The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) recently issued a so-called en banc (all judges of the court) decision with great importance to Federal Government contractors. In Zoltek Corp. v. United States, Fed. Cir., No. 2009-5135, March 14, 2012 ("Zoltek II"), the Court redefined the scope of the statute underlying the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) "Authorization and Consent" clause, 28 U.S.C. §1498. In so doing, the Court confirmed Federal Government contractor immunity from patent infringement suits in instances where the patent infringement may have occurred in whole or in part outside of the United States. The more fundamental holding of the case was to reverse its own prior decision in the same case (“Zoltek I”), in which the CAFC had held that §1498 does not waive Federal Government patent immunity from certain patent infringements occurring in part outside the United States.
- Check, is the patent rights clause in your RFP?
- Should it be?
- The clause gives government rights in "subject inventions."
- You have a "subject invention" if:
- It is "conceived" or
The United States has long been the world’s principal purchaser of (a) research and development services, (b) the products generated by the R&D, and (c) the intellectual property relating to that R&D. Historically, Government-funded R&D has evoked images of an omnipresent, overly intrusive, audit-fixated purchaser bent on levying a host of required terms and conditions on the seller, many of which are wholly unrelated to the underlying R&D and are designed solely to advance socio-economic policies and preferences. For these (and other) reasons, companies, particularly new and emerging companies, are often reluctant to accept federal funding to advance their privately conceived and privately developed ideas.