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Zimmerman's Research Guide


United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

In 1982, the appellate portion of the United States Court of Claims and the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals merged to form the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Court hears appeals from a number of trial courts and Federal agencies in a number of different subject areas, as discussed in the "Jurisdiction" section, below.

The telephone number for the Court Clerk's Office is 202-275-8000. The number for the Court Library is 202-275-8411.

Opinions: The Court posts Opinions and Orders back to 2004. You can get cases free from Google Scholar (1920s-present), the Public Library of Law (1982-present) and FindLaw (1995-present). The Georgetown Law Library posts a free archive of cases covering July 1995 to February 2008.

Westlaw has Federal Circuit opinions back to 1945 in the CTAF database. Opinions from 1856 to 1944 are searchable in CTAF-OLD.

Lexis includes Federal Circuit opinions with opinions from other Federal courts in GENFED;FED. To get just Federal Circuit opinions, add "& court(federal circuit)" to the end of your search.

Docket Information: A calendar for upcoming events is posted on the Court's Web site. Starting with January 1, 2012, docket sheets are available through Pacer.

Jurisdiction: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has the most unusual jurisdictional scope of any court I know. The Court Jurisdiction page of the Court website explains:

The Court "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."

See Also
Case Pulls
Court Clerks / Court Houses
Docket Sheets
Federal Court Rules
Government Contracts
Jury Instructions
Patents - U.S.
United States Court of Appeals
United States Courts, generally

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman