In IRIS CORP. v. JAPAN AIRLINES CORP., Appeal No. 2010-1051, the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision to dismiss due to a conflict of laws.
IRIS owns a patent claiming methods for making a secure identification document containing an embedded computer chip that stores biographical or biometric data. IRIS sued JAL for patent infringement, alleging that JAL infringed IRIS’s patent by using electronic passports covered by IRIS’s patent in the processing or boarding of passengers. The district court granted JAL’s motion to dismiss because the patent law on which IRIS relied conflicted with federal laws governing the examination of passports. Therefore, the district court held that IRIS’s exclusive remedy was an action against the United States and that JAL was exempt from infringement liability under 28 U.S.C. § 1498(a).
On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed JAL’s motion to dismiss. The Federal Circuit held that the United States has assumed liability as JAL’s activities were (1) conducted “for the Government” and (2) conducted “with the authorization or consent of the Government” under 28 U.S.C. § 1498(a). Specifically, JAL’s actions were “for the Government” because JAL’s examination of passports improves the detection of fraudulent passports and reduces demands on government resources. Also, JAL’s actions were conducted “with the authorization or consent of the Government,” as JAL cannot comply with its legal obligations without engaging in the allegedly infringing activities.