Secret-Decoder Ring Inventors Beware

Posted by Tom Burke

Inventors of devices that may be of interest to the security-focused federal government might take note of Crater v. Lucent, a recent decision of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The case features a fascinating discussion of the "state secrets privilege," used in this case to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by an inventor who, inspired by the symmetrical halves of a tennis ball, created a coupler for connecting pipes without threads or bolted flanges. The problem? The invention had military applications which ultimately led to the dismissal of the inventor's infringement action on national security grounds. See Kevin Poulsen of Wired who followed this interesting case.

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