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Frederick Taylor v. Matal

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

November 6, 2017

WILLIAM MICHAEL FREDERICK TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH MATAL, performing the functions and duties of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Defendant. WILLIAM MICHAEL FREDERICK TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH MATAL, performing the functions and duties of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Defendant. WILLIAM MICHAEL FREDERICK TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSEPH MATAL, performing the functions and duties of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LEONIE M. BRINKEMA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are post-judgment motions filed by both pro se plaintiff William Michael Frederick Taylor ("Taylor" or "plaintiff) and the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("defendant" or "USPTO"). Plaintiff has filed three identical Motions for Reconsideration ("Pl.'s Mot"), Case No. 1:15-cv-1607, [Dkt. No. 107]; Case No. 1:15-cv-1684, [Dkt. No. 106]; Case No. 1:16-cv-12, [Dkt. No. 99], in which he argues that the Court's decision to grant defendant's motions for summary judgment should be reconsidered. In addition to opposing plaintiffs motions, defendant has filed three identical Motions for Expenses ("Def.'s Mot."), Case No. 1:15-cv-1607, [Dkt. No. 103]; Case No. 1:15-cv-1684, [Dkt. No. 100]; Case No. 1:16-cv-12, [Dkt. No. 95], [1] seeking to recover the reasonable "expenses of the proceedings" the USPTO incurred in this litigation, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 145. All motions have been fully briefed and oral argument would not aid the decisional process. Because nothing in plaintiffs motions convinces the Court that it erred in its decision, his motions for reconsideration will be denied, and because the expenses requested by the USPTO are reasonable and authorized under § 145, its motions will be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The procedural and factual background of these civil actions has been fully recounted in the Court's Memorandum Opinion. See Taylor v. Matal Nos. 15-cv-1607; 15-cv-1684; 16-cv-12, 2017 WL 3446532, at *2-4 (E.D. Va. Aug. 10, 2017) (hereinafter "Mem. Op."). In brief, plaintiff filed three civil actions against defendant under 35 U.S.C. § 145 seeking a de novo review of three patent applications that had been denied by the USPTO. See Case No. 1:15-cv-l 607; Case No. l:15-cv-1684; Case No. 1:16-cv-12. On August 10, 2017, after discovery and full briefing by both parties, the Court entered summary judgment in favor of defendant in all three actions, finding that the evidence "overwhelmingly demonstrate[d] that plaintiff was not in possession of the claimed invention as of the 1993 priority date." See Mem. Op. at *29.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion for Reconsideration[2]

         1. Standard of Review

         A motion to reconsider is usually brought under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59 or 60. Motions to alter or amend final judgments under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) may be granted if necessary "(1) to accommodate an intervening change in controlling law; (2) to account for new evidence not available at trial; or (3) to correct a clear error of law or prevent manifest injustice." Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co., 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir.1998) (citations omitted). The power to grant or deny a motion under Rule 59(e) is discretionary, and "[i]n general reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted); see Robinson v. Wix Filtration Corp., 599 F.3d 403, 411 (4th Cir. 2010).

Rule 60(b) provides, in relevant part, that a court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly-discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b); (3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party; (4) the judgment is void; (5) the judgment that has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or (6) any other reason that justifies relief.

         A movant under Rule 60(b) must also "demonstrate the existence of a meritorious claim or defense" to the action. Square Constr. Co. v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth., 657 F.2d 68, 71 (4th Cir. 1981). A motion for reconsideration is "not authorized when it is nothing more than a request for the district court to change its mind." Lee X v. Casey, 771 F.Supp. 725, 728 (E.D. Va. 1991).[3]

         2. Analysis

         Plaintiffs primary argument is that the Court "overlooked" evidence establishing that he possessed his inventions as of the 1993 priority date by misunderstanding his diagrams and the evidence of his expert. Pl.'s Mot. at 2. As an initial matter, plaintiff raised many of these allegations in the summary judgment pleadings. See, e.g., Mem. Op. at * 16, 18, 26. His arguments essentially boil down to disagreement with the Court's conclusions, which is not a proper basis upon which to reconsider a previous decision, see United States v. Williams, 674 F.2d 310, 312 (4th Cir. 1982) ("Rule 60(b) does not authorize a motion merely for reconsideration of a legal issue."); however, out of deference to plaintiffs pro se status, the Court will consider his arguments.

         For an invention to be patent-eligible, the patentee must "demonstrate that [he] is in possession of the invention claimed." Zoltek Corp. v. United States, 815 F.3d 1302, 1308 (Fed. Cir. 2016). "A mere wish or plan for obtaining the claimed invention does not satisfy the written description requirement." Novozymes A/S v. Dupont Nutrition Biosciences APS, 723 F.3d 1336, 1344 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

         In his motions, plaintiff claims that Figures 2 and 3 of his patent applications "have been overlooked, " Pl.'s Mot. at 3, and that his "original diagram" has been misunderstood, Id. at 5. He disputes the Court's description of his diagram as a "one-page, hand-drawn sketch, " arguing that it shows "micromodal use [of his invention] with orientation, time of day, date and personal preferences ... with wireless connection to theoretical Internet sites." Pl.'s Reply at 4 [Dkt. No. 113]. This argument is unpersuasive. The Memorandum Opinion included a full discussion of both Figures 2 and 3 which were actually reproduced in the opinion and reviewed with reference to the patent specification. See Mem. Op. at *3, 18. Regardless of the characterization of his "original diagram, " visual representations of the desired output of the invention, without more, are insufficient to demonstrate that plaintiff was in possession of the invention as of the claimed priority date. As explained in the Memorandum Opinion, "the question is not whether plaintiff had started work by 1992 but whether he had finished it by May 1993, the priority date on which ...


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