Judicial System in U.S.A

The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land in the United States however each State also has its own Constitution. Under this Federal System the matters and affairs have been specified as Federal or State affairs. And to deal with these two types of affairs there is a two Court and/or Judicial Systems in United States:

  1. Federal Court System
  2. State Court System

1. Federal Court System:

  1. Supreme Court is the highest court of law in U.S.A established under Article III Section 1 of the Constitution  of the United States.
  2. Pursuant of Article III Congress has used this power to establish the 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals, the 94 U.S. District Courts, the U.S. Court of Claims, and the U.S. Court of International Trade. U.S. Bankruptcy Courts handle bankruptcy cases. Magistrate Judges handle some District Court matters.
  3. The decisions of a U.S. District Court, the U.S. Court of Claims, and/or the U.S. Court of International Trade are appealed to a U.S. Court of Appeals.
  4. The U.S. Supreme Court can review a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals, but the Supreme Court usually is under no obligation to do so. The U.S. Supreme Court is the final arbiter of federal constitutional questions

Federal Court System deals with the following matters:

  1. Cases that deal with the constitutionality of a law;
  2. Cases involving the laws and treaties of the U.S.;
  3. Cases involving ambassadors and public ministers;
  4. Disputes between two or more states;
  5. Admiralty law;
  6. Bankruptcy; and
  7. Habeas corpus issues.

Federal Courts in the United States:

i. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. Article III of the U.S. Constitution created the Supreme Court and authorized Congress to pass laws establishing a system of lower courts. In the federal court system’s present form, 94 district level trial courts and 13 courts of appeals sit below the Supreme Court.

ii. Courts of Appeals

There are 13 appellate courts that sit below the U.S. Supreme Court, and they are called the U.S. Courts of Appeals. The 94 federal judicial districts are organized into 12 regional circuits, each of which has a court of appeals.  The appellate court’s task is to determine whether or not the law was applied correctly in the trial court. Appeals courts consist of three judges and do not use a jury.

A court of appeals hears challenges to district court decisions from courts located within its circuit, as well as appeals from decisions of federal administrative agencies.

In addition, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals in specialized cases, such as those involving patent laws, and cases decided by the U.S. Court of International Trade and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

iii. Bankruptcy Appellate Panels

Bankruptcy Appellate Panels (BAPs) are 3-judge panels authorized to hear appeals of bankruptcy court decisions. These panels are a unit of the federal courts of appeals, and must be established by that circuit.

Five circuits have established panels: First Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Eighth Circuit, Ninth Circuit, and Tenth Circuit.

iv. District Courts

The U.S.A  94 district or trial courts are called U.S. District Courts. District courts resolve disputes by determining the facts and applying legal principles to decide who is right.

Trial courts include the district judge who tries the case and a jury that decides the case. Magistrate judges assist district judges in preparing cases for trial. They may also conduct trials in misdemeanor cases.

There is at least one district court in each state, and the District of Columbia. Each district includes a U.S. bankruptcy court as a unit of the district court. Four territories of the United States have U.S. district courts that hear federal cases, including bankruptcy cases: Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

There are also two special trial courts. The Court of International Trade addresses cases involving international trade and customs laws. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims deals with most claims for money damages against the U.S. government.

v. Bankruptcy Courts

Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases involving personal, business, or farm bankruptcy. This means a bankruptcy case cannot be filed in state court. Through the bankruptcy process, individuals or businesses that can no longer pay their creditors may either seek a court-supervised liquidation of their assets, or they may reorganize their financial affairs and work out a plan to pay their debts.

vi. Article I Courts

Congress created several Article I, or legislative courts, that do not have full judicial power. Judicial power is the authority to be the final decider in all questions of Constitutional law, all questions of federal law and to hear claims at the core of habeas corpus issues. Article I Courts are:

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • U.S. Tax Court

2. State Court System:

The Constitution and laws of each state establish the state courts. The highest court in each State is often known as a Supreme Court. Some states also have an intermediate Court of Appeals. Below these appeals courts are the state trial courts. Some are referred to as Circuit or District Courts.

Basic courts in each State are the trial court. The decisions of trial courts are appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. The appeal against the Intermediate Court of Appeals lies with the highest state court or the supreme court of the State to hear the case.

Only certain cases are eligible for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

State Court System deals with the following matters:

  1. Most criminal cases, probate (involving wills and estates)
  2. Most contract cases, tort cases (personal injuries),
  3. Family law (marriages, divorces, adoptions), etc.
  4. State courts are the final arbiters of state laws and constitutions.
  5. However their interpretation of federal law or the U.S. Constitution may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court may choose to hear or not to hear such cases.

Depending on the dispute or crime, some cases end up in the federal courts and some end up in state courts.

Trademark Prosecution, Trial and Appeal Procedure in U.S.A

  1. U.S.A trademark law is Trademark Act of 1946 known as the Lanham Act enacted by Congress on July 5, 1946 codified at 15 U.S.C. §1051 et seq gives the procedure of trademark prosecution, trial and appeal in U.S.A.
  2. Trademark is applied with the federal trademark registration office called United States Patent and Trademark Office USPTO. This is a federal office to decide the grant or refusal of the Trademark in U.S.A
  3. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) is the next federal authority on trademark matters in U.S.A after USPTO. Any appeal against the decision of the trademark examiner USPTO is filed with Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). In addition to appeals against the USPTO decisions TTAB also deals with the Trademark Oppositions.
  4. Appeal against the decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) lies with the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or the petitioner/appellant has the option to commence de novo action in the District Court. If he choose de novo proceedings then The District Court decision is appealed in the United States Courts of Appeals or Circuit Courts.
  5. Appeal against the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit lies with Supreme Court of the United States.

Patent Prosecution, Trial and Appeal Procedure in U.S.A

  1. The Patent application is filed with United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
  2. Any appeal against the decision of the Patent Examiner United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can be filed with  the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). After enactment of Leahy–Smith America Invents Act (AIA) 2012 the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) was established on on September 16, 2012 as administrative law authority of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to decide patentability.
  3. Appeal against the decisions of the PTAB is filed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) under 35 U.S.C. § 141(a).
  4. The decisions of the the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit are appealed with Supreme Court of the United States which is the ultimate authority to decide patentability.
  5. A decision of the Supreme Court can be reversed by the United States Congress by changing the law.

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