Article III of the Constitution established the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on October 1, 1982. The merger of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and the appellate division of the United States Court of Claims formed the court. The court is located in the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building on historic Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C.
The Federal Circuit is unique among the thirteen Circuit Courts of Appeals. It 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, and veterans’ benefits. 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.
Furthermore, the Federal Circuit court also takes appeals of certain administrative agencies’ decisions. These include 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. Finally, the court reviews decisions of the United States International Trade Commission, the Office of Compliance of the United States Congress and the Government Accountability Office Personnel Appeals Board.
The President appoints the judges of the Federal Circuit court with the advice and consent of the Senate. Under Article Ill of the Constitution of the United States the appoints are for life. There are twelve judges in active service. When eligible, judges may elect to take senior status, which allows them to continue to serve on the court while handling fewer cases than a judge in active service. Each judge in active service employs a judicial assistant and up to four law clerks, while each judge in senior status employs a judicial assistant and one law clerk.