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Wright v. United States

United States Court of Federal Claims

May 1, 2003, Filed

No. 94-1084C

Opinion

 [*351]  DAMICH, Chief Judge.

I. Introduction

The matter before the Court is Plaintiff James E. Wright's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Other Expenses under 28 U.S.C. § 1498(a), 28 U.S.C. § 2412 (Equal Access to Justice Act, or EAJA), and Rule 54(d)(1)-(2) of the Rules of the Court of Federal Claims (RCFC). For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiff's motion is hereby DENIED.

II. Background

United States Patent No. 4,768,417 (the '417 patent) was issued to Plaintiff on September 6, 1988. Its single independent claim was directed toward a detonator net weapon designed to explode upon ignition, thereby damaging an enemy object. Wright v. United States, 53 Fed. Cl. 466, 468 (2002)  [**2]  (Wright II). Plaintiff developed a proposal for a rocket-deployed explosive net for clearing mines utilizing the apparatus claimed by the '417 patent. Id. at 469. Plaintiff presented his proposal to various Navy and Marine offices between 1988 and 1991. Id. at 468-69. In 1991, the Navy had expressed a desire to solve shallow water mine-clearing and surf zone mine-clearing problems. Plaintiff submitted three additional proposals for solving the problem by utilizing his patented invention. Id. at 469. In March 1992, the Government (Defendant) told Plaintiff that it would be developing a system in-house and that Plaintiff's proposal would no longer be considered. Id.

Plaintiff then offered Defendant a license for use of the '417 patent, which was rejected by Defendant. Id. Defendant maintained that the independent claim in Plaintiff's patent was invalid based on prior art not previously disclosed. In response, Plaintiff filed a Request for Reexamination ("Request") of the '417 patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). On March 10, 1994, the USPTO denied the Request, concluding that no new substantial [**3]  question of patentability had been introduced by the references cited therein. Id. This denial affirmed the validity of the '417 patent with respect to the prior art introduced by Defendant. In April 1994, Plaintiff again offered Defendant a license, but that offer was also rejected. As a result of the repeated rejections, Plaintiff commenced the current action on December 21, 1994. Id.

After a lengthy period of discovery and trial, a decision on the merits was issued on February 8, 2002 wherein this Court found that the Defendant infringed the '417 patent under the doctrine of equivalents. Wright v. United States, 51 Fed. Cl. 638 (2002) (Wright I). More specifically, the Court found that of the four limitations in the claim, three were literally present in the accused device, while the fourth limitation was satisfied by the function-way-result test established by the Supreme Court in Warner Jenkinson Co v. Hilton-Davis Chemical Co., 520 U.S. 17, 39-40, 137 L. Ed. 2d 146, 117 S. Ct. 1040 (1997). The Court then issued a decision on August 28, 2002, awarding Plaintiff damages in the amount of $ 704,125.04. Wright II, 53 Fed. Cl. 466 (2002), [**4]  amended by Wright v. United States, 2002 U.S. Claims LEXIS 380, No. 94-1084C, Order (Nov. 20, 2002).

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56 Fed. Cl. 350 *; 2003 U.S. Claims LEXIS 111 **

JAMES E. WRIGHT, Plaintiff, v. THE UNITED STATES, Defendant.

Prior History: Wright v. United States, 2003 U.S. Claims LEXIS 132 (Fed. Cl., Feb. 27, 2003)

Disposition:  [**1]  Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Other Expenses DENIED.

CORE TERMS

patent, infringement, substantial justification, license, detonation, invention, delivery, expenses, prior art, costs, royalty, argues

Civil Procedure, Remedies, Costs & Attorney Fees, General Overview, Patent Law, Damages, Collateral Assessments, Attorney Fees, Business & Corporate Compliance, Patent Law, Infringement Actions, Corporate & Government Infringers, Patentholder Losses, Compensation From United States, Evidence, Burdens of Proof