A federal judge has ruled the the government infringed on a patent by Liberty Ammunition when they more or less stole the “enhanced performance round” known as the 855A1. The government will owe Liberty a beginning settlement of $15 million, in addition to a per-bullet royalty fee that the government must pay until 2027.
A Bradenton manufacturer of lead-free ammunition has won more than $15 million in a patent infringement lawsuit against the federal government.
Liberty Ammunition filed suit against the Department of Defense in 2011, claiming that the Department of the Army used Liberty’s trade secrets to produce “enhanced performance rounds” for military rifles that were nearly identical to a bullet Liberty patented. The Army has been using lead-free bullets for several years produced by other manufacturers working under military contract.
U.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.
I’m unable to find a good estimate of the number of M855A1 cartridges that the Army consumes in a given year, but considering the M855A1 is the Army’s general purpose rifle 5.56 round, the royalty payments are likely to be substantial. The Army has purchased the M855A1 from ATK in lots of up to 300 million rounds as a time, and a purchase that size would result in a royalty payment to Liberty of $4,200,000.
The Army has until February 19 to appeal the decision.
Update: Fixed screwed up headline and calculation.