A new U.S. court decision gives the government even more rights to use your invention
In the patent arena, the U.S. Congress has set rules for the federal government that differ from those that apply to everyone else. When a patent is infringed for the benefit of the government, the patentee may have rights but cannot sue to stop the infringement. The government’s needs are deemed to override proprietary rights as a matter of public policy.
In the United States, this principle was established in 1918 by an act of Congress that allowed contractors to furnish the government with needed provisions during World War I without fear of becoming liable to patent owners for infringement. The Supreme Court noted this historical background in Richmond Screw Anchor Co. v. U.S. (1928). Today the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade permits governments to grant compulsory licenses under certain circumstances, and the United States and many other countries do so.