Honeywell International Inc. will get $75 million from the U.S. government to end a decade-long patent dispute over night-vision goggle technology used in Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-16 fighter jet.
Honeywell in return will give the government a license to use the technology, according to a judgment entered yesterday by U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Susan Braden. Morris Township, New Jersey-based Honeywell argued in its lawsuit that the government used the invention without compensation before and after the patent was issued in 2002.
The patent relates to modifying the normal color display in an airplane cockpit so controls can be seen with and without the goggles. Night-vision devices can be overwhelmed by red or infrared lights such as those used for warning signals. In addition to the F-16, the technology is used in Lockheed’s C-130H and C-130J transport planes.
The invention originated with Allied Corp. in the 1980s. For national security reasons, the patent application filed in 1985 was kept secret by the government until Honeywell, which bought Allied, amended it so a patent could be issued in 2002. The government reviews patent applications that may have national security implications, and can impose an Invention Secrecy Act Order to keep it from issuing, as the U.S. Navy did in this case.
Braden ruled in December 2012 that Honeywell hadn’t proved the government relied on the secret application when it established the contract specifications, so wasn’t entitled to royalties for the period before the patent issued. She set compensation at $1.89 million, with additional interest to be calculated on the delay in payment.
According to a May filing, Honeywell planned to seek additional compensation for use of the patented invention in other aircraft.
The case is Honeywell International v. USA, 02cv1909, U.S. Court of Federal Claims (Washington).