Issue Date: November 12, 2012
Leadscope: Qualifying Victory
C&EN reported that ACS won a “qualified victory” against its former employees who developed a software program and patented it (C&EN, Sept. 24, page 5). In fact, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that the ACS PathFinder program was not the same as the program of the former employees and that “the functionality of PathFinder was unequivocally not a secret.”
According to court documents, ACS failed to show “that it possessed anything more than speculation at the time it filed its lawsuit that PathFinder had been misappropriated by Leadscope.” ACS “offered no concrete evidence that Leadscope stole its product. ... The jury could reasonably infer, based on the paucity of evidence presented, that the lawsuit was objectively baseless when filed.”
“Leadscope, on the other hand, presented persuasive evidence that ACS had an intent to harm its business as its motivation in filing the lawsuit.” The venture capitalist that Leadscope was hoping would provide funding was said to be “uncomfortable moving forward” with investment until the issues with ACS “were cleared up.” The jury found that ACS had damaged Leadscope in the millions of dollars, and the appellate courts agreed. The damages for defamation were remanded for further consideration, but the liability of ACS was confirmed in all of the courts.
This was not a qualified victory for ACS.
John P. Sutton
Grass Valley, Calif.
Although there has been a lot of discussion on the Internet and among ACS members, this was the first article that I can recall in C&EN about the Leadscope case. In 2009 I was looking online for news about ACS and happened on an article in the Royal Society of Chemistry newsletter dated June 2009 entitled “News from the US—ACS loses legal battle.” It said that “the American Chemical Society stands to lose a significant amount of its financial reserves, having been unsuccessful in pursuing protracted and expensive litigation against three former employees.”
Some days later I mentioned this to a colleague, who later asked what I was talking about—it was not on the RSC website. To my amazement I found that was true; everything at the site was the same, but the one article about ACS was gone. No mention, just gone. Like the old Soviet encyclopedia articles.
I wrote to David Garner, then RSC president and someone whom I personally know, but received no reply. As I then pointed out to Garner, this is all very much like the science fiction novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” I hope the recent article represents a new openness in discussing such issues with ACS members.
Kenneth N. Raymond
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