Federal Circuit Dataset & Stats: January 2023 Replace

By Jason Rantanen

It’s time for the January 2023 Federal Circuit statistics replace! As I’ve achieved for the previous couple of years, beneath I present some statistics on what the Federal Circuit has been doing over the previous yr. These charts draw on the Federal Circuit Dataset Project, an open-access dataset that I preserve that accommodates info on all Federal Circuit selections and docketed appeals.  Whereas earlier variations of the dataset have been restricted to deserves selections, this yr we started together with non-merits terminations as nicely.  At the moment, all non-merits terminations from 2022 are included within the dataset.  We’ll be working backwards so as to add terminations from earlier years.

One among my objectives with this dataset is to make it publicly accessible in order that anybody can use it in their very own analysis. A whole copy of this yr’s launch is archived at https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/CAFC_Dataset_Project.  As well as, you may entry the dataset via a consumer interface through https://empirical.law.uiowa.edu and generate your individual subsets and graphs. A replica of the codebook is obtainable at these areas as nicely. As well as, in case you are a researcher who would love assist utilizing the dataset, please attain out to me – I’m joyful to assist out.

Onto the info!

Choice Numbers and Origins

Determine 1

Determine 1 reveals the variety of Federal Circuit opinions and Rule 36 abstract affirmances by origin since 2010. These characterize particular person paperwork (i.e.: a single opinion or Rule 36) relatively than docket numbers (which is how the Federal Circuit studies its metrics).

As soon as once more, the best variety of deserves selections arose from the PTO. Total, nonetheless, there was a considerable drop within the variety of deserves selections: 532 in 2022, as in contrast with 643 in 2021.  Choices from all origins truly dropped barely, however the largest drop was within the variety of selections arising from the PTO was the principle cause: 147 in 2022 as in contrast with 216 in 2021. The direct reason behind fewer selections isn’t a thriller: as proven beneath, there was a giant drop in appeals docketed on the Federal Circuit in 2021. Fewer appeals means fewer appellate selections.

Opinions vs. Abstract Affirmances

Determine 2

Determine 2 reveals the variety of opinions versus Rule 36 abstract affirmances arising from the District Courts and PTO. When it comes to absolute numbers, the court docket issued the fewest Rule 36 abstract affirmances in appeals arising from these origins in a number of years.  In relative phrases, 21% of the choices arising from the district courts have been disposed of via a abstract affirmance whereas 42% of the Federal Circuit’s selections arising from the PTO have been abstract affirmances.

What concerning the sort of opinion that the court docket is issuing? For precedential opinions, Determine 3 reveals that that is one space during which issues are about the identical as final yr: the court docket issued barely extra precedential selections arising from the district courts than in 2021 (52 vs. 47), and barely fewer precedential selections arising from the district courts (29 vs. 33). Reasonably, the drop in selections arising from the PTO largely manifested by way of fewer nonprecedential opinions.

Determine 3

What about in comparison with the court docket’s general selections?  The variety of precedential opinions issued by the court docket in 2022 was nearly precisely the identical as in 2021: 162 in 2022 as in contrast with 164 in 2021. However it’s a drop from 2014-2020. (Notice that this determine doesn’t embrace Rule 36 abstract affirmances).

Determine 4

Basic tendencies

Determine 5

In distinction with 2021, at which the Federal Circuit affirmed district court docket selections comparatively steadily (79%), in 2022 the court docket affirmed-in-full in appeals from the district courts simply 57% of the time. Even together with partial affirmances, the speed was decrease than lately: it affirmed in full or half simply 75% of the time. (The purple line signifies the common 68% affirmance price over the 12-year time interval). As a reminder, these graphs do not embrace petitions for writs of mandamus. In distinction, the court docket continued to affirm the PTO’s selections at about the identical price because it has lately, affirming in full in 78% of its selections.

Docketed Appeals

Determine 6 reveals the variety of docketed appeals by origin. These are are appeals filed on the Federal Circuit — the precursor to any selections.  As Determine 6 reveals, there was a considerable drop-off in appeals filed in 2021, adopted by a rise in appeals filed in 2022, particularly in appeals from the district courts (339 appeals stuffed in 2022 as in contrast with 286 appeals in 2021) and from the PTO (489 appeals filed in 2022 as in contrast with 402 appeals filed in 2021). Given what occurred in appeals this yr, I’d anticipate a rise in Federal Circuit selections in 2023, recognizing that it takes about 13 months on common from submitting to determination.

Determine 6

Along with offering an image of what’s being filed on the Federal Circuit, the docket dataset additionally permits us to match up the Federal Circuit selections to different datasets of district court docket and PTO knowledge, such because the USPTO Patent Litigation dataset and the Stanford NPE Litigation Dataset. When you’re considering doing a deep dive into these areas, my analysis group and I used this knowledge in just a few papers this yr:

Miscellaneous Dockets

One class of knowledge that’s not included within the above graphs is the info on petitions for writs of mandamus and petitions for permission to enchantment. As in previous years, practically the entire miscellaneous issues consisted of Petitions for Writs of Mandamus, with just a few Petitions for Permission to Enchantment.  Determine 7 reveals the numbers of tendencies of petitions for writs of mandamus over time.

Determine 7

In 2022, the court docket granted in entire or half 11 petitions for a writ of mandamus; fewer than 2021 (18), however at simply as excessive a price (42%). As in previous years, the grants come up completely from petitions arising from the district courts.   Jonas Anderson, Paul Gugliuzza & I discuss this in additional depth in Extraordinary Writ or Ordinary Remedy: Mandamus at the Federal Circuit, 100 Wash. U. L. Rev. 327 (2022)  

Extra terminations

Starting in February 2022, the Federal Circuit started making all terminations of appeals accessible on its web site. It is a terrific determination and is attentive to considerations about “lacking” selections that Merritt McAlister and I’ve every written about. That mentioned, as I wrote about in my examination of the Federal Circuit’s decisions, the Federal Circuit has traditionally achieved a reasonably good job most making deserves selections (i.e.: “Opinions” and “Rule 36” abstract affirmances) accessible on its web site, so many of those further terminations encompass appeals which can be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Process 42(b). I supplemented what was on the court docket’s web site with a group of the extra January and February 2022 terminations from PACER, so the entire terminations for 2022 are in there.

Utilizing knowledge about these selections, I used to be capable of put collectively a graph displaying how these appeals have been disposed of. This graph differs a bit from the Federal Circuit’s personal statistics as a result of it’s by doc relatively than docket quantity, and (2) it’s for the calendar yr relatively than the fiscal yr. The aim is to supply a way of what occurs to appeals apart from people who end in deserves selections.

Determine 8

Near 2/3rds of enchantment terminations occurred within the context of an opinion (49%) or Rule 36 abstract affirmance (14%). Many of the the rest have been dismissals (32%). Of the dismissals, 63% have been voluntary withdrawals (usually beneath to FRAP 42(b)). The remaining dismissals are for quite a lot of causes, however usually attributable to a failure to prosecute the enchantment, failure to enchantment throughout the related time interval, or lack of appellate material jurisdiction.

To obtain the info for your self, go to the dataverse or go to http://empirical.law.uiowa.edu. I’ve additionally saved a replica of my Excel workbook with the graphs on the Dataverse archive. It accommodates the precise parameters that I used to generate these graphs.