Furnace Brook, LLC v. Aeropostale, Inc. et al.

Furnace Brook, LLC v. Aeropostale, Inc. et al.
Docket No. 2011-1025
July 22, 2011


Subject matter: collateral estoppel

FB appealed DC grant of SJ that collateral estoppel (CE) prevents it from asserting U.S. Pat. No. 5,721,832 against the defendants. In a previous litigation (Overstock, FC 2007), the FC affirmed the DC decision that access of websites used to order products over the internet did not infringe the claims due to the “telephone terminal” limitation. FB asserted the same claims here against AP etc., and argued that CE did not apply because the previous case actually turned on the “sua sponte construction of the ‘selective communication link’ limitation” in Overstock. The FC disagreed, holding that the “telephone terminal” issue had been previously litigated, and affirmed the DC decision. The dissent argued that this decision was improper because the Overstock decision was incorrect but the panel noted that it “cannot refuse to apply collateral estoppel because we disagree with the earlier decision” and “[e]arlier decisions of this court are binding upon later panels” (citing Newell, FC 1988).

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