Appeals To The Federal Circuit

A. Federal Circuit Jurisdiction
1. Exclusive Jurisdiction over Claims Arising from Patent Law
The Federal Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction over “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 28 U.S.C. § 1338.”1
Therefore, even in cases involving both patent and non-patent claims, the
Federal Circuit will have exclusive jurisdiction if a patent law claim
appears on the face of the plaintiff’s well-pleaded complaint.2
The Federal Circuit’s jurisdictional grant includes cases where non-
patent claims are tried separately from patent claims and the resulting
decision was appealed without inclusion of the patent claims.3 However,
in order for section 1338(a) to create jurisdiction, the complaint must
comply with the “well-pleaded complaint” rule, meaning that it must
establish “either that federal patent law creates the cause of action or that
the plaintiff’s right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a
substantial question of federal patent law, in that patent law is a
necessary element of one of the well-pleaded claims.”4
1. 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(1). Section 1338 grants federal district courts
jurisdiction over patent cases. 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a) (“The district courts
shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action arising under any Act of
Congress relating to patents.”).
2. See part A.2 of this chapter for a further discussion of this standard. The
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was established in 1982
under Article III of the Constitution from the merger of the U.S. Court of
Customs and Patent Appeals and the appellate division of the U.S. Court
of Claims. The Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction in patents and
trademarks, as well as international trade and certain money claims
against the United States government, federal personnel, and veterans’
benefits. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit,
About the Court, available at
3. See Korody-Colyer Corp. v. General Motors Corp., 828 F.2d 1572 (Fed.
Cir. 1987) (exercising jurisdiction over antitrust issues but not patent
4. Christianson v. Colt Indus. Op. Corp., 486 U.S. 800, 808–09 (1988).

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