Did Patent Hawk Violate Contracts In Suing Microsoft?

from the integrity? dept

During the summer, we wrote about how Gary Odom, perhaps better known as The Patent Hawk for his patent consulting business, had sued Microsoft over a patent on user-configurable toolbars. Odom has been known to comment here, using a style all-too common among some of our critics: insult liberally while refusing to offer any actual points. Joe Mullin has turned up a lot more details on this particular case, including the fact that not only was Microsoft a former client of Odom, but as part of his contract he promised not to file for certain patents himself or file patent infringement lawsuits against the company. On top of that, while working for Microsoft, he had access to confidential Microsoft info, including the company’s patent strategy.

Odom, not surprisingly, disputes Microsoft’s version of the events — and points out that whatever contracts he signed are no longer relevant, since he has not worked with Microsoft in years. However, there are some questions concerning when he filed this particular patent, and whether or not he disclosed that activity to Microsoft or the law firm that he worked for during some of this period. Interestingly, Odom also is perfectly happy to admit that he thinks Microsoft came up with their toolbar version totally independently (which, again, some of us believe should be proof of obviousness).

Even if we grant Odom’s version of the story, you have to wonder if the long-term results of this case will come back to haunt him. Given the facts laid out here, I would think that an awful lot of companies that might use Odom’s services as a patent researcher will now be rethinking him as a potential consultant.

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Companies: microsoft, patent hawk

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Comments on “Did Patent Hawk Violate Contracts In Suing Microsoft?”

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14 Comments
DanC says:

Odom deleted his response....

Gary Odom originally responded to Mullin’s article on his site, but later removed it. Coincidentally, the removal occurred not long after Mullin posted a comment to it asking what details he got wrong.

Odom’s response:

Inside Job

Joe Mullin penned a sagging saga of supposedly secret patenting in his entry about Odom v. Microsoft. The Joe Zone of the Unknown will shrink soon, as infringement contentions are due Friday.

Joe seemed mesmerized by Microsoft’s bodacious brouhaha about long-expired contracts, flashed his claim construction IQ, and got some details wrong. But, hey, he’s just a reporter for the mainstream press, working his beat.

But there is drama afoot in this case. If this is something “more than a garden-variety patent case,” as Microsoft contends, it has more to do with the size of the garden patch than with its contention of “misconduct that gives rise to Microsoft’s defense of equitable estoppel, waiver, and unclean hands.”

Some of the most ridiculous comedy comes packaged as serious as a rattlesnake. Time will tell whose hands are clean. Markman hearing in Odom v. Microsoft is set for November 12, 2009, with trial set for June 7, 2010, in Tyler Texas.

This blogger begs the understanding of its readers that, being a litigant in an active case, discretion is necessary. Your questions are most likely to go unanswered. Thanks.

Franssu says:

I think this exposes rather convincingly the degree of ethics of the aforementioned Patent Hawk. The kind of guy who will not hesitate to go to the limit of what is permited by law in the pursuit of his own narrow-minded interests. The problems with going to the limit of legality or commonsense is that sometimes you cross it without even minding.
This is definitely not the kind of guy I would want to make business with.

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