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Small Business v. U.S. Government: 3rd Eye Patent Infringement Case

The U.S. federal government, specifically, the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, National security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other agencies, are being sued for alleged patent infringement.  A small business that holds a patent for digital video surveillance systems sued these U.S federal government agencies for alleged patent infringement of its 3rd Eye Surveillance system.

The plaintiffs commenced the lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims claiming unlawful use of the company’s three video and image surveillance system patents and seek damages over $1 billion in damages. The plaintiffs, 3rd Eye Surveillance and Discovery Patents, LLC, claim the government has “knowingly infringed 3rd Eye’s patent rights” and this has resulted in the company’s inability to do business. The lawsuit seeks damages for the government’s unlicensed past, present, and future use of the technology. The license to use the technology is worth more than $1 billion. The judgment will hinge on the scope of the use of the surveillance technology throughout the United States.

The founder of Discovery Patents, and the inventor of 3rd Eye Surveillance, James Otis Faulkner, created the technology in question in 2002 as a way to improve security alarm systems and as a way to safeguard people and property from medical emergencies, crime, terror acts, and natural disasters. Faulkner’s real-time surveillance system, which includes the process of communicating real-time video and images to emergency personal and multiple databases to allow law enforcement to assess menacing situations, was created following September 11 and filed a patent application on July 8, 2002.  Two subsequent surveillance system patents were issued on September 28, 2004 and January 29, 2008 to include voice and facial recognition systems.  Plaintiff’s complaint alleged the U.S. government has used infringing systems without a license and used the infringing surveillance systems with third party consultants and contractors.

This lawsuit is one of the largest cases against the federal government. The plaintiffs has said that even though they are happy their systems are widely used and helpful to the government, the unlicensed use of the technology is essentially exploiting the patents and impeding the small company’s ability to do business.