USPS Sued For Patent Infringement

March 2, 2011 — Return Mail, Inc. filed a lawsuit on February 28, 2011,against the federal government alleging that the United States Postal Service is using the company’s patented process for handling undeliverable mail without permission. The lawsuit seeks compensation for unauthorized use of Return Mail’s patent. Covington & Burling LLP attorneys represent Return Mail.

Return Mail, a Birmingham, Alabama, corporation founded in 2000, invented an automated system that processes returned and undeliverable mail. Return Mail’s system provides benefits and costs savings to mailers. For example, it allows mailers to reduce the costs of manual handling and processing of return mail. It also improves the accuracy of the delivery of invoices, thereby increasing revenue for mailers using Return Mail’s system. The United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Return Mail United States Patent Number 6,826,548 (“ ’548 Patent) for this invention.

Return Mail alleges in its complaint filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims that the Postal Service met with Return Mail at least five times to discuss licensing Return Mail’s invention. During those meetings, according to the complaint, the Postal Service learned the details of Return Mail’s invention and ultimately approved a pilot program to use it.

Return Mail invested millions of dollars and spent years developing its innovative and cost-saving system. In its complaint, Return Mail alleges that instead of licensing and paying for the use of Return Mail’s invention, the Postal Service took Return Mail’s invention and used it to create its own address change service called OneCode Address Correction Service (or “OneCode ACS”). The Postal Service projects savings of hundreds of millions of dollars each year from this system — so much that the Postal Service announced that it would offer OneCodeACS to its customers at no charge in most cases. Return Mail’s complaint alleges that the Postal Service’s announcement destroyed Return Mail’s business, forcing it to lay-off most of its employees.

As recounted in the complaint, the Postal Service asked the Patent and Trademark Office to invalidate Return Mail’s ’548 Patent. The PTO, however, rejected the Postal Service’s efforts, and on January 4, 2011, issued a reexamination certificate confirming the validity of Return Mail’s patent.

3 thoughts on “USPS Sued For Patent Infringement

  1. It is out and out theft, but then, doesn’t this seem like part and parcel of the USPS?

    Everyone knows that the USPS is top heavy as well as having a lot of workers who drag out or fake Workers Comp claims, making it harder for those who are really injured to get a claim through. We had one guy who was on light duty who had his picture in the paper for restoring, all by himself, an antique home. A copy was put up at the PO and one sent to the OIG, nothing was done about it. He was on light duty to an on the job back injury. The PO is a joke.

    As for unions, I have yet to see two of our union employees do any work since they got new PMs. My inbox on my computer is filled with e-mails related to other unions, other corporations and not ours. When does this person find the time? It is on the clock, according to the times written.

    Also, one of these reps filed a claim incorrectly for me, I lost, the district rep told me that he filed it wrong and now he is blaming the district rep. Meantime, I am out $277 and no way to re-coop.

    I am about to become a scab. I see NO good in our union. I attended a union meeting. All they did was sit around and bi**** about others. No wonder out of a two hundred man hour office, less than ten people ever attend. IT IS BORING.

    I only went to air my problem with the union president, as did my husband, but didn’t get anywhere.

  2. Don’t look at USPS management.

    Everything is the union’s fault!

    Look at the unions!


    The unions are destroying the Postal Service.

    Unions bad! USPS management good!

    Fire more union slugs!

    Hire more USPS supervisors and managers!

    Hurry, before it is too late!

  3. Whether it is internal or external, the lack of ehtics (Maryanne Gibbons, head Counsel for the Postal Service) is disgraceful. How could they possibly ask for someone elses patent to be invalidated so they can use it without having to pay?

    And,most of all, WHO, authorized this criminal action? How did the Postal legal dept come up with evidence to support this.

    The Post Office should be ashamed of what they did and the subsequent damages to the private company.

    Where is the congressional oversight here ? I guess if Congress is not asccountable for their actions then HOW can they hold anyone else accountable for theirs ?

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