The Supreme Court issued an order on October 13, 2020, granting and consolidating three certiorari petitions seeking review of the Federal Circuit’s judgment in Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., 941 F.3d 1320 (Fed. Cir. 2019), reh’g denied, 953 F.3d 760 (Fed. Cir. 2020). We discussed the Federal Circuit’s judgment here and its decision denying rehearing here. The Supreme Court, at the government’s recommendation, asks the parties to address the following two questions.
- Whether, for purposes of the Appointments Clause, U.S. Const. Art. II, § 2, Cl. 2, administrative patent judges of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are principal officers who must be appointed by the President with the Senate’s advice and consent, or “inferior Officers” whose appointment Congress has permissibly vested in a department head.
- Whether, if administrative patent judges are principal officers, the court of appeals properly cured any Appointments Clause defect in the current statutory scheme prospectively by severing the application of 5 U.S.C. 7513(a) to those judges.
The three cases in which petitions were granted are:
- United States v. Arthrex, Inc. (Dkt. 19-1434)
- Smith & Nephew, Inc. v. Arthrex, Inc. (Dkt. 19-1452)
- Arthrex, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc. (Dkt. 19-1458)
The Court’s decision is expected in 2021.