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From Intellectual Property Law Daily, October 6, 2017

Infringement action by inventors of dual handset telephone properly dismissed for lack of jurisdiction

By Linda O’Brien, J.D., LL.M.

The Court of Federal Claims did not err in ruling that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the patent and trademark infringement claims by two inventors of a dual handset telephone against the federal government. The inventors’ patent claims fell outside of the six-year statute of limitations and the court had no jurisdiction to hear the trademark claims. Thus, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Court of Federal Claims’ dismissal of the inventors’ claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (Sacchetti v. United States, October 6, 2017, per curiam).

In November 2015, brothers John and Mark Sacchetti, who claimed to have invented and patented a two-handset telephone for the consumer market and trademarked THE YOU TALK TWO PHONE, filed a lawsuit against the federal government and its various agencies. The plaintiffs asserted claims for patent and trademark infringement. Third-party government contractor, Cyracom International, LLC, joined the suit as a third-party defendant. The government and Cyracom moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the patent claims began to accrue more than six years before the filing of the complaint and therefore fell outside of the jurisdictional six-year statute of limitations and that the Court of Federal Claims had no jurisdiction over the trademark claims.

In November 2016, the Claims Court granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss. The plaintiffs appealed.

Jurisdiction. The court determined that the Claims Court did not err in dismissing the patent claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. A six-year statute of limitations is imposed on any cause of action filed in the Claims Court under 28 U.S.C. §2501. Here, the plaintiffs claimed that they were entitled to compensation on the ground that the government had infringed their patents. The statute of limitations began to run when the government first used the claimed invention without authorization and that specific use was not considered continuous in nature, the court explained. All of the allegations concerning the government’s first unauthorized use of the patents-in-suit began before November 19, 2009, and the plaintiffs failed to allege that a purportedly infringing product was first used by or for the government within the six-year limitations period. Thus, the patent claims were properly dismissed.

Finally, the Claims Court correctly held that the trademark claims must be brought in a federal district court pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §1121(a) and 28 U.S.C. §§1491-1509. Because the Claims Court was not a court of competent jurisdiction for the trademark claims, those claims were correctly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the court concluded.

The case is No. 2017-1484.

Attorneys: John Stephen Sacchetti, pro se. Jenna Elizabeth Munnelly, U.S. Department of Justice, for the United States. Lawrence Kasten (Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP) for Cyracom International, LLC.

Companies: Cyracom International, LLC

MainStory: TopStory Patent Trademark FedCirNews

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