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Liberty Ammunition Wins Case Against US Army for Patent Infringement

The Bradenton Herald reports that local ammunition manufacturer Liberty Ammunition has won their suit against the US Army alleging patent infringement for their Enhanced Performance Ammunition.

S. Federal Court of Claims Judge Charles F. Lettow filed a decision Dec. 19 in which he found the federal government had infringed on Liberty’s patent for its copper-core, steel-tipped ammunition. Lettow ordered the government to pay two levels of damages, the first being a $15.6 million lump payment. The government was also ordered to pay a 1.4-cent royalty on every bullet it purchases and receives for use. It will make those payments until Liberty’s patent expires in 2027.

While it’s great to see businesses who are taken advantage of by the government gain satisfaction, something very important came out of this verdict for industry. US Federal Court of Claims Judge Charles F. Letto found in his decision that accusations of the Government violating Non-Disclosure Agreements were unfounded as the officials who signed the agreements were not authorized to do so. Let that sink in.

Read the entire story here.


23 Responses to “Liberty Ammunition Wins Case Against US Army for Patent Infringement”

  1. HMFIC says:

    Let me get this straight, the Army was concerned about lead pollution in Afgahanistan from traditional ball bullets? Omg

    • MikeP says:

      Actually, the ‘green ammo’ idea was more of a political justification to parrot to civilian leadership for getting a superior round in the hands of Soldiers. It does penetrate barriers much, much better than M855 and ‘yaws’ sooner in soft tissue, creating a larger permanent wound cavity. The round has gotten some bad press, but it’s hard to argue with its performance.

      • forrest says:

        That and the origonal round developed for the M16 had less than stellar performance with the M4 rifles. I may be mistaken, but I believe changes were made to both the bullet design and to the powder to help fix the issues that soldiers were facing.

        I really wonder about those NDA’s being thrown out. I was unaware that there were classes of people who could be found “not authorized” to sign them, yet were still authorized to sign other contracts… Seems like a bunch of bull to me, but I’m not a high powered judge or attourney. I would think that if you were authorized to sign a weapons contract of any sort, you would be authorized to sign a NDA during the process.

        That and NDA’s/NCA’s are complete BS 90% of the time. I’ve gotten out of more NCA’s than I care to admit when contractors decided to change terms of contracts after they were signed. There are just too many ways out of these agreements to even bother with them anymore. Now I just mark them out and tell people they’ll either hire me without one or not at all. Never had anyone walk away from that offer yet.

        • SSD says:

          These types of NDAs are vendors showing the Government under their skirts and then expecting the Government to keep it to themselves rather than taking the information and running to another vendor with it or using it to develop their own product in-house.

      • Rick says:

        The arguments against it that I have heard all involve the fact that the pressures generated are at or near High Pressure Test rounds. I havent seen any data or heard reports of failures but running that hot of a round is destined to decrease the life span or maintenance intervals on the M4s and M4A1s running it.

  2. Mike Nomad says:

    Uh, wow. So, how would anyone know when someone signing a contract actually has signatory authority? This looks like a sloppy, preemptive strike against future cases against the government. I see a potentially huge chilling effect.

    • SSD says:

      I’m not as worried about contracts. Those are signed by a Contracting Official who has a warrant to do so. My concern is over NDAs which are signed regularly by non-KOs.

    • Flight-ER-Doc says:

      It would seem that the people who signed the NDA are now PERSONALLY liable for any damages….since a court of competent administration has found that they were not acting in accordance with their duties.

      Whoopsie! There goes the house, the pension, the kids college funds.

      • SSD says:

        Very interesting. I hadn’t considered that but it would certainly send a message.

      • Mike Nomad says:

        There are two discreet problems where Liberty was seeking remedy: Infringement, and disclosure. I didn’t see anything in the article that looks like personal liability was established:

        Liberty: Gov violated our NDA.

        Judge: No they didn’t. The person signing on behalf of Gov wasn’t qualified to sign. Therefore, they couldn’t violate an agreement they were not legally able to enter.

        Yes, Liberty will be financially compensated for patent infringement. However, the opportunity for IP to be “accidentally” released into the wild appears to be given a pass.

        That is where I think the chilling effect will manifest. Companies wishing to do business with Gov now have to think about doing the Liberty Ammo Dance: Let Gov take a peak, and if they try to rip off the business, the business has to crank up some legal machinery. Which party has deeper pockets?

        Frankly, I’m surprised that the ruling was as favorable for Liberty as it is.

        • SSD says:

          Companies already deal with this.

        • Armchair Warlord says:


          Here’s the actual text of the decision.

          I would expect this to be overturned on appeal – the court’s reasoning is hardly a slam dunk. I personally found the Government argument on Article 1 of the patent considerably more convincing than Liberty’s, although the judge disagreed with me.

          Moving on to the NDA issue, Liberty was throwing pasta at the wall to see what would stick. Contracting law is very clear as to who can actually enter into agreements on behalf of the government and under what circumstances ratification of unauthorized commitments can be made.

          Regarding personal liability – it is extremely settled law that government employees cannot be personally sued for misdeeds while on duty.

          I also note that, on a meta level (having discussed this with SSD earlier), page 16 of the decision would destroy any claim Crye Precision could lay against the government for use of Scorpion camouflage, or for the government contracting for production independently of Crye. Both points are in fact addressed.

  3. bulldog76 says:

    So liberty ammo sued because of m855a1…

  4. Iceman says:

    That will end up being a lot of coin. Provided that liberty never developed a similar but less effective round under a developmental program 10 years ago.

  5. SN says:

    Maybe the Army will start to understand what intellectual property rights actually mean.

  6. Steve says:

    The only question I would have is how original this idea is. There is no usage of a steel tipped copper bullet prior to 2004? Even I remember some steel tipped bullets from way back and I’m no expert. I guess the devil is in the details.

  7. Stoney says:

    Could this ruling have an affect or set precedence in regards to the camouflage problem?

  8. Ipkiss says:

    Right. Now who signed that camo deal..

  9. Henrik says:

    Do not steal! The goverment does like competition!