IP Law & Business published the article Breaking the (Bar) Code* in their March 2004 issue.
The article has a timeline of events starting in 1953 and continuing through the January 23, 2004 ruling by Judge Phillip Pro.
The article explains how the executives of companies, such as Ford and IBM, allowed their companies to be blackmailed rather than fight the culprit in court. These executives of these companies were more interested in their bottom line than preserving what is right and fair. Following are excerpts from the article.
Arthur Lieberman who represented Mr. Lemelson until 1989 said, “…Lemelson didn’t patent inventions, he invented patents.” A key point was won by Mr. Jenner in 1996 when Judge Lloyd George declared Lemelson’s patents unenforceable. However, this ruling was overturned by another federal judge who said ”… a patent applicant should not be penalized for exploiting the rules.” The extortion continued.
It took two small companies, Cognex Corp. and Symbol Technologies, whose very existence was threatened, to stop this coercion which had already extorted $1.5 billion from various bar code users. Mr. Jenner of the law firm of Fish & Neave, (along with his team which included William McCabe, Steven Cherny, Albert Fey, Pablo Hendler, and Krista Rycroft to name a few) prevailed after more than five years of litigation.
Although the abuse of the system has now been halted, Mr. Hosier (the lawyer for the Lemelson Foundation) made the following comments at the end of the trial. “The judge ruled the way he did and you’ve gotta live with it and move forward with life.“ He certainly is not about to start handing out refunds to the 900 or so companies that have paid the foundation licensing fees. “These were eyes-open deals. You pay your money and you take your chances” said Mr. Hosier.
End of excerpts from the article. My observations follow.
The "abuse" mentioned in the article was Lemelson's use of loop holes in patent law. His technique was to read articles about advances in technology and technical issues. He would withdraw a patent he had pending, add addition claims and resubmit it including these new claims. Patent law at that time allowed the original filling date to be retained. Some of his patents remained pending for decades.
Abuses used by Mr. Jerome Lemelson has finally been stopped by changes in the patent law.
*The article "Breaking the (Bar) Code" is available at: IP Law & Business
I do not have permission to reprint the article here, however I believe I can send a *.pdf file of the article to anyone who requests it under the "fair use" clause of the 1976 Copyright Act.
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Revised: November 2016