Recently, a small business that designs, installs and services digital video surveillance systems, 3rd Eye Surveillance, sued the United States federal government for alleged patent infringement. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking damages exceeding $1 billion for unlawful use of the company’s three video and image surveillance system patents – U.S. Patent Nos. 6,778,085, 6,798,344, and 7,323,980. The surveillance system patents are owned by Discovery Patents, LLC of Baltimore Maryland, who is also a Plaintiff in the case, and exclusively licensed by 3rd Eye Surveillance.
“The federal government has knowingly infringed 3rd Eye’s patent rights and has impeded the company’s ability to do business,” said Stephen A. Kennedy, lead counsel and a shareholder at Kennedy Law, P.C. “This lawsuit seeks a license for past, present and future use of the technology by the federal government. The license is worth much more than $1 billion, and the judgment will depend on the scope of the use of this surveillance technology throughout the country.”
James Otis Faulkner, the founder of Discovery Patents, invented the surveillance system in 2002 to improve residential and commercial security alarm systems while helping safeguard people and property from potential emergencies, including criminal activity, acts of terror, natural disasters and medical emergencies.
“I originally invented and patented the real-time surveillance systems following September 11 to help connect multiple databases and allow law enforcement to assess potentially life-threatening situations in real time before acting,” said Faulkner, inventor and patent holder. “The intent of these patents was to save money and lives.”
Faulkner’s invention includes the process of sending real-time surveillance video and images to emergency personnel through a communications link. Two subsequent surveillance system patents were issued to encompass voice and facial recognition software. This trio of patents, which have been successfully used against more than 10 municipalities and private businesses, allows for the provision of real-time surveillance video, audio recognition, facial recognition and infrared images to emergency responders and defense agencies. The complaint alleges that the United States has “deployed unlicensed and infringing surveillance systems through numerous consultants and contractors…”
“We are thrilled our system has been widely adopted and so helpful for the government, but exploiting these patents without a license cripples our ability to survive as a small business,” said Offie Wiseman, co-owner of 3rd Eye Surveillance.
The lawsuit identifies the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other prominent government organizations among the patent infringers, making this lawsuit one of the largest cases against the federal government in recent history. The litigation covers surveillance used to monitor secure areas for real-time threat assessments, including the protection of government assets and officials, public locations and monitoring space from ground level.
The surveillance system patents in dispute trace their earliest priority date from a provisional patent application filed by Faulkner on July 8, 2002. The voice and facial recognition patents were issued Sept. 28, 2004 and Jan. 29, 2008 respectively. In 2012, Faulkner negotiated exclusive licensing rights of the three surveillance system patents to 3rd Eye Surveillance, which is based in Plano, Texas.