The Secretary of State to the British Chargé (Chilton)

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the memorandum which Sir John Broderick77 handed to an officer of this Department on January 5, 1928, concerning claims of British nationals in respect to the use by the Government of the United States of patented or unpatented inventions of British subjects, and to invite attention to the following considerations after consultation with the interested authorities of this Government and very careful examination of the suggestions of your Government.

The Court of Claims of the United States now provides a remedy for British subjects in cases of patented inventions which is the equivalent of the remedy provided in similar cases for American citizens. No adequate reason is set forth in the Embassy’s memorandum for giving to British subjects a special tribunal different from that provided for the trial and determination of claims of citizens of foreign countries other than Great Britain.

From an examination of the claims submitted with the Embassy’s memorandum it appears that they are largely those of British officers and that the inventions were submitted to the United States by the British Government. Prior to the Act of Congress approved April 30, 1928,78 inventions of officers of the Army or Navy of the United States belonged to this Government, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary it would not seem equitable for this Government to decline to pay American officers for those inventions and to provide payment for similar inventions of officers of a foreign Government furnished by it as an aid in the prosecution of the war.

As regards any remedies which American citizens may have under British law, it may be pointed out that such remedy is not a matter of right but a matter of grace voluntarily granted by the British Government as a matter of policy and not at the request of the Government of the United States.

Furthermore, it would seem from the evidence presented that some of these claims are based upon unpatented inventions. It is contrary to the long established policy of this Government to protect such inventions or to consider claims for royalties in respect to them.

As these inventions are understood to have been turned over to officers of the Army or Navy of the United States by the British [Page 1001] Government and not by the inventors, and as there was apparently no indication at that time that this Government was expected to pay for the use of the inventions, it seems clear that the claims do not have a legal basis.

In view of the foregoing it is not found possible to give favorable consideration to the request contained in the Embassy’s memorandum that a special tribunal be established for the consideration of these claims.

Accept [etc.]

Frank B. Kellogg
  1. Commercial Counselor of the British Embassy.
  2. 45 Stat. 467.