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Isaac A. Potter, Jr v. United States

May 20, 2011

ISAAC A. POTTER, JR., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STATES DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the United States Court of Federal Claims in case No. 10-CV-346, Judge Lynn J. Bush.

Per curiam.

NOTE: This disposition is nonprecedential.

Before RADER, Chief Judge, and NEWMAN and MOORE, Circuit Judges.

Isaac A. Potter, Jr. (Mr. Potter), appearing pro se, appeals the United States Court of Federal Claims' (Court of Federal Claims) dismissal of his complaint against the United States. Potter v. United States, No. 10-346 C, 2010 WL 4774776 (Fed. Cl. Nov. 17, 2010) (Opinion). Because the Court of Federal Claims properly dismissed Mr. Potter's complaint, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

On June 4, 2010, Mr. Potter filed a complaint against the United States in the Court of Federal Claims seeking injunctive relief and damages for the alleged infringement of his copyrights and trademarks. Supp. App. 17-25.*fn1

Mr. Potter's complaint asserts that he is the valid owner of copyrights and trademarks regarding "The Zodiac Knights 2000." See, e.g., id. at 21-22. Mr. Potter's complaint contains three counts. Count 1 of the complaint requests equitable relief in the form of a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction prohibiting numerous private third parties from future infringement of the copyrights and trademarks at issue. Id. at 24. Count 1 does not seek equitable relief against the United States.*fn2 Count 2 seeks damages against numerous third parties as well as damages against the United States for infringement of Mr. Potter's copyrights and trademarks, and $1,000,000,000 in punitive damages. Id. Count 3 seeks statutory damages for the infringement of Mr. Potter's copyrights and trademarks. Id. Mr. Potter alleges that the United States "allowed infringement" of his copyrights and trademarks between 1992 and 2010. Id. at 25.

On August 3, 2010, the government filed a motion to dismiss Mr. Potter's complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Rules of the United States Court of Federal Claims. The Court of Federal Claims granted the government's motion to dismiss. The Court of Federal Claims first determined that because Count 1 of Mr. Potter's complaint sought equitable relief against private parties, and not the United States, it is beyond the court's jurisdiction. Opinion at *3. Next the Court of Federal Claims addressed Mr. Potter's allegations of copyright and trademark infringement and determined that because the United States did not waive sovereign immunity to such claims, they must be dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Id. at *3-4. Further, the Court of Federal Claims determined that because trademark infringement is a tort, the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Mr. Potter's trademark claims. Id. at *4. The Court of Federal Claims also decided that any enhanced or statutory damages were not available to Mr. Potter. Id. Accordingly, the Court of Federal Claims entered judgment in favor of the United States.

On December 1, 2010, Mr. Potter filed a motion for reconsideration with the Court of Federal Claims. On January 6, 2011, the Court of Federal Claims denied Mr. Potter's motion for reconsideration. Mr. Potter appeals the Court of Federal Claims' dismissal. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(3).

DISCUSSION

We review whether the Court of Federal Claims properly dismissed a complaint for either a lack of jurisdiction or for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted de novo. Boyle v. United States, 200 F.3d 1369, 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2000). Mr. Potter, as the plaintiff, bears the burden of showing jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Taylor v. United States, 303 F.3d 1357, 1359 (Fed. Cir. 2002). We must uphold the Court of Federal Claims' evidentiary rulings absent an abuse of discretion. Id.

"A motion to dismiss . . . for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted is appropriate when the facts asserted by the plaintiff do not entitle him to a legal remedy." Boyle, 200 F.3d at 1372. When reviewing the dismissal, we must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in Mr. Potter's favor. Id.

The Court of Federal Claims properly determined that it did not have jurisdiction over Mr. Potter's request for equitable relief against private parties. The jurisdiction of the Court of Federal Claims extends only to claims against the United States government. Sherwood v. United States, 312 U.S. 584, 588 (1941). The Court of Federal Claims cannot enjoin the numerous non-parties Mr. Potter alleges infringe his copyrights and trademarks.

The Court of Federal Claims also properly dismissed Mr. Potter's copyright and trademark claims because his complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Mr. Potter describes his copyright and trademark claims ...


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