Infringement Suit Must Target United States Where Private Entity is Legally Required to Perform Quasi-Governmental Functions


Iris Corp. v. Japan Airlines Corp., ___ F.3d. ___ (October 21, 2014) (Prost, Newman, HUGHES) (E.D.N.Y.: Amon) (3 of 5 stars)

Federal Circuit affirms dismissal of patent infringement complaint because the alleged infringement was performed "for the United States" under 28 U.S.C. § 1498(a).

The Federal Circuit held that Japan Airlines's examination of electronic passports was performed "for the United States" under § 1498(a) and that Iris's sole remedy for any resulting patent infringement was a suit against the United States in the Court of Federal Claims. In determines that the government had provided its authorization and consent, the court explained that Japan Airlines "cannot comply with its legal obligations without engaging in the allegedly infringing activities." Slip op. at 4. The Federal Circuit ruled that the alleged infringement was for the benefit of the U.S. government because the "examination of passports improves the detection of fraudulent passports and reduces demands on government resources." Id. at 5. The court thus held that, "[w]hen the government requires private parties to perform quasi-governmental functions...those actions are undertaken—for the benefit of the government.'" Id. at 6. The Court also noted that the United States, participating as amicus curiae, agreed that the alleged infringement was for its benefit.