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Volume 64, Issue 4
The Downfall of Auer Deference: Veterans Law at the Federal Circuit in 2014

By Victoria Hadfield Moshiashwili | 64 Am. U. L. Rev. 1007

The 2014 veterans benefits case law of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit mirrored a growing trend at the U.S. Supreme Court to question the well-established tradition of judicial deference to a federal agency’s interpretation of its own regulations.   This article examines the Federal Circuit’s 2014 veterans benefits cases.  Part I provides background and context for the issues raised by the Federal Circuit’s 2014 cases.  Part II surveys changes in the composition of the Federal Circuit during the past year.  Part III reviews and summarizes the Federal Circuit’s 2014 veterans law cases.  Part IV discusses the court’s recent willingness to question Auer deference and how that principle applies in the context of veterans law.

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NOTE: The Federal Circuit and Ultramercial: Software and Business Method Patents Tumble Further Down the Rabbit Hole

By Mark Patrick | 64 Am. U. L. Rev. 1089

During World War II, work began at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Engineering on the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)—a machine commissioned by the U.S. military and designed to calculate munitions trajectories.  Once completed, the ENIAC weighed thirty tons and was seen by many as the world’s first general purpose electronic digital computer.  While advancements in computing power prompted the evolution of the ENIAC into the computers of today, it is the software that runs on modern computers that make them so crucial to our everyday lives.  “Software” consists of the programs that run on a computer and enable it to perform certain functions.  However, as far as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is concerned, both software and business methods fall under the umbrella of “computer-implemented inventions.”  Patent applications to software and business methods are grouped together because both are often claimed as abstract processes implemented on computer hardware, and as such, they both frequently fall victim to the abstract idea exception—one of the three judicially created exceptions to patent eligibility.

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