Court of Customs and Patent Appeals

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The Court of Customs Appeals was established by Congress in 1909 to hear appeals from the Board of General Appraisers, a body that itself heard appeals from decisions by customs collectors. (In 1926 the Board became the United States Customs Court, and in 1980 that court was converted into the United States court of international trade.) In 1929 Congress renamed the court and expanded its jurisdiction. The new Court of Customs and Patent Appeals (CCPA) heard, in addition, appeals from the Patent Office in both patent and trademark cases.

In 1958 Congress declared the CCPA to be a constitutional court, created under Article III. In Glidden Co. v. Zdanok (1962) the Supreme Court held, 5–2, that the CCPA was, indeed, an Article III court, despite its statutory authorization to do some nonjudicial business. There was no opinion of the Court, and the theories supporting the decision were in conflict. Justice john marshall harlan, for three Justices, concluded that the CCPA had been an Article III court since 1930, when Congress had granted its members life tenure during good behavior. Justice tom c. clark, for the other two majority Justices, said that the 1958 declaration of Congress had converted the CCPA into a constitutional court. Justice william o. douglas, joined by Justice hugo l. black, dissented, arguing that the court remained a legislative court despite the congressional declaration. Thus, while a majority rejected each theory argued in support of the decision, the result was acceptance of the CCPA's Article III status.

In the federal courts improvement act (1982) Congress abolished the CCPA, transferring its jurisdiction to a newly established united states court of appeals for the federal circuit.

Kenneth L. Karst

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Court of Customs and Patent Appeals

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