Taylor v. United States Patent and Trademark Office

Filing 32

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT by Judge William Alsup [denying 26 Motion for Leave to File]. (whasec, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 1/22/2013)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 TAYLOR, MARCUS RAY, 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 12 13 14 15 Plaintiff, No. C 12-03851 WHA v. UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE, ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO AMEND COMPLAINT Defendant. / 16 17 18 INTRODUCTION Following an order of dismissal, pro se plaintiff filed this motion for leave to amend 19 his complaint. This order finds that the amendment would be futile even assuming plaintiff’s 20 allegations are true. Plaintiff’s motion is DENIED. 21 22 STATEMENT Plaintiff Marcus Taylor alleges that he submitted a disclosure document to defendant 23 United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1993 that described an invention called a 24 heliatomic generator. The disclosure document allegedly described an invention and provided 25 proof of a conception date. After two years without a patent application being filed, the 26 disclosure document was supposed to have been destroyed under PTO regulations. 27 Plaintiff did not file a patent application for the heliatomic generator until 2006, thereby opening 28 a new file. Plaintiff’s application was published in 2008 but was ultimately denied in 2009. 1 The grounds for denial included obviousness based on a prior patent issued to Paul Baskis. 2 Based on similarities between plaintiff’s disclosure document and Baskis’ patent, plaintiff 3 alleges that the USPTO was involved in a conspiracy to deprive him of his invention. 4 Plaintiff alleges that the USPTO failed to destroy his 1993 disclosure document and instead 5 leaked it to Baskis. Plaintiff further alleges that Baskis then patented plaintiff’s invention 6 in 1998. 7 Plaintiff complained administratively to the USPTO. After conducting an investigation, 8 the USPTO denied plaintiff’s grievance and advised plaintiff he had six months to seek review 9 in the district court. Plaintiff filed the present action in late 2012. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint, and dismissal was granted. The dismissal order gave plaintiff leave to amend 11 For the Northern District of California United States District Court 10 and stated that the proposed amended complaint must state plaintiff’s best case. Plaintiff filed 12 the instant motion and appended a proposed complaint reciting one claim for civil fraud 13 (Proposed Compl. 12). 14 15 ANALYSIS 1. THE UNITED STATES HAS NOT WAIVED SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY FOR FRAUD CLAIMS. 16 Under Rule 15, leave to amend should be given when justice so requires. The underlying 17 purpose of Rule 15 is to facilitate decisions on the merits, rather than on the pleadings or 18 technicalities. United States v. Webb, 655 F.2d 977, 979 (9th Cir. 1981). A principal limiting 19 factor to the liberal amendment standard is that “[l]eave to amend need not be granted when an 20 amendment would be futile.” In re Vantive Corp. Sec. Litig., 283 F.3d 1079, 1097 (9th Cir. 21 2002). Defendant challenges plaintiff’s motion on the ground that amendment would be futile. 22 This order agrees. 23 The immediate issue is whether the United States has waived sovereign immunity for 24 plaintiff’s claim of fraud. The Federal Tort Claims Act does not waive sovereign immunity 25 for “claims arising out of . . . misrepresentation [or] deceit.” 28 U.S.C. 2680(h). There is 26 controlling authority from our court of appeals that “claims against the United States for 27 fraud or misrepresentation by a federal officer are absolutely barred by 28 U.S.C. 2680(h).” 28 Owyhee Grazing Ass’n, Inc. v. Field, 637 F.2d 694, 697 (9th Cir. 1981). Accordingly, the 2 1 United States has not waived immunity, and plaintiff’s motion to amend is futile. This is 2 dispositive. 3 2. THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA DOES NOT HAVE JURISDICTION. 4 An independent reason to deny the leave to amend is the District Court for the Northern 5 District of California does not have jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s claim. Patent applicants 6 dissatisfied with a decision regarding their applications from the USPTO may appeal to the 7 District Court for the Eastern District for Virginia or to the United States Court of Appeals for 8 the Federal Circuit. 35 U.S.C. 134; 141; 145. Our court of appeals has stated that “a district 9 court is powerless to grant a patent.” Aetna Steel Products Corp. v. Sw. Products Co., 282 F.2d 10 court is not the appropriate venue. For the Northern District of California United States District Court 323, 334 (9th Cir. 1960). Insofar that plaintiff seeks to have his patent application granted, this 11 12 CONCLUSION 13 Plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend is DENIED. Judgment will be entered for defendant. 14 Plaintiff’s next step should be to notice and perfect and appeal to the court of appeals. 15 16 IT IS SO ORDERED. 17 18 Dated: January 22, 2013. _______________________________ WILLIAM ALSUP 19 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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