Summary judgment of immunity from infringement granted in favor of Accuride Corporation
In an important decision for companies bidding on government contracts or supplying bidders on government contracts, Judge Freda L. Wolfson of the District of New Jersey issued an order granting summary judgment of immunity from infringement in favor of Finnegan client Accuride Corporation. Accuride was accused of infringing a patent on an automotive wheel for use with an onboard tire inflation system. Accuride supplied the accused wheel to companies bidding on a U.S. Army solicitation for a military all-terrain vehicle (M-ATV) intended to better protect U.S. soldiers, sailors, airman, and marines in Afghanistan from roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In a detailed 29-page opinion, Judge Wolfson found that the U.S. Government had implicitly authorized and consented to liability for any potentially infringing onboard tire inflation system when wheels were supplied in the bidding phase of the M-ATV military contract. Specifically, Judge Wolfson found that Accuride was immune from any liability for patent infringement under 28 U.S.C. § 1498(a), which is the federal statute that provides that claims for patent infringement occurring in government contracts must be against government and must be brought in the Court of Federal Claims.