Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal and Copyright Law

Map of the United States, By Judicial Circuits from the Court Locator

Circuit courts of appeal were created by the Judiciary Act of 1789 which created three circuit courts.   In 1801, a total of six circuit courts of appeals were created under the Midnight Judges Act.  

Links to Circuit Courts of Appeal:

First Circuit         
Second Circuit  
Third Circuit 
Fourth Circuit 
Fifth Circuit 
Sixth Circuit 
Seventh Circuit 
Eighth Circuit        
Ninth Circuit 
Tenth Circuit 
Eleventh Circuit  
D.C. Circuit 
Federal Circuit

Circuit courts of appeal review decisions of the 94 U.S. federal district courts.  When a Circuit court has decided a controlling issue of law, the U.S. district courts within that Circuit are bound by it.   A "circuit split" or  "split in the Circuits" means that two different Circuit courts of appeal are divided on a question.   Law students writing law review articles look for a split in the Circuits, and the U.S. Supreme Court is more likely to grant certiorari to resolve differences in the law between the Circuits.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is located in Washington, D.C. was created in 1982 and has the following nationwide jurisdiction:

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was established under Article III of the Constitution on October 1, 1982. The court was formed by the merger of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and the appellate division of the United States Court of Claims. The court is located in the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building on historic Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.
The Federal Circuit is unique among the thirteen Circuit Courts of Appeals. It has nationwide jurisdiction in a variety of subject areas, including international trade, government contracts, patents, trademarks, certain money claims against the United States government, federal personnel, veterans' benefits, and public safety officers' benefits claims. Appeals to the court come from all federal district courts, the United States Court of Federal Claims, the United States Court of International Trade, and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The court also takes appeals of certain administrative agencies' decisions, including the United States Merit Systems Protection Board, the Boards of Contract Appeals, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, and the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board. Decisions of the United States International Trade Commission, the Office of Compliance, an independent agency in the legislative branch, and the Government Accountability Office Personnel Appeals Board, and the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance also are reviewed by the court. The court's jurisdiction consists of administrative law cases (55%), intellectual property cases (31%), and cases involving money damages against the United States government (11%). The administrative law cases consist of personnel and veterans claims. Nearly all of the intellectual property cases involve patents. Suits for money damages against the United States government include government contract cases, tax refund appeals, unlawful takings, and civilian and military pay cases.

In developing copyright law, different Circuits take different approaches to interpreting the Copyright Act.

Purchase Copyright Litigation Handbook 2010 by Raymond J. Dowd from West here  

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