Sevenson Environmental v. Shaw Environmental (Fed. Cir. 2007)
Colonie NY has a lead-contamination problem. The site is owned by the US Government, and Shaw was hired to help with the remediation. Sevenson holds several patents on methos for cleaning up waste by applying phosphoric acid. Sevenson sued Shaw for infringement, but the district court dismissed the case — finding that the US Gov’t is the proper defendant.
Shaw’s contract with the US Gov’t authorize shaw to “all use and manufacture” of any patented invention whose use is necessary to comply with the contract. The contract dovetails with 28 USC 1498, which provides that a patent holder’s claims arising out of a a contractor’s infringement accure against the US and must be brought in US Court of Federal Claims. (So long as the contractor’s infringement was “for the United States” was authorized by the US).
Government Authorization: Although Gov’t authorization is generally narrowly construed, the appellate panel agree that the Government had authorized use of Sevenson’s patented method because Shaw’s written specifications called for use of those methods and those specs formed part of Shaw’s binding contract.
Holding: The lower court properly dismissed Sevenson’s claims. If Sevenson wants an award, it must pursue the US Gov’t in the Court of Federal Claims.