Lawyers as superheroes?
Bryan Butler, Rest in Peace - left us this month on October 1, 2018. Bryan was instrumental in protecting 3Com from bigger bullies like Intel in defending our intellectual property.
Background - as part of the US Robotics acquisition, 3Com picked up a division called Megahertz in Utah, that made PCMCIA modem cards, the critical ethernet card for laptops at the time (we take Wi-Fi for granted, but there was a time you needed a card in your laptop...).
In 1999 Megahertz engineers determined that a Southern California competitor Xircom was infringing one of their patents. 3Com's offer to license the patent for a reasonable royalty was rejected by Xircom's CEO. To preserve the enforceability of the patent, Division VP Jef Graham made the decision to file an infringement action against Xircom in Utah. Unexpectedly, 30 days later, Intel bought Xircom and the stakes were dramatically altered. When 3Com offered to dismiss the suit and repeated its offer to Intel for a reasonable license, Intel instead asserted 3Com was in violation of Intel's sizable patent portfolio requiring 3Com to pay $5,000,000 annually to Intel and give up all of 3Com's patent rights in a cross license. Whoa! This was a non-starter and Intel promptly went to court against 3Com in a different federal district in California. A two front battle.
With two patent infringement cases pending in both federal courts, and summary judgment motions filed both by Intel and 3Com under consideration by judges in Utah and California, Intel's Paul Otellini called new 3Com CEO Bruce Claflin. The message: "your legal team doesn't know what it is doing. Take the offer and pay us off, including the cross license." Claflin informed his general counsel about the call and suggested 3Com follow Otellini's instructions. But both 3Com's inside and outside counsel were steadfast on the merits of our claim and elected to wait and hear from the two District Court judges. In California, Intel lost its summary judgment motion. And in Utah, 3Com won all of its claims. Shortly thereafter Intel delivered a check to 3Com for $15,000,000 and granted a 5-year covenant not to sue 3Com for any intellectual property claim.
Under leadership by Mark Michael (photo'd below), the long time general counsel for 3Com, the legal team of Bryan Butler, Bill Becker, Ron Friedman, Scott Forsyth, Steve Yu, and others stood their ground, defending 3Com from intimidation or extortion from Intel. Bryan's last role was Counsel for IBM Research for neuromorphic (cognitive) computing, and taught at Lincoln Law School.