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Contractor Using Alleged Infringing Method Is Immune from Patent Infringement Suit


In Sevenson Environmental Services, Inc. v. Shaw Environmental, Inc. (Nos. 06-1391 & -1408; February 21, 2007), the Federal Circuit affirms the district court's decision that a suit against a contractor was barred by government-contractor immunity under 28 U.S.C. § 1498 ("Section 1498"). Sevenson sued Shaw for infringing several patents directed to treating hazardous waste by applying phosphoric acid. In response, Shaw asserted that the U.S. government was the proper defendant under Section 1498, and the district court agreed. On appeal, the Federal Circuit states that Shaw's work under the contract explicitly required the use of the infringing method, and, therefore, Shaw was immune. The panel further states that questions of contract interpretation in contractor-immunity cases are governed by Federal Circuit law. 

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