Sunday, April 06, 2008

On Fighting Giants

In a blogpost about the Microsoft/Alacatel business (Who cares who the real patent winner is in the Alcatel-Lucent v. Microsoft fight?), Susan Wilson wrote:

On March 26th, I wrote about Dr. Gertrude Neumark Rothschild’s patent battle against such giants as LG, Sony, Nokia and others. She developed crucial processes used in the manufacture of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). She is just one person fighting a lot of giants. Rather than being rightfully paid for her innovation, she is having to sue the large companies. The cost of such suits is enormous and without the seemingly endless sources of money that the large companies have, she may find that she is just not wealthy enough to continue the law suits. Besides the court costs and legal fees, there is also the loss of the clients time and resources because they are required to be in court for most of the proceedings. Then the case moves into the appeal stage after the verdict is returned regardless of which way the verdict went. So the money goes even faster with higher fees.

IPBiz had posted the words of Charlotte Gray describing Alexander Graham Bell's patent lawsuit more than 125 years ago:
"The American Bell Telephone Company, with Gardiner Hubbard at the controls, launched a suit against Western Union, accusing the company of infringing Bell's patent. It was a wildly uneven battle -- an underfinanced, sickly David against a mighty, well-capitalized Goliath."

Stanford's Mark Lemley characterized the Bell/Gray dispute in the following manner:

“It’s not that we wouldn’t have had the telephone. Not only would we have had it, we would have had it the same day,” Mr. Lemley said, adding: “The people who aren’t the winners in the historical dispute sort of fade into obscurity.”

Lemley could say the same thing about Rothschild that he said about the telephone.

[IPBiz note: Gray aligned himself with Western Union. Seeing that Bell's patent was strong, Western Union settled the lawsuit.
In the matter of the Wright Brothers, the patent pool caused by World War I "settled" the dispute between the Wrights and Curtiss. Henry Ford had provided Curtiss with his lawyer, Benton Crisp, to fight the Wrights, and it was Crisp who wrote the pool agreement, which provided Curtiss a lot of money. Curtiss would go on to speculate in Florida real estate. The patent pool effectively excluded smaller innovators from participation.]

***See also

Are corporations a source of nanotechnology invention?, mentioning work of Iijima on nanotubes.


Post a Comment

<< Home