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.