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Inventor Of Secret Goggles Can't Sue Government

•  Recent Cases     updated  2008/05/12 09:01


The inventor of color-compatible night-vision goggles lacks standing to sue the government for compensation under the Invention Secrecy Act, after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office withheld his patent for 14 years on "national security" grounds, the Court of Federal Claims ruled.

Richard Cohen, an inventor with Honeywell International, filed a patent application in 1985 for "night vision goggles compatible with full color display." The PTO forwarded his application to defense agencies, and the Department of the Navy requested a secrecy order to keep his application under wraps.

When the order was lifted in 2000, Honeywell experienced rejection after rejection of its original and new patent applications.  The company blamed the rejection of a related 2002 patent application on the 14-year delay, and sought compensation under the Invention Secrecy Act.

But Honeywell's newer patent was not based on the original patent, so Honeywell failed to establish a causal link between the secrecy order and the company's alleged damages.

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