Justia Patents Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Aerospace/Defense
FastShip, LLC v. United States
The Navy began a program to design and build littoral combat ships (LCS) and issued a request for proposals. During the initial phase of the LCS procurement, FastShip met with and discussed a potential hull design with government contractors subject to non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements. FastShip was not awarded a contract. FastShip filed an unsuccessful administrative claim, alleging patent infringement. The Claims Court found that the FastShip patents were valid and directly infringed by the government. The Federal Circuit affirmed.The Claims Court awarded FastShip attorney’s fees and expenses ($6,178,288.29); 28 U.S.C. 1498(a), which provides for a fee award to smaller entities that have prevailed on infringement claims, unless the government can show that its position was “substantially justified.” The court concluded that the government’s pre-litigation conduct and litigation positions were not “as a whole” substantially justified. It unreasonable for a government contractor to gather information from FastShip but not to include it as part of the team that was awarded the contract and the Navy took an exceedingly long time to act on FastShip’s administrative claim and did not provide sufficient analysis in denying the claim. The court found the government’s litigation positions unreasonable, including its arguments with respect to one document and its reliance on the testimony of its expert to prove obviousness despite his “extraordinary skill.” The Federal Circuit vacated. Reliance on this pre-litigation conduct in the fee analysis was an error. View "FastShip, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law
General Electric Co. v. United Technologies Corp.
UTC’s patent is generally directed to a gas turbine engine having a gear train driven by a spool with a low stage count low-pressure turbine, designed for use in airplanes. GE sought inter partes review. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that the claims at issue were not unpatentable for obviousness. UTC moved to dismiss GE’s appeal for lack of standing, arguing that an appellant does not automatically possess standing to appeal an adverse Board decision.GE submitted a Declaration by Long, GE’s Chief IP Counsel, explaining that because the design of aircraft engines can take eight years or more, GE develops new engines based on old designs; in the 1970s, GE developed a geared turbofan engine for NASA. GE asserted that UTC's patent impedes its ability to use that design as a basis for future geared turbofan engine designs, thereby limiting the scope of GE’s engine designs and its ability to compete. Long declared that designing around the patent restricts GE’s design choices and forced GE to incur additional research and development expenses. Long declared that Boeing requested information from GE and its competitors for engine designs for future Boeing aircraft with information regarding designs for both geared-fan engines and direct-drive engines; GE researched a geared-fan engine design that would potentially implicate UTC’s Patent but chose not to submit a geared-fan engine design.The Federal Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of Article III standing. GE’s purported competitive injuries are too speculative to support constitutional standing. Long’s declarations are the only evidence of standing and neither shows concrete and imminent injury to GE related to the patent. View "General Electric Co. v. United Technologies Corp." on Justia Law
FastShip, LLC v. United States
FastShip’s patents, entitled “Monohull Fast Sealift or Semi-Planing Monohull Ship,” relate to a “fast ship whose hull design in combination with a waterjet propulsion system permits, for ships of about 25,000 to 30,000 tons displacement with a cargo carrying capacity of 5,000 tons, transoceanic transit speeds of up to 40 to 50 knots in high or adverse sea states.” FastShip sued the government, alleging patent infringement under 28 U.S.C. 1498. FastShip alleged that the Navy’s Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships, LCS-1 and LCS-3, infringed various claims. Following the Court of Federal Claims’ opinion construing various terms, the government successfully moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that the LCS3 was not “manufactured” by or for the government within the meaning of section 1498 before the patents expired. The court held that LCS-1 infringed the claims and awarded FastShip $6,449,585.82 in damages plus interest. The Federal Circuit affirmed, modifying the damages award. The court interpreted “manufactured” in section 1498 in accordance with its plain meaning, such that a product is “manufactured” when it is made to include each limitation of the thing invented and is therefore suitable for use; although other portions of LCS-3 had been completed, the “waterjet” and “hull” limitations had not been completed before the patent’s expiration. View "FastShip, LLC v. United States" on Justia Law
Zoltek Corp. v. United States
In 1996, Zoltek sued, alleging that the process used to produce carbon fiber sheet materials for the B-2 Bomber and the F-22 Fighter Plane, with the consent of the Air Force and Navy, infringed its patent. The Federal Circuit answered a certified question, holding that the patentee has no claim against the government when any step of the patented method is practiced outside of the U.S., as for the F-22. On remand, the Claims Court granted Zoltek leave to substitute as defendant Lockheed, the F-22’s general contractor. The Federal Circuit then acted en banc and reversed its earlier ruling, recognizing the liability of the United States for infringement by acts that are performed with its authorization and consent, citing 28 U.S.C. 1498(a), and dismissed Lockheed. On remand, the Claims Court separated trial of the issues of validity and infringement and denied discovery as to infringement with respect to the F-22. The Federal Circuit denied a petition for mandamus. The Claims Court sustained patent eligibility, but held the asserted claims invalid on the grounds of obviousness and inadequate written description. The Federal Circuit held that in these circumstances, given the government’s official invocation of state secret privilege, the court acted within its discretion in limiting trial initially to issues of validity, but erred in its judgment of patent invalidity. View "Zoltek Corp. v. United States" on Justia Law
Astornet Techs., Inc. v. BAE Sys., Inc.
Astornet alleges that it is sole exclusive licensee and owner of all rights in the 844 patent, issued in 2009 to Haddad as the inventor and entitled “Airport vehicular gate entry access system” and asserted the patent against NCR, MorphoTrust USA, and BAE Astornet alleged that the three had contracts with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to supply boarding-pass scanning systems; that TSA’s use of the equipment infringed and would infringe the patent; and that NCR and MorphoTrust were bidding for another contract to supply modified equipment whose use by TSA would also infringe. The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal, finding that Astornet’s exclusive remedy for the alleged infringement was a suit against the government in the Court of Federal Claims under 28 U.S.C. 1498. View "Astornet Techs., Inc. v. BAE Sys., Inc." on Justia Law