Kelly 271: Serco’s Colliding-Navy Toyshop, Rothschild’s Con Air Death Pools, SES Pig Farm Buck
General John F. Kelly
White House Chief of Staff
Washington, D.C. 20528
Open letter from the Cloud Centric Crime Scene Investigators of Abel Danger
May 11, 2018
Dear General Kelly:
Please accept Brief 271 from Field McConnell – United States Marine Corps whistle-blower and Global Operations Director of Abel Danger (AD) – wherein he and his research team at Abel Danger plan to help injured communities launch crowd-funded class-action lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs where victims died wrongfully as a result of the negligent, reckless, wilful, fraudulent or covert use of patented devices including the U.S. Navy’s anti-collision and automated identification friend-or-foe systems transferred or derived from the late Winston Churchill’s Toyshop – a British weapon R&D organisations of WWII – into the custody of various Serco (formerly RCA GB 1929) shareholders served by the London and New York City offices of N M Rothschild & Sons Ltd. and Con Air SWAT teams allegedly hired through the DOJ Asset Forfeiture Fund.
AD believes that the late chemical-warfare expert Victor Rothschild’s associates at N M Rothschild – investment banker for Serco, Queen Elizabeth II and U.S. President Donald Trump – and Serco shareholders including the British government tasked Nicholas and Rupert Soames, two of Winston Churchill’s grandsons, and Kristine “Con Air” Marcy, Field McConnell’s sister, with testing Darren Rubin’s Biological active bullets, systems, and methods US9200877B1 as witness-cleansing bullets at death-pool raves staged at a BC pig farm between 1983 and 2002.
AD believes that Rothschild set up a death pool with Jerome H. Lemelson’s Prisoner tracking and warning system and corresponding methods US6054928A where Con Air SWAT teams allegedly used Sea On Line’s Anti-Collision Warning System for Marine Vehicle and Anti-Collision Analysis Method US7679530B2 and EXACTEARTH Ltd’s System and method for decoding automatic identification system signals US7876865B2 to collide the carrier ACX Crystal with the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and kill seven of the Fitzgerald‘s crew about 92 miles southwest of Tokyo, Japan on 17 June 2017.
AD believes that Rothschild set up a death pool where Con Air SWAT teams allegedly hacked the US Secretary of Navy’s System and method for automatic ship steering US5523951A to collide the Alnic MC with USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) and kill ten of the McCain’s crew off the Singapore coast on 21 August 2017.
AD believes that the Lloyd’s Cape Race signal station operators in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who would later help set up Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and RCA GB 1929 (subsequently Serco after an IPO structured by N M Rothschild), left the Titanic on course to hit an iceberg in the early hours of 15 April 1912 by jamming an ice warning from the California with Guglielmo Marconi’s Apparatus For Wireless Telegraphy 1901-06-11 US676332A which patent has allegedly been fraudulently re-assigned by Serco operators of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to BAE Systems Electronics Ltd.
AD believes that Serco, then RCA GB 1929, provided the Imperial Japanese Navy with RCA’s Resonant cavity magnetron US2348986A Priority 1940-10-24 and devices for Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) and precision navigation in the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941.
AD believes that Con Air SWAT teams fitted Boeing planes with Boeing’s Intervention flight management system US4811230A which allegedly allowed Buck Revell, Senior Executive Service (SES-6) and FBI Director deputy in charge of Criminal Investigative, Counter-Terrorism and Counter-Intelligence activities, to pull his son and daughter-in-law off the tarmac just before Pan Am Flight 103 took off from London’s Heathrow airport at 18:25 hours on 21 December 1988 and trigger a ‘Unabomb’ through the Dean Cross patented Radio beacon for a body count of 243 passengers + 16 crew + 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland just after 19:02:50.
AD believes that Serco used Howard Lutnick’s Real-time interactive wagering on event outcomes CA 2460367 A to establish Starnet Communications in Vancouver in 1996 as a junket operator where Buck Revell could supply elite hotels with images of pig-farm child pornography and S&M oath rituals and take death-pool bets on body counts and timing of false flag events.
AD believes that Serco agents hired Buck Revell to work with the UK’s National Crime Squad (NCS) to set up ‘Fakebook’ patsy and/or pedophile witnesses to death pool betting who can be blackmailed with the US Air Force’s Autonomous face recognition machine US5012522A and manipulated with QinetiQ North America Inc’s Social Engineering Protection Appliance US9123027B2 to filter physical truth (actus reus) from crime scene investigations into death-pool events such as the humiliating attacks on the USS Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain.
Abel Danger will help leaders of injured communities to develop crowd-funded film productions and law suits so that while claims for damages for wrongful deaths appear in the online courts of public opinion, scripts for physical acts causing deaths (actus reus) associated with the negligent, reckless, wilful, fraudulent or concealed use of patented devices and spoliation of evidence, can be published on the AD website without attempting to prove mental intent to murder (mens rea).
With this the 271st Kelly public briefing, we believe we can help the Trump Administration to strip Serco, Con Air and the Senior Executive Service out of any contracts with the United States, especially the allegedly fraudulent contracts with the U.S. patent office and the visa and ammunition centers and help you complete the job which you started as Secretary of Homeland Security to defend America against further humiliations and enemies both domestic and foreign!
11/1 USS FITZGERALD *CLEARLY* ATTACKED… NAVAL PREVARICATION ~*AGAIN*~
Con Air, Trailer
Media Coverage of Starnet Raid – August 20, 1999
Trump saw on 9/11/2001: bombs were used in WTC
SERCO GROUP PLC: List of Subsidiaries AND Shareholders! [Note representatives of Serco‘s private-equity groups, Serco‘s investment banker N M Rothschild (Wilbur Ross?) and Serco shareholders, including the British and Saudi Arabian governments, AXA (Co-developer of and with a presumed virtual office in the Trump Tower), Allianz, 10 Global Custodians with $100 trillion under management and the TIAA pension fund met in a junket (wagering) room on the 47th Floor of North Tower (WTC1) on 9/11!]
P O Box 39
Plum City WI 54761″
“Digital Fires Instructor Serco – [Marine Corps Base!] Camp Pendleton, CA Uses information derived from all military disciplines (e.g., aviation, ground combat, command and control, combat service support, intelligence, and opposing forces) to determine changes in enemy capabilities, vulnerabilities, and probable courses of action.”
“Serco Processes 2 Millionth Patent Application for U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
March 19, 2013 RESTON, VIRGINIA – March 18, 2013 – Serco Inc., a leading provider of professional, technology, and management services to the federal government, announced today that their Pre-Grant Publication (PGPubs) Classification Services team recently processed their 2 millionth patent application for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). Each application was also processed within the contractually required 28-day window.”
“Serco Marine Services is a Private Finance Initiative contract, with Serco Group, to deliver auxiliary services to Her Majesty’s Naval Service (incl. Royal Navy, Royal Marines) and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
Marine Services primarily operates from the nation’s three main naval bases, HMNB Portsmouth, HMNB Devonport and HMNB Clyde, but also supports training and operations overseas, as well as at various British Overseas Territories.
Serco Denholm (a joint venture between Serco Group and Denholm Group) won the Marine Services contract, replacing the subsequently disbanded Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service. Denholm’s participation was bought out in late 2009 by its larger partner, Serco.
Serco Marine Services supports the Naval Service and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary in both port and deep water operations. In port and UK waters, Marine Services is primarily tasked with berthing and towage activities located at the three main naval bases; Devonport, Portsmouth and Clyde. Other tasks such as coastal logistics (including stores, liquids and munitions) and passenger ferrying is also readily undertaken. Out-of-port operations in UK waters include direct involvement in supporting diving and minelaying training exercises, as well as torpedo recovery.
Overseas, Serco Marine Services undertake similar activities in locations such as Gibraltar, the Falklands, and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus, which includes the maintenance of navigational marks (or buoys) and supporting military operations and training.”
“Sea On Line’s Anti-Collision Warning System for Marine Vehicle and Anti-Collision Analysis Method US7679530B2
An anti-collision warning system for marine vehicle includes, an optical sensor covering at least partially the horizon of the marine vehicle, image processing means for extracting in real time from each image position information of objects visible on the surface of the sea, and anti-collision analysis means, which periodically calculate the evolution of the position information of each visible object, and which assess a risk of the marine vehicle colliding with each visible object according to the evolution of the position information of the visible object.
Inventor Philippe WAQUET
Original Assignee Sea On Line
Priority date 2004-09-29
2010-03-16 US7679530B2 Grant”
“EXACTEARTH Ltd’s System and method for decoding automatic identification system signals US7876865B2 Abstract Various embodiments are described herein for a system and method of detecting Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals in space and decoding these signals. In one aspect, a system for performing this function is described which includes a receiver configured to receive the plurality of AIS signals and pre-process the plurality of AIS signals to produce digital input data, and a processing unit configured to process the digital input data to identify one or more candidate AIS message signals based on Doppler offsets associated with the digital input data, determine corresponding Doppler offset estimates and time estimates of the one or more candidate AIS message signals, decode the one or more candidate AIS message signals to obtain corresponding message segments and validate the decoded message segments for proper AIS formatting.
Inventor Robert Peach
Current Assignee EXACTEARTH Ltd
Original Assignee COM DEV International Ltd
Priority date 2007-06-08
2011-01-25 US7876865B2 Grant ………………
In general, the receiver 20 is configured to receive an AIS signal in the Radio Frequency (RF) range and convert it to a baseband digital signal (i.e. digital input data). This pre-processing and conversion performed by the receiver 20 may be achieved in numerous ways and incorporates standard operations in signal processing. For instance, according to the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 2, considering receiver channel 28, an AIS signal is first received by the receiver antenna 32 and processed by the RF front end 34. The RF front end 34 includes filtering and amplification components. The filtering components provide a first level of filtering to remove interfering signals, including intermodulation products caused by out of band carriers, as well as other noise. The filters that are used generally only have modest selectivity, but they preferably have very low loss since any loss at this stage comes directly off the overall system noise figure. At this stage, the filtering components can include a VHF filter, which can be an LC type filter, and the amplification components include a low noise amplifier following the first level of filtering to boost the signal to a reasonable level.
The output of the RF front end 34 is then processed by the filter stage 36 that provides another level of more selective filtering. The filter stage 36 includes a wide band channel filter with a passband for transmitting all three AIS channels (i.e. AIS1 at 161.975 MHz, AIS2 at 162.025 MHz, and USAIS at 157.375 MHz). Alternatively, two combined filters may be used, one filter for the AIS1 and AIS2 channel and one filter for the USAIS channel, which may eliminate some interference between the two channels (i.e. AIS1/AIS2 and USAIS). The filter stage 36 generally employs a surface acoustic wave filter that can provide the sharp filtering that is needed.”
“Internet of Ships” tells tale of USS Fitzgerald tragedy—or half of it
AIS broadcasts freighter’s course to world, triggering conspiracy theories.
SEAN GALLAGHER – 6/20/2017, 7:28 AM
On early Saturday morning off the coast of Japan, the Philippines-flagged cargo container carrierACX Crystal struck the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) on its starboard (right) side, crushing the part of the Fitzgerald’s superstructure where its commanding officer’s quarters were and rupturing the ship’s hull below the waterline. Seven sailors died in a flooding berthing compartment, and the captain (who was in his quarters) and two other crewmen were injured.
As the incident was unfolding, the world was given an almost immediate look at part of the story behind the collision thanks to data from the Automated Identification System (AIS) aboard the Crystal. AIS, a tracking system that has become the “Internet of Ships,” was intended to help prevent such collisions, but it has also become a tool for nearly anyone to identify and track ships traveling around the world through websites and mobile applications. And the half of the story that Crystal’s track told quickly raised questions about what exactly was going on with the freighter just before the collision—and whether the incident was something more than just a random accident.
AIS was developed in the late 1990s as a radio-based transponder system, initially intended to be used as part of a collision avoidance system for ships operating out of range of land-based shipping controllers. AIS has been extended further by the addition of satellite monitoring of AIS traffic and the integration of AIS data into navigational beacons and local vessel traffic services (VTS)—think air traffic control for ships. Mandated for all ships over 300 gross tons starting in 2002, nearly all commercial sea-going vessels are now required by one authority or another to be equipped with AIS for tasks such as fishing fleet monitoring, search and rescue, and maritime security. It also can be used for accident investigation along with the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) “black box” mandated by the UN’s International Maritime Organization. VDR is limited to 12 hours of data storage.
That data is also sent to the Internet through land-based sensors, and it is available through websites and mobile applications through companies such as ExactEarth, Vessel Finder, and Marine Traffic. And in the wake of the news of the collision on Saturday, posts from those sources rapidly fueled speculation about what caused the collision.
Much of the speculation early after the collision focused on the erratic course changes by the Crystal just before the reported time of the collision. And there is still some dispute about the timing.
The problem, however, is that the AIS data tells only half, or less, of the story. That’s because the Fitzgerald had its AIS system turned off, and it was not broadcasting its position and course. That means there’s no current public record of the Fitzgerald’s actions prior to the collision, and the crew of the Crystal would not have received a collision alarm from the system on their bridge.
Navy ships are equipped with AIS systems, as any vessel-tracking site will show. However, commanders of ships in the US Navy (and other navies) frequently turn off AIS to preserve mission security, as the Navy pointed out when Google warned the Navy of the security risks of AIS in 2012. And in many cases, that means that AIS is turned off whenever Navy ships are outside of the control area of local vessel traffic systems—whenever they’re in open ocean. And merchant ships have been recorded turning off AIS before entering sensitive areas to avoid giving off location data, either for safety or for nefarious purposes.
Part of the initial suspicion about the data was caused by the reported time of the accident: the collision was widely reported to have occurred at 2:30am local time. But the Japanese Coast Guard reported that the report came long after the actual collision; the Fitzgerald’s primary radio room was apparently taken out (though some communications were intact, and the ship was able to respond to communications later), and the Crystal did not report the collision to the Japanese Coast Guard until a full hour after the actual collision at 1:30am. In fact, after initially steering away from the collision, the Crystal did not turn around to render aid to the Fitzgerald for a full half hour, based on track data. (That’s not necessarily out of the norm for such a large ship, as it could take miles to slow and turn around.) The US Navy reported the incident as having happened at about 2:20, however.
The Jiji Press news agency reported that the captain of the Crystal said his ship was “sailing in the same direction as the US destroyer and then collided.” The collision occurred after the Crystal made an adjustment of course to port (left), steering toward the Fitzgerald’s track. Under normal conditions, the crew of the ship showing its starboard side in a meeting situation is supposed to give the right-of-way. The other ship is required by the international “rules of the road” for shipping to maintain a predictable speed and course.
The bridge watch on the Fitzgerald apparently missed the course change by the Crystal or misjudged the speed of the ship and thought that the destroyer would pass ahead of the freighter. That problem could have been avoided if the Fitzgerald’s AIS was turned on.
It’s important to understand that the area in which the collision took place—off the coast of Japan, south of Yokosuka Naval Base and Sagami Bay, a gateway to maritime traffic headed for Tokyo—is immensely busy with shipping traffic.
As someone who has been on a bridge watch under those conditions prior to AIS, I can say that it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed with tracking all of the boats around you, even with the assistance of radar. And even in open ocean without heavy traffic, things can go wrong quickly. Bridge watches have been described as “hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror.” In 1987, I was Combat Information Center watch officer aboard the USS Iowa (BB-61) when another ship steered toward us during an exercise and came dangerously close to a collision despite repeated warnings on ship-to-ship radio. (The captain and bridge watch officers on the other ship were fired the next morning by their squadron commander, who took over command temporarily.)”
“US Secretary of Navy’s System and method for automatic ship steering US5523951A Abstract A real-time ship steering system provides steering of a survey ship along a prescribed thumb line track in accordance with a received point location on the thumb line and a received heading of the rhumb line. The system of the present invention requires an integrated navigation system, a track-keeping interface, and a ship autopilot to steer a ship. The computer of the navigation system integrates position data from continuous fixed radio and satellite positioning systems, inertial navigation systems, and dead reckon aids to develop the best present position. At prescribed equally spaced times, the best present position is used to compute the off-track distance of the ship. The off-track distance is used to develop proportional and integral heading corrections, which are applied to the autopilot by way of the track-keeping interface. The autopilot accepts the correction signal as a bias to the desired ground track heading, causing the ship to be steered toward the desired track. Heading corrections are apportioned over a number of increments between computations in order to gradually lock the ship onto the track. Priority date 1991-09-06 1996-06-04 US5523951A Grant”
“Navy crews at fault in fatal collisions, investigations find
By: David B. Larter November 1, 2017 …………………….
The complete breakdown in Navy norms on Fitzgerald stands in sharp relief to the accident on McCain, where the commanding officer presided over the whole incident.
It was just before dawn when the McCain headed into the Strait of Malacca, one of the busiest waterways in the world. The ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Alfredo Sanchez, had been on the bridge overseeing navigation in the heavily trafficked area near Singapore for more than four hours when the accident occurred at 5:23 a.m.
The failures on McCain began hours before accident.
Sanchez had decided to give his crew some extra rest and delayed orders putting his crew on what is known as sea and anchor detail, which requires more sailors and puts the ship at a higher state of readiness. That includes a bulked up navigation team, a full suite of lookouts and a master ship driver on the bridge.
Sanchez ordered the crew to set sea and anchor detail at 6 a.m. instead of an hour prior, when the ship entered the shipping lane heading into the Strait of Malacca. The ship’s operations officer, executive office and navigator had all recommended the ship set sea and anchor at 5 a.m. for safety reasons.
The critical failure came when the current was pushing the ship left and Sanchez noticed the helmsman — usually a junior sailor charged controlling the ship’s steering and speed when ordered by the officer of the deck or conning officer — was having trouble keeping the ship on course.
The master helmsman who would perform these tasks during a sea and anchor detail was still in the chow line at the time.
At 5:20 a.m., Sanchez ordered a second watch-stander to help run the controls to steer the ship, letting the helmsman keep control of the rudder while giving the second watch-stander control of the speed and position of the ship’s two propellers — a position known as the lee helm.
Putting two sailors at the separate positions required changing the ship’s steering configuration and shifting control of engine propeller speed to another part of control console.
But changing the control mechanisms immediately led to confusion because they mistakenly shifted all of the controls — both rudder and engine speed — to the second console.
As a result, the helmsman could no longer control the steering. He initially believed he had lost steering due to a mechanical failure, when in fact, he was just confused about the configuration of the equipment.
Four minutes before the collision, confusion began to run wild on the bridge while watch-standers attempted to fix a nonexistent loss of steering.
Complicating the situation further, changing in steering configurations forced the rudder to revert to a center line position, releasing the previous position that was set to the right between one and four degrees to fight the current that was pushing the ship left.
With the rudder unintentionally set to center line, the current continued to push the ship left of track.
During the confusion, when the bridge thought they had lost control of steering, the commanding officer ordered the engine to slow the ship’s speed from 20 knots to five. But the sailor at the console controlling the speed of the two propellers only slowed the port shaft to five knots, while the starboard shaft was still turning at 20 knots, abruptly pushing the ship sharply to the left and into the track of the Alnic MC for more than a minute.
An officer on the bridge ordered the steering controls to be shifted to a space near the rear of the ship that can also control steering, known as aft steering. But that was not yet manned due to Sanchez’s decision to man sea and anchor at 6 instead of 5 a.m.
The McCain’s steering configuration was changed five times in the roughly three minutes before the collision, according to the Navy report.
By the time the aft steering was manned and the sailor on the bridge fixed the speed issue that was forcing McCain left of track, it was too late.”
“The Honorable Dennis Kloske, Director [ExactEarth] The Honorable Mr. Kloske has over 30 years of experience in the areas of technology development, national security and military strategy, having served as a political appointee under three different U.S. administrations. His U.S. Government experience includes appointments as chief of staff and defense cooperation advisor to the U.S. NATO ambassador, armaments advisor to the U.S. deputy secretary of defense, and executive director of the defense cooperation council of the U.S. Department of Defense, among others. In 2009, The Honorable Mr. Kloske established Coldstream Resources Ltd. which focuses on the development of satellites, satellite communication technologies, communications infrastructure and electronic warfare technologies. The Honorable Mr. Kloske is a graduate of Harvard College with an honours degree in International Relations, and studied military history and strategy at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.”
“U.S. Decides It Won’t Prosecute Case of Altered Iraq Export Papers
By NEIL A. LEWIS
After a nearly two-year investigation, the Justice Department has decided not to prosecute anyone in connection with a Bush Administration document that was doctored to conceal the military uses of some exports to Iraq, a Congressman whose committee received the falsified list said today.
Representative John M. Spratt Jr., Democrat of South Carolina, whose Government Operations subcommittee asked the Justice Department to investigate the matter in 1991, said he wanted Attorney General Janet Reno to reopen the case. Mr. Spratt said that he believed the decision not to bring criminal charges was made by officials held over from the Bush Administration and that Ms. Reno might not have been fully aware of its implications.
“I doubt that Janet Reno has even seen the file on this case,” Mr. Spratt said through a spokesman. “This decision appears to have been made low-level Department employees who worked in the Bush Administration.”
The investigation into the altered Commerce Department list has seemed to many members of Congress to be the most fertile line of inquiry into the bundle of charges and questions on whether the Bush Administration worked before the gulf war to arm Iraq in a misguided effort to win Saddam Hussein’s support, then tried to cover up that effort after the war. No Independent Prosecutor
Democrats in Congress had tried and failed to have the Justice Department under President Bush name an independent prosecutor to look into the accusations.
The Commerce Department’s Inspector General concluded that a list of high-technology exports to Iraq had been tampered with to conceal the fact that much of the equipment had a military use.
The Justice Department’s decision not to bring any charges was disclosed in a letter written last week to Mr. Spratt. The letter, written by M. Faith Burton, an acting Assistant Attorney General, informed Mr. Spratt that the Department’s criminal division decided not to charge anyone following, “a complete investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
Mr. Spratt commented, “I think we deserve more than one sentence telling us why they think there is no case.”
Dean St. Dennis, a Justice Department spokesman, said he could not discuss the reasons the Department had decided not to prosecute anyone. He said the decision had been made by John Keeney, a longtime career prosecutor who is currently the acting head of the criminal division.
Mr. St. Dennis also said that Ms. Reno had not reviewed the case but that she had simply been informed by Mr. Keeney of his decision.
President Clinton has said he will sign the legislation authorizing the renewal of the independent counsel law. If the law is enacted, he has said he will ask Ms. Reno to decide whether to appoint an independent prosecutor to look into the charges about aid to Iraq.
The doctored list consisted of the Commerce Department’s computer printouts of the licenses granted between 1985 and 1990 for the export of $1.5 billion worth of high-technology equipment to Iraq. The list was sent to Representative Doug Barnard, a Georgia Democrat who was at that time chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer and Monetary Affairs, which was looking into whether loose export controls allowed Saddam Hussein to build up his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons arsenals.
After Mr. Barnard received an anonymous tip that the Commerce Department had tampered with the list, he requested the inquiry by the Department’s Inspector General. Mr. Barnard retired from Congress and Mr. Spratt became the subcommittee’s chairman this year. List Changed in 68 Places
The Inspector General concluded that the list sent to Congress and the permanent record had been altered in 68 instances. It can be illegal to willfully falsify information given to Congress.
Senior Department officials testified that Dennis E. Kloske, who was then Under Secretary of Commerce, was solely responsible for the alterations. But Mr. Kloske, who resigned in April, 1991, later told Congressional investigators that White House officials and Robert A. Mossbacher, the Secretary of Commerce and a close political adviser to President Bush, had supervised the alterations.
Paul Friedman, a lawyer for Mr. Kloske, said in an interview today that his client was traveling in Europe and unavailable for comment. Mr. Friedman said Mr. Kloske, who testified before a grand jury, received a letter last week from the Justice Department informing him that he would not be prosecuted.
“He has cooperated fully with this investigation, sat for interviews with the proecutors and did not seek nor get immunity,” Mr. Friedman said. “As far as he’s concerned, this is the end of it.” Tracing Responsibility
Mr. Friedman declined to discuss whether Mr. Kloske had taken full responsibility for the alterations or had said they had been done at the behest of senior Bush Administration officials.
Although the Inspector General said Mr. Kloske had made the changes, another Commerce Department report quoted officials as saying that they had interviewed Mr. Kloske and “asked him if there are standing orders from the Office of Secretary including the General Counsel’s office to silently take the heat for export license controversies. He would only answer, Orders are orders.”
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A version of this article appears in print on April 16, 1993, on Page A00020 of the National edition with the headline: U.S. Decides It Won’t Prosecute Case of Altered Iraq Export Papers. Order Reprints| Today’s Paper|Subscribe”
“The Patent King He has a staggering 558 patents, costing companies around the world some $1.5 billion in licensing fees. But what did Jerome Lemelson actually invent?
By Nicholas Varchaver
May 14, 2001
(FORTUNE Magazine) – This past February, Jerome Lemelson passed an impressive milestone: The number of companies paying for licenses on his patents reached 750.
The list includes an amazing array of corporations: old-economy stalwarts like Alcoa, Boeing, Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly, and GE; manufacturing behemoths like Ford, GM, and U.S. Steel; technology titans like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Cisco. The portfolio of products covered over the years by Lemelson’s patents is equally staggering: They include components in such everyday consumer products as the Walkman, the VCR, the fax machine, and the camcorder. At one time or another his patents have covered Velcro darts and industrial robots, crying dolls and semiconductors. He even holds patents–perhaps his most important ones, as we’ll see–on the ubiquitous bar-code scanner.
So far, these licenses have reaped nearly $1.5 billion. This is almost surely more than any individual patent holder has ever earned from licensing patents, and it hasn’t come about by accident. Lemelson spent his life thinking up patents–and then filing lawsuits to enforce them. So rich is his patent portfolio that even now he remains in litigation with some 400 companies (including AOL Time Warner, the parent of FORTUNE’s publisher). Well, not Lemelson, exactly–but rather a for-profit foundation that holds the rights to his patents. Lemelson, you see, has been dead for three years. When he passed away in October 1997, at the age of 74, he had just won his greatest patent victory, crushing Ford Motor Co.
It would be appealing to view Lemelson as part of the great American tradition of the small inventor battling the rapacious corporation. Certainly there have been plenty of people who have seen him in this light. The distinguished writer Tom Wolfe once hailed him as a “genius” in a laudatory article. Two of the most prestigious institutions in the country, MIT and the Smithsonian, have allied themselves with his name. To many small inventors, Lemelson is a figure of heroic proportions.
Lemelson may well have been a genius: He earned 558 patents (some came after his death), which leaves him four places behind the inventore-di-tutti-inventori, Thomas Edison. But his was a different kind of brilliance altogether. In truth, his most lucrative patents were the product of a masterful exploitation of the patent system, and they created a huge legal web that to this day ensnares corporations. Critics–especially the many businesses he has sued–portray Lemelson as the anti-Edison. They contend that he never invented the key technologies for which he had the patents. Even one of Lemelson’s former attorneys, Arthur Lieberman, questions whether Lemelson was an inventor in the layman’s sense of the word. Rather, he says, Lemelson would figure out where an industry was headed–and then place a patent claim directly in its path. “In many cases, Lemelson didn’t patent inventions,” says Lieberman. “He invented patents.”
The Lemelson litigation and licensing program–which has been masterminded over the past dozen years by a wily lawyer named Gerald Hosier–is unprecedented in its size and scope, and has become the leading edge in a wave of patent litigation. Even as personal-injury and product-liability suits–the bane of most large corporations–have been declining, federal patent lawsuit filings have increased 60% since 1993.
Now, though, the Lemelson litigation machine faces a serious threat, in the form of a suit brought by a group of bar-code-equipment manufacturers. If they win key rulings in the next year, the Lemelson operation will, in all likelihood, finally wind down. But if they don’t, the $1.5 billion collected so far by Lemelson will be just a down payment on a much larger tab–payment not for the creation of new ideas but for what can only be called an intellectual land grab.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more appealing representative for Lemelson’s legacy than his widow, Dorothy. Petite, charming, and ebullient at age 75, Dorothy was married to Lemelson for 43 years. For many of those years they lived in Metuchen, N.J.–next door to Menlo Park, the site of Edison’s famous laboratory–where Dorothy worked as an interior designer while her husband waged his lonely battles with corporations. These days she has homes in Portland, Ore., and Incline Village, Nev., and heads the Lemelson family’s charitable foundation (a separate entity from the for-profit foundation that controls his patents). Since the mid-’90s it has doled out millions for programs that foster innovation. Perhaps not surprisingly, MIT and the Smithsonian have been big recipients of the foundation’s largesse.
She is also, these days, the chief burnisher of her late husband’s image. She recalls him as a self-effacing man, a gentle soul. Most of all, though, she wants him to be accepted as a Great Man, something he longed for during his lifetime. “He wanted people to know what he had accomplished,” she says a little wistfully. “He actually saw very early on a new world. All the things that he was working on were the things that created the world that you guys are living in now.” His ability to foresee technological innovations, decades before others, was, in her view, the true basis of his eventual success. His patent battles? He simply wanted recompense for the ideas that corporations routinely stole from him.
Her reminiscences tend to revolve around his obsession with his work. She recalls Lemelson dragging her to the Patent Office in Washington, D.C., on the way back from their honeymoon in 1954. (“It was so hot there,” she says. “It was horrible.”) Her husband would keep notebooks by his side when he slept–in case he woke up with a brainstorm. He would mutter ideas into a Dictaphone as he drove his family to the beach, and then sit under an umbrella (to avoid skin cancer), writing in a notebook while his sons frolicked in the water. When he bought toys for his boys, he would often disassemble them to see how they worked.
For Lemelson, being an inventor did not mean waiting for a “eureka moment.” The process entailed a great deal of study and hard work–though not necessarily the kind you would assume. Lemelson, for example, didn’t build models to test his technological inventions. Inventing for him was a purely theoretical exercise. An engineer by training–he had three engineering degrees from NYU–he would spend his days poring through the 40-odd technical journals he subscribed to, publications with names such as Automation and Modern Materials Handling. And it was his immersion in this wide range of technical information that spawned Lemelson’s patents, as he drew connections and synthesized new ideas.
One of the many paradoxes of Lemelson is that the process of creation his wife describes so lovingly isn’t markedly different from the process described by his critics. “He would look at the magazines and determine the direction of industry,” shrugs ex-Lemelson attorney Lieberman. In this view, Lemelson wasn’t attempting to create real products. He was just using his knowledge to get the first chit in at the Patent Office and lay the groundwork for a future claim.
Lemelson’s first patent, issued in 1953, was for a beanie with a propeller on top. Lemelson made no claim to have invented anything so wonderful as the propeller-beanie; his patent was for an incremental improvement–a tube through which the wearer could blow and whirl the propeller.
Many of the early Lemelson patents were for simple toys, for a reason that is well known to starving young inventors: Toys offer a better chance of generating quick revenue than complex inventions that can require decades to get developed. Making tiny improvements on existing things is also a common practice among inventors.
Unfortunately for Lemelson, toy companies were not particularly inclined to license his patents–especially when they already had something similar on the market. Unfortunately for the toy companies, Lemelson was not the sort to simply walk away. He soon became convinced that his ideas were being stolen, and he was determined to do something about it. His response–common enough in this litigious age but highly unusual in the 1950s–was to sue. These early suits both reflected and shaped Lemelson’s world view, and became key pillars of the Lemelson legend among those who view him as a hero.
Take, for instance, Lemelson v. Kellogg–an early Lemelson suit that was captured by Tom Wolfe in a stylish 1986 article, “Land of Wizards.” Wolfe’s account presented the archetypal example of the honest inventor wronged by a big corporation: Inventor has idea for a children’s mask that can be cut out of the back of a cereal box. Inventor sends idea to big corporation. Big corporation summarily rejects it. Inventor sees years later that big corporation has used his idea. Inventor sues big corporation, but nasty judge, in thrall to big corporation, dismisses the case.
Here’s what really happened: Lemelson did in fact suggest a children’s mask, and Kellogg did in fact reject the idea. But the company explained why in a letter dated Nov. 9, 1954: “We have used masks and mask cutouts in many forms…therefore, we do not wish to consider these.” Lemelson went ahead and obtained a patent for a particular type of cutout mask–and then, five years later, sued Kellogg when he saw a printed mask on a box of corn flakes. In its response, Kellogg cited seven instances in which it had inscribed masks on cereal boxes, dating back as early as 1947–and a dozen prior patents on similar masks. At trial, Lemelson’s own expert witness conceded that none of the elements in his patent were new. Given this set of facts, the surprise isn’t that Lemelson lost the case, which he did, resoundingly. It’s that he kept fighting the case until his final appeal was denied–in 1972.
There are few departments of the government that are as old as the country itself, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is one of them. Viewed by the founders as a fundamental principle, patent protection was explicitly provided for in the Constitution; in fact, the nation’s first patent examiner was Thomas Jefferson. Today the Patent Office has decamped to Jefferson’s side of the Potomac, where it occupies a drab modern building in Virginia. Parts of it, though, conjure another century.
Since at least the 1870s, patents have been stored by subject matter in snug compartments called shoes (so named because the original containers were shoeboxes). Today they fill endless, cramped rows of shelving in a series of spaces collectively called the “search room.” Until the Patent Office began offering electronic searching in the early ’90s, researching patents was a Dickensian experience: Pallid clerks known as patent searchers spent entire careers pulling down desiccated, yellowed documents, leafing through thick, dusty files, and reading page after dense page. And there was no guarantee that the patent they were searching for would be where it was supposed to be.
Until 1995, when a new law changed a number of patent practices, the most profound change to have taken place at the Patent Office occurred in the late 19th century. That’s when the Office stopped requiring inventors to submit working models of their inventions. From then on, words and drawings alone would suffice.
Divorced from tangible objects, the patent application process became a kind of black art. Today a serious patent practitioner will craft an application in such a way that it not only describes a particular invention but also potentially covers other inventions. To use a common example, if one had invented the stool, it wouldn’t be good patent strategy to submit an application that defines the stool as “a wooden base with three legs appended.” It would be much smarter to say “a base with at least three legs appended.” The latter would allow the patent to cover a stool constructed out of wood, metal, or plastic–or, conceivably, a four-legged chair.
Lemelson, who drafted his own patent applications through most of his career, was a master of the art. “You have to stake the four corners of your invention broadly enough so that they give you maximum protection,” he explained to The New Yorker in 1993. “You tend to avoid adjectives. You don’t say ‘transistor’ when you can use ‘controllable electronic valve’–that sort of thing. Of course, if you write too broadly you may invalidate your claim… But if you write too narrowly you may miss the thing about the technology that turns out to be truly valuable.” Lieberman puts it more pungently: “You put enough shit into it to allow your claims to wander in all kinds of directions.”
As a patent applicant, Lemelson had other qualities that served him well. He was relentless. To him, a rejection wasn’t the end of something but merely the beginning. He would lobby, cajole, appeal, reapply–whatever it took. (Lemelson would later testify that he was always turned down on his first attempt at a patent: “It happens in every case that I file…And you fight with them and overcome them.”) “He’d whine a lot,” recalls Stanley Miller, who dealt with Lemelson during his years as a patent examiner and supervisor from 1956 to 1998. “He tried to get your sympathy.” Adds Miller: “He took advantage of whatever loophole there was.”
Lemelson would grind down the examiners by submitting “jumbo” applications that stretched to more than 100 pages. “There’s no way that you could read an entire application in the case of the jumbo applications,” says Miller. Not only were they huge, they could be incredibly vague; some patent examiners began referring to Lemelson as “Black Box Jerry” because of his tendency to offer sweeping notions with very little technical detail.
And then there were the delays. Until that 1995 law changed the rules, a newly issued patent had a 17-year life span–during which time nobody was supposed to be able to use the idea without paying for it. But a patent application could be delayed through something called a “continuation.” During that process, applicants were permitted to amend, modify, or add claims to their inventions. As long as the inventor could persuade an examiner that the new claims were consistent with the original specifications, he could even go so far as to incorporate somebody else’s technology into his own patent application.
Nobody ever sought continuations the way Lemelson did. Some of his applications had a half-dozen continuations, each of which could add years to the process. Sometimes Lemelson would be informed that one of his patents was about to be issued–and respond by filing a continuation, inexplicably creating another delay.
But as any savvy patent practitioner knows, his action wasn’t inexplicable at all. Consider: Lemelson first submitted some of his key technological patent applications in the mid-1950s. But thanks to all the delays–delays often triggered by Lemelson’s continuations–many of them weren’t issued until the ’80s and ’90s. By then, though, Lemelson had amended them to include real products that had come on the market–which he could claim to have invented because he had applied for the patent back in the ’50s! And because the patent only took effect when it was issued, that meant that every manufacturer of the product needed to license it from the “inventor.”
Take, for instance, a 1954 Lemelson patent application describing a video camera positioned to view a production line. According to the 150-page patent application, Lemelson’s idea would be used to “provide means whereby a video picture signal may be used to effect automatic quality control.” But Lemelson never built such a machine, and critics say it wouldn’t work if built. (That view is disputed by John Grindon, an expert witness for the Lemelson team.) Years later, though, the underlying concept found its way into common industrial use as a technology called “machine vision”–in which a camera inspects items on an assembly line, compares them with a digital image stored in its memory, and determines whether they’re defective.
You could credit Lemelson as a visionary for having the germ of this idea. But, to use the analogies often employed by his critics, it’s the kind of vision that Jules Verne or Leonardo da Vinci had. Both the French novelist and the Renaissance genius had abstract, unworkable ideas for technologies that, in some cases, were ultimately created centuries later. Should Boeing have to pay da Vinci’s estate because he envisioned a flying machine in the 15th century?
“Lemelson’s original patents are quite different from how machine vision is practiced or ever was practiced,” says Steve Dickerson, a professor emeritus at the Georgia Institute of Technology and holder of a patent on machine vision. “What he invented and what people did are absolutely different.” But that didn’t prevent Lemelson from suing decades later, once the systems had come into use. By then, of course, Lemelson’s patent applications had been amended to encompass real machine-vision technology rather than his merely theoretical notion.
Was Lemelson’s approach–stalling to keep patent applications alive and amending them to get out in front of emerging technology–a conscious strategy from the start? It’s impossible to know. Lemelson’s current lawyer, Gerald Hosier, vehemently denies it, blaming the delays on the Patent Office. He points out that it would make little sense for an impoverished inventor to map out a plan in 1954 that called for a 40-year wait to cash in. But even if that wasn’t Lemelson’s original idea, he clearly came to realize the benefits of delay. Says Lieberman: “It’s too simple to be refuted.”
Even if they called him Black Box Jerry at the Patent Office, Lemelson never saw himself in those terms. On the contrary, he aspired to be nothing less than a modern-day Edison. Which is why, when companies began bringing products to life in the 1960s and 1970s that Lemelson felt were covered in one of his ’50s-era patents–and when those companies then declined to license his patents, as they invariably did–he reacted exactly as he had when the toy companies spurned him. First he seethed. And then he sued.
Lemelson pursued litigation the same way he pursued patent applications–relentlessly, obsessively, even maniacally. Almost always, in those years, he either lost the case outright or settled for a tiny sum. It didn’t matter: He just wouldn’t stop. In one instance he litigated at least ten cases for a total of 19 years over something called a “bellows noisemaker,” a 75 cent item that squeaks or squeals when pressed. (It’s usually put inside a toy.) Though Lemelson conceded that such noisemakers had existed for decades, he managed to secure a patent on the grounds that his version was made out of one piece of plastic rather than two. He even managed to prevail in one of the cases: a 1979 trial against a two-person company that had sold $8,225 of the items. According to a lawyer familiar with the case, Lemelson wound up winning some $300 in damages–and didn’t bother to collect.
An even more powerful illustration of Lemelson’s motives and tactics comes from a series of letters he wrote in the 1960s and 1970s to Raymond Armington, the president of a Cleveland-based company called Triax. As it happens, Triax was Lemelson’s first real ally in corporate America. A builder of automated warehouses, Triax held a series of patents covering its various processes. Lemelson, needless to say, also had patents covering automatic warehousing. But when Lemelson accused Triax of infringing his patents, Triax responded not by fighting but by joining forces with him. The company believed that if their two patent portfolios were combined, they’d cover every conceivable permutation of automated warehouse. That meant that any company using such technology would have to pay up.
Though the plan did not meet with much success, it wasn’t for lack of trying. For example, here is Lemelson in 1967, intensely monitoring other people’s inventions–and then trying to capture them in his own pending patent applications. “I am enclosing a reprint of an article in the February 1967 issue of Control Engineering Magazine which briefly describes the Speed-Park Garage,” Lemelson writes, referring to an automated car-parking garage that Ford had just opened. He then suggests modifying one of his pending patent applications so that it would cover a key element of the technology: “It may be quite profitable to us in the future to attempt to get claims on the fork-reject switch…” Another letter describes how a competitor has redesigned a part so that it wouldn’t infringe on Lemelson’s patent. “Couldn’t we file a reissue application,” Lemelson asks, “to add a claim or two to cover this aspect?”
May 1969: Triax, complains Lemelson, isn’t suing enough companies: “Perhaps it may be wise to initiate one or more infringement actions in those cases which come close to the grey area…”
June 1971: Lemelson, frustrated that Triax isn’t acting aggressively enough, rails about “massive infringement” worth “millions of dollars.” “What in the world are we waiting for?” he demands. In another letter he continues in this vein: The defense of a patent infringement action can cost as much as $500,000, he says. “With this in mind, we should be able to get some of them to take a license at this time even if it means bringing an action. If we overwhelm them with our patents, they should comply and take a license.”
March 1972: Triax, increasingly uncomfortable with Lemelson’s demands, demurs: “We cannot ethically file an infringement action against a defendant unless we have a pretty good idea as to which claims of which patents are infringed,” writes Armington. This answer infuriates Lemelson. “Apparently you and your attorneys have failed to realize…that the only language most of our great leaders [of] industry recognize…is that resulting from a legal action,” he counters.
August 1973: “The INDUSTRY MUST RESPECT OUR PATENTS AND THE ONLY WAY WE WILL GET THAT RESPECT IS TO SHOW THEM WE MEAN BUSINESS,” Lemelson writes–and then adds parenthetically, “I didn’t intentionally capitalize the above, the typewriter stuct [sic] at the right moment.”
Finally, after decades of frustration, Lemelson began to hit pay dirt in the early 1970s. First came Sony, which agreed to license an audiocassette mechanism that became a standard part of cassette players–a deal that earned Lemelson some $2 million over a 14-year span. For Sony this was petty cash, but for Lemelson, it represented a first: steady income that derived from one his patents. Why did Sony agree to this deal? The company didn’t actually rely on his invention, says Lewis Eslinger, an attorney who represented Sony. “Very clearly,” he says, “they paid him because he had an issued patent.”
Then, in 1981, came a much bigger payday: IBM agreed to pay Lemelson $5 million for a group of his patents, including at least one relating to the basic concept of the personal computer. Lemelson celebrated his windfall by earmarking every penny for new lawyers and legal action. “He upped the ante,” recalls Lieberman, who signed on as Lemelson’s primary counsel soon after the IBM deal. “He became more aggressive. He became more convinced he was right.”
This new IBM-financed round of litigation reaped, by Lieberman’s estimate, more than $10 million in license fees, mostly from Asian computer and electronics companies. It also reaped a flurry of new suits. But Lieberman eventually became disenchanted with his client. “I couldn’t believe how far he’d go,” the lawyer says now, “how aggressive he could be.” For instance, after those Asian companies agreed to pay for Lemelson’s computer patents, he wanted Lieberman to go back to them and extract new payments on the grounds that those same patents covered fax machines too.
“I said, ‘It’s unethical,'” Lieberman recalls. “And he said, ‘It’s not illegal.'” Lieberman continues: “I just was no longer comfortable representing him. I was tired of being called a lawyer for a parasite.” (In a 1993 American Lawyer article, Lemelson blamed the rift on a fee dispute.) No matter. By then Lemelson had finally found a lawyer whose approach to litigation mirrored his own.
When Gerald Hosier first began doing work for Jerry Lemelson, he was already a successful patent attorney running a small firm in Chicago. A little more than a decade later, Hosier, 60, lives on a mountain overlooking Aspen, Colo., in a 15,000-square-foot home that includes a giant exercise room, a sauna, a wine cellar, and a lavish underground screening room with a built-in flight simulator. He’s got five planes, including a Cold War-era Czechoslovakian fighter plane that he snapped up in a fire sale.
If Hosier made Lemelson tremendously wealthy–and he did–the reverse is also true. When he first took on Lemelson as a client in the late 1980s, Hosier was one of the few patent lawyers willing to work on contingency. Since then he has generated $1.5 billion in licensing fees–and has reportedly taken a third for himself. (Hosier declines to comment on his fee.)
Not that he wants you to focus on the money. “When I first met Jerry Lemelson,” recalls Hosier, sitting in an office that offers sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains, “I had some concerns because I’d heard he was a gadfly suing people…So I took the time to learn about the man. And, frankly, someday I think he will go down as one of the great geniuses of our time. If he’d had the resources, he would have had 1,500 patents. He would have surpassed Thomas Edison easily. He was the lone ranger. He had no legal team. He had no company. He had no resources other than [his patents]. He was the classic inventor.”
Indeed, one thing Hosier always understood was that Lemelson was in it for more than the money. Hosier gave Lemelson the respect he craved. As a result, perhaps, Hosier was able to inspire trust from the wary Lemelson, who had hired and fired dozens of lawyers over the years.
Hosier, for his part, was practical in a way that Lemelson never was. Lemelson, for instance, always wanted to extract the maximum amount from the licensing fees; Hosier persuaded him to accept less money per license and make it up in volume. Unlike Lemelson, Hosier had no interest in carrying on legal brawls just to make a point; he was interested in only those avenues that would lead to concrete results. Jerry Hosier wasn’t about to waste his time on any case that wasn’t going to generate cold, hard cash.
When Hosier started looking through Lemelson’s patents, he was struck by the tremendous amount of untapped potential. “I was stunned,” he says. “There was a surfeit of riches.” That was particularly true of Lemelson’s machine-vision patents, which were among Hosier’s first assignments. It dawned on Hosier that the concepts in the machine-vision applications cover another key modern technology–the bar-code process. “Bar code is machine vision,” he says today. So in September 1989, Hosier set about filing new bar-code claims to Lemelson’s pending patent applications.
Then came the legal strategy. Normally, a patent holder sues the manufacturer of the product that is allegedly infringing the patent. Hosier, however, realized that the manufacturers of machine-vision technology and bar-code equipment were comparatively small potatoes. The big score lay in getting licensing fees from the users of those products–which is to say, just about every company on the planet. And because Lemelson’s patents covered not only the products themselves but their method of use as well, Hosier was legally entitled to sue them. This was his masterstroke.
In November 1989, Hosier sent a letter to every company in the electronics, semiconductor, and auto industries worldwide, informing them that they were infringing on Lemelson’s patents. Not surprisingly, the companies disagreed with Hosier’s assessment. But Hosier persisted, focusing especially on the Japanese companies, knowing that they were skittish about confronting the U.S. legal system. His letters pointed out that Lemelson had, at that point, more than 150 patents, with another 50 applications still in the hopper. As he wrote, typically, to Sanyo in December 1991, “the claims of the pending applications are all being carefully drawn to cover practices in widespread commercial use.” In other words, there was no escape.
By the summer of 1992 the entire Japanese auto industry was poised to fall into line. When the companies wavered at the last second, Hosier filed suit. Without even bothering to respond, the companies capitulated, agreeing to collectively pay Lemelson $100 million. Within months, some 30 other European and Japanese companies, including Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, Saab, Volvo, NEC, Philips, and Samsung, all folded. They handed Lemelson and Hosier another $350 million.
With this war chest, Hosier turned his sights on a far tougher prey–the U.S. auto industry. After some brief maneuvering, the parties agreed that Lemelson would fight it out with Ford first, while GM and Chrysler waited on the sidelines. This was a true battle of the titans–Hosier, by now, had the means for a protracted campaign, but Ford was a hard-line patent litigant with decades of experience; its longtime patent firm, Fish & Neave, had once represented none other than Thomas Edison.
At moments the currents seemed to be moving against Lemelson. In June 1995, for instance, the U.S. patent laws changed in ways that would seem to put a crimp on Lemelson’s tried-and-true techniques. No longer would patents be valid for 17 years from the date of issue; now they would run 20 years from the date of first application. No longer could inventors profit by filing endless continuations. But though companies like Ford had lobbied for this change to prevent the emergence of another Lemelson, the rule was grandfathered in and thus had no effect on Lemelson himself.
That same month, though, Lemelson suffered a much more immediate blow. A magistrate, deputized by the trial judge to handle pretrial motions, granted summary judgment to Ford. The magistrate found that Lemelson’s patents couldn’t be enforced because of his unreasonable delays in the application process. “Lemelson’s use of continuation applications has been abusive,” the magistrate concluded.
The magistrate’s opinion was technically only a recommendation. Still, judges almost always endorse such findings. Sure enough, in April 1996, Judge Lloyd George adopted the magistrate’s report. George then took another 12 months before submitting his written opinion. When it was announced in April 1997, Ford was stunned. Judge George had reversed himself.
He did so, it appears, because in the interim another court had issued a contrary ruling in a similar case. That court concluded that as long as the law permitted delay, a patent-applicant can’t be punished for taking advantage of the rules. As Judge George wrote, “While Lemelson’s use of the continuation applications process may have exploited an open area of patent practice, the court should not intervene…to regulate what Congress has not.”
Jerry Lemelson, however, wouldn’t have long to revel in his triumph: He was dying of liver cancer. By late summer 1997 the disease had worsened, and Lemelson found himself in the cancer unit at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. He was in his bed when word came that an appeals court had declined to hear Ford’s appeal of Judge George’s ruling. Weakened by the disease, Lemelson managed a haggard smile and lifted his bony hand in a “V” for victory. A few weeks later, on Oct. 1, he passed away at age 74.
The great irony of the Lemelson story is that most of the money from his patents has been collected in the three years since he died. Or maybe that’s not so ironic: After all, Gerry Hosier is now fully in charge, without his bellicose client whispering in his ear. The Ford case turned out to be pivotal: After Ford settled on June 1, 1998–with GM and Chrysler caving on the same day–Hosier sent out letters to some 1,200 companies demanding licensing fees. Hundreds of them fell into line; Hosier was signing up licenses at a rate of one a day.
Why would companies settle if they didn’t believe–and most don’t–that Lemelson’s patents were valid? Beyond the obvious desire to avoid costly litigation, they found themselves trapped in the web of patent claims that Lemelson had woven during his life. Lemelson’s machine-vision claims, for example, number in the hundreds and are spread among 16 different patents. Knock out one claim, and dozens more would rise to take its place. And Hosier had proved over time that he knew how to play hardball. From 1998 to 2000, for instance, he filed seven massive suits against a total of 632 companies.
On the other hand, like a resourceful salesman, Hosier knew how to ease companies into a settlement they could feel good about. For starters, he offered what amounted to package deals–one license covering the entire Lemelson portfolio. And you couldn’t beat his prices. “I think Jerry is very masterful in coming to the right number, so people lose their incentive to litigate,” says Robert Krupka of Kirkland & Ellis, who has represented GM and two dozen other clients in Lemelson-related matters.
And yet for all the talk about the iron-clad nature of his patents–and the money they’ve generated–a crucial question has been obscured: Did Jerome Lemelson ever actually invent the products that generated such riches? When it comes to bar-code technology–just as with machine vision–the answer is clear (though, naturally, Lemelson’s expert disagrees). “His patents have nothing to do with bar codes as they are commonly used,” says George Laurer, the (unchallenged) inventor of the universal product code. “That is so far out in left field, it makes me sick.” Last year Laurer was asked to testify on behalf of Lemelson; he not only declined but also offered to testify free on behalf of any company sued by Lemelson.
Which is why it is all the more fitting that corporate America’s last stand against the Lemelson litigation machine is being waged by the very companies that he and Hosier never sued: the makers of bar-code equipment and machine-vision technology.
Their leader is a man named Robert Shillman, the co-founder of Cognex, a $250 million machine-vision manufacturer just outside of Boston. Shillman wrote his MIT doctoral thesis on optical character recognition–a technology employed in many machine-vision systems. His company has 105 patents on various machine-vision technologies and certainly doesn’t use Lemelson technology.
Shillman is a passionate man. Ask him about Lemelson, and he starts bouncing up and down in his chair, his white hair providing a vivid contrast to the florid red that soon flushes his face. “I take it personally,” Shillman says. “It’s a tax on every consumer in America…What was produced by this man that is worth a billion dollars?” Shillman was outraged that his customers were being asked to pay a license on a product that was developed completely independently of Lemelson’s ideas. It wasn’t just a theoretical issue either. Customers had begun to approach Cognex, asking to be reimbursed for the money they’d paid to Lemelson.
In the fall of 1998, Cognex sued the for-profit Lemelson foundation. To Hosier, this was a mystifying step–he couldn’t fathom why the company would insert itself into litigation that, in his view, did not concern them. But for Shillman, it has become a matter of principle. He’s not looking for money; he has a much grander dream. He wants Lemelson’s patents invalidated. As he sees it, he is carrying on this battle on behalf of his customers. Soon seven manufacturers of bar-code equipment reached a conclusion similar to Cognex’s: They were also going to stand up to the Lemelson foundation and sue on behalf of their customers. The two cases have been combined.
Like Ford before them, Cognex and the bar-code companies have accused Lemelson of excessive delay–and a judge has ruled against them. But this time the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is permitting an unusual mid-case appeal. The two sides have submitted briefs and a hearing is expected sometime later this year. Meanwhile, the rest of the Cognex case is moving forward simultaneously. Here, too, a crucial hearing is anticipated this year: The judge will rule on the scope of the Lemelson patents. The remaining Lemelson litigation has been stayed in anticipation of these decisions.
Despite all the litigation, no court has ever made a substantive ruling on the validity of Lemelson’s machine-vision and bar-code patents. It’s likely that the Lemelson machine-vision and bar-code patents will rise or fall based on what happens in the Cognex suit. If Cognex wins the mid-case appeal–or wins a favorable ruling on the scope of the patents–the Lemelson patent-licensing program will effectively be dead. If Lemelson prevails, however, his patents will have the imprimatur of a court, and the 400 companies still in litigation with him will have to contemplate settlement.
Hosier says he isn’t worried. Despite the $1.5 billion generated so far, he has no plans to wrap up the litigation. Besides, even if Cognex is able to deal a deathblow to the bar-code and machine-vision patents, it may not be enough to slay the hydra-headed monster. According to Hosier, there are still a few dozen patents that will be issuing in the next few years. He plans to enforce them.
“Radical Clique: From the Weather Underground to the White House
by Christopher Donovan
Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn
Race Course: Against White Supremacy
New York: Random House, 2009
Is a revolutionary’s work ever done? Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn can rest easy: theirs is.
The aspiring black politician they hosted at their Hyde Park home, Barack Obama, is now the president of the United States. The anti-white invective that animated their terrorist acts in the 1960s is now the stuff of staid school board pronouncements, ad campaigns of Fortune 500 companies, and the musings of a Republican candidate for president. Their locked-in-the-tissues conviction that the very existence of white people is the primary explanation for human suffering is widely accepted.
Today, the wily Ayers and his wife sit pretty atop American society: he, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago whose traveling lectures find him hailed in the press as an “anti-war activist” rather than a terrorist, and who enjoys the fawning attention of the New York Times Magazine’s Deborah Solomon; she, an adjunct professor at Northwestern, one of the most prestigious law schools in the nation, and a former employee of white-shoe law firm Sidley Austin — despite apparently having never been admitted to the bar. (A hiring partner was friends with Bill Ayers’ father, Thomas Ayers, once a CEO of Commonwealth Edison in Chicago. Sidley Austin also employed Michelle Obama as an associate and Barack Obama as a summer associate. …
In a famous letter to the New York Times, coincidentally run on September 11, 2001, Ayers wrote “I don’t regret setting bombs. . . . I feel we didn’t do enough. . .” What else did he hope to accomplish? FBI informant Larry Grathwohl described Ayers and Dohrn as the true decision-makers of the Weather Underground. In a 1982 documentary titled No Place to Hide, he described one conversation in which Ayers contemplated the killing of 25 million “diehard capitalists” in a Communist takeover of the United States.
This, apparently, is how the adjective “unrepentant” came to be attached to Ayers’ name. I suppose any radical can appreciate the willingness to actually do physical acts to further a cause (if not the acts or the cause themselves), so Ayers and Dohrn deserve some credit for steering hard away from apologies.
But what comes around goes around, as they say. Perhaps without realizing it, Ayers and Dohrn played a part in creating an American society where whites are coming to feel equal and opposite revolutionary longings.
TOQ Online, August 1, 2009″