section 506(c) of the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978; and
  • an appeal under section 523 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act

In its first decision, South Corp. v. United States, 690 F. 2d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1982), the Federal Circuit adopted the decisions of its predecessor courts, the United States Court of Claims and the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, as binding precedent.

The judges of the first United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Standing, left to right: Byron G. Skelton, Helen Wilson Nies, Jack R. Miller, Edward S. Smith, Wilson Cowen, Philip Nichols, Jr.

Seated, left to right: Shiro Kashiwa, Oscar H. Davis, Daniel M. Friedman, Howard T. Markey, Giles S. Rich, Phillip B. Baldwin, Marion T. Bennett.

Not Shown: Don N. Laramore and James L. Almond, Jr.

     
THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT HISTORICAL SOCIETY, c/o FINNEGAN HENDERSON,
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