Hawk Attack

8 10 2008

Gary Odom is an Oregon patent consultant who also blogs as Patent Hawk. Now he’s sued his former client, Microsoft, in the Eastern District of Texas, saying the software company infringes his patent with its Office 2007 toolbar.

In the comment section of his four-line post, Odom writes that “Microsoft was a Patent Hawk client for years. They had every
opportunity for friendly discussion. The words ‘patent tax’ were used,
and Microsoft chose a path consistent with their corporate culture.”

Odom’s litigation spurred a sharp response from libertarian writer and attorney Stephen Kinsella, who wrote about the case on the Against Monopoly blog:

Patent Prospector implies that there’s something wrong with
viewing such a threat as a “tax”. There’s not. That’s exactly what it
is. Odom threatens his former client with severe financial damage by
the state’s thugs, and they call it a “tax.” Hey, unfair! They are
supposed to just pay their former attorney! …

I think I just may start asking patent attorneys my company
hires to include a little clause in the retainer agreement: “and we
promise not to sue you, our client, for patent infringement in the

(On his website, Odom identifies himself as a consultant providing a variety of patent-related services, not an attorney; Kinsella’s post was updated accordingly.) Odom is represented by Susman Godfrey, a Texas firm whose patent work is mostly on the plaintiff’s side these days.

This via Patently-O, where Dennis Crouch notes that Office 2007 users “might check to see whether your Microsoft click-through license includes indemnification.” Um… I actually don’t know whether that’s a joke or not.

Photo: Flickr/Major Clanger

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