Mitch Hungerpiller thought there was a first-class solution for mail, which returned as impractical, a common problem for business, sending many letters.
led to more than a decade of struggle with the US Post Office, which said its decision should not be patentable. The dispute David vs. Goliath has already arrived at the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, judges will hear the Hungerpiller case, which includes an analysis of the meaning of patent law from 2011.
"Everything I want is a fair shake," said Hungerpiller, who lives in Birmingham and is a father of three.  Hungerpiller, 56, began to think seriously about returning mail in 1
So he decides to try to solve the problem. He developed a system that uses barcodes, scanning equipment, and computer databases to handle retrieval almost entirely automatically. Its clients, from financial services companies to marketing companies, usually direct their return to Hungerpiller, Return Mail Inc., for processing. Customers can get information about whether the letter has been properly addressed and whether it has a more up-to-date address.
Hungerpiller says the development of the Return Mail system has taken several years. As part of the process, the company is applying for a patent. In 2004, just before Thanksgiving, Hungerpiller called good news. The company will be granted U.S. Patent No. 6,826,548.
"Oh, I was so grateful, Best Thanksgiving Day of my life," he said, describing the phone call as "just a wow moment."
To celebrate, he bought decorative copies of the patent for company executives. His copy, a sheet of paper size paper, hangs in his office next to a picture of his late father.
Even earlier, the post office expressed interest in the Return Mail invention, Hungerpiller said. By 2006, the Government and Return Mail discussed licensing options and the official pilot program. The partnership with the Post Office, Hungerpiller said, would "change my life." The post office, however, developed its own, similar system for handling returned and unrecognized mail, announcing its launch in 2006.
"I was crushed, I have a dagger in my back," said Hungerpiller.
"In the end, we had to cut down workers and employees," said Hungerpiller, adding that he "choked the business".
The post office soon went further. He was trying to return the Return Mail patent but failed. Reverse mail sued the post office, claiming that the government should pay for the use of Return Mail's invention without permission.
A post office spokesman declined to comment on the case as he continued. may have gained supremacy, the post office has changed its tactics by successfully using a law on patent law from 2011 to cancel the Return Mail patent.
Now, at the Supreme Court, Return Mail's lawyers say the post office can not use this law, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, which challenges the Return Mail patent. The law states that "a person who is not the owner of a patent" may file a patent application using the law. The post office is not considered a "man," said Return Mail attorneys. The government disagrees. The Supreme Court will decide who is right.
Hungerpiller said he was pleased that the Supreme Court wanted at least to hear his case. He said that what he went through to get to this point did not make him lose faith in his government. Most days he has an American flag, something he has done since September 11. He calls himself a "proud American".
"It's just a process," he said. "I honestly believe that one day I will receive justice."