ISC Loses Its Appeal
In 2002, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office launched a media campaign to counter invention promotion scams. The public service ads included testimony from inventor Edward Lewis who was quoted: “I spent $13,000 and three years ‘spinning my wheels’ with a company that promised my idea would make lots of money. They were right. It made lots of money . . . for them. I haven’t seen a penny.” Although the ads did not mention the marketing company by name, a reporter was able to uncover the customer’s identity and reported that the company in question was Invention Submission Corporation (ISC). ISC then sued the PTO, alleging that the advertisement campaign was directed at ISC to “penalize it and ultimately to put it out of business.” The district court dismissed ISC’s claim because it was not a “final agency action” that would be reviewable under the APA. On appeal for a second time on this issue, the Fourth Circuit agreed and affirmed the district court’s dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.