WASHINGTON (AP) – Mitch Hunger pills thought he had a first class solution for mail that is returned as unavailable, a common problem for businesses that send many letters.
But the process he helped develop and build his little Alabama technology company around, has resulted in a more than decade-long battle with the US postal service, saying his solution should not be patentable. The David vs Goliath dispute has now come to the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, justice will hear the Hunger Games, which involves analyzing the significance of a 2011 patent law.
"All I want is a good shake," Hunger pills, who lives in Birmingham and is a father of three.  Hunger pills, 56, began to seriously think about returning mail in 1999 when working with computer consulting. While visiting clients, he kept an eye on large drawers of returned mail. He reads that every year billions of pieces of mail are returned as indivisible, expensive companies and postal service and money.
Then he decided to try to solve the problem. He developed a system that uses barcodes, scanning equipment and databases to process returned mail almost completely. His clients, from financial services to marketing companies, typically send their returned emails to Hunger games company, Return Mail Inc., for processing. Clients can get information on whether the record was actually properly addressed and whether it is a more current address.
Hunger pills say that the development of the Return Mail system took several years. As part of the process, the company applied for a patent. In 2004, just before Thanksgiving, Hunger pills got a good news call. The company would be issued US Patent No. 6,826,548. "19659005]" Oh, I was so grateful, best gratitude for my life, "he said, describing the phone call as" just a wow moment. "
To celebrate, he purchased decorative copies of the patent for business executives. His copy, a plaque about the size of a piece of paper, hangs in the office next to a painting of his late father.
Although the postal service expressed interest in the return item's invention, hunger pills said. In 2006, the government and the return record talked about licensing opportunities and a formal pilot program. Partnering with the postal service, Hunger pills said, would have "changed my life." But the postal service developed its own similar system for processing returned and non-transferable mail, and was launched in 2006.
"I was crushed. I got a dagger in the back," Hunger pills.
And his business led.
"The bottom line is that we had to lay off employees," said Hunger pills and added that the "choking business."
The postal service soon went on. It attempted to get the Return Mail patent invalid but failed. Return Mail sued the postal service and claimed that the government should pay to use Return Mail's invention without permission.
A spokesman for the postal service refused to comment on the case because it was in progress.
Like Hunger Pills thought his company could get hold of the transition, the postal service switched tactics, successfully using a patent law in 2011 to invalidate Return Mail's patent.
Now, in the Supreme Court, Return Mail's lawyers claim that the postal service cannot use that law, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, to challenge Return Mail's patent. The law states that a "person who does not own the patent" can submit a patent challenge using the law. The postal service does not count as a "person", says the return post's lawyers. The government disagrees. The Supreme Court will decide who is right.
Hungerist said he is happy that the Supreme Court will have at least hear his case. He said what he has been through to get to this point, has not made him lose faith in his government. Most days he uses an American flag stick, something he has done since 9/11. He calls himself a "proud American."
"This is just a process," he said. "I honestly believe that someday I will get justice."