Date:April 27, 30 2012; May 19, 2012; July 18, 2012; October 31, 2012
This series of stories exposed an outrageous grab for intellectual property that could have raised costs for GPS users around the globe, cracked the relationship between the United States and Great Britain and undermined international technical cooperation. The technology in question, which was to be made available freely to all users, was developed jointly by the United States and the European Union. But a British military lab, whose consultants were in the U.S./EU meetings, quietly filed patents on the technology -- then demanded royalties from U.S. companies. Particularly galling was the fact that the disputed design was quite possibly invented and contributed to the group by U.S. engineers. U.S. officials were outraged. Even so, it was not clear that the United States would challenge the U.K. patents. The technology supported commercial users and, given the ongoing military cooperation between the U.S and the United Kingdom and the countries' long political ties, it appeared for a time that those best able to resolve the matter - U.S. Defense and State Departments - might decline to open discussions.