Infringment Claim - Mrs. Esther C. Goddard

Robert Goddard, creator of the first liquid-fueled rocket, developed many rocketry techniques which are still in use today, and was awarded 214 patents on these techniques. After his death, his wife sued the United States government for infringing on a number of these patents.

When Konrad K. Dannenberg was Director of the Technical Liaison Group Development Operations Division of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), he was called upon to investigate Esther Goddard's infringement claims. This task was shuffled from Al Flynn in the Administration Office to William Schulze, who in turn delegated to David L. Christensen.

Somewhere along the line, someone annotated the DD95 memo routing slip with "Forwarded to you as a matter pertaining principally to your Section. Sympathetically!" (with "Sympathetically" underlined five times).

Dave was a aerospace consultant working on liquid propulsion systems for the Redstone and Jupiter missile programs. He started his career in rocketry at Fort Bliss in 1953, would go on to be the Project Engineer for the Saturn I's H-1 rocket engine. Now in his eighties, Dave is still pitching proposals to NASA and the Army.

Dave's investigation concluded that the Army had, indeed, infringed on a number of patents. Similar investigations conducted by the Air Force, Navy, and (years later) NASA came to the same conclusion, and the U.S. government eventually settled the matter for $1 million. See Marshall Space Flight Center's Goddard "Historical Perspective" page for additional information.

Dave still has the original AMBA memo in his personal collection, and I was fortunate enough to scan it.

Proceed to download links.

Here are the thumbnails from the DD96 memo and DD95 routing slip:

Esther Goddard patent infringement DD96 disposition form Esther Goddard patent infringement DD96 disposition form

Esther Goddard patent infringement DD96 disposition form Esther Goddard patent infringement DD96 disposition form

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I've prepared three PDFs (note that Acrobat has every-so-helpfully rotated the "received" stamp on the small- and medium-sized PDFs):