Yesterday we wrote about the questions surrounding Jerome Lemelson's legacy as an inventor. Many who have been sued by his lawyers claim that he's nothing more than a patent hoarder, who continually manipulated the system to squeeze money out of companies that were actually doing something. It turns out that was just part one of a two part story. Lemelson's legal team didn't necessarily go after makers of machine vision technology, but went directly after their customers. One of the machine vision companies, Cognex, was sick of its customers being sued, and against the advice of many, the CEO of that company went after the Lemelson Foundation and won. The article is a little misleading. It suggests he was crazy to do so (it literally quotes Lemelson's lawyer as saying the guy is "certifiably insane." However, that's not true. Lemelson's lawyers were bullying Cognex's customers, and that makes it more difficult for Cognex to do business. So it was a perfectly rational decision. The case is still being appealed, but hasn't received that much attention. This is too bad, as the issue of patent hoarding is being too easily brushed aside, when it's having a serious impact on many companies' ability to innovate and bring products to market.
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