A Florida man scored one for the little guy when a U.S. district judge ruled that home improvement giant Home Depot (Stock Quote: ) must pay the inventor $25 million for stealing his idea.
Mike Powell, an independent contractor, came up with his “Safe Hands” device in an effort to reduce the work-related injuries that were taking place when Home Depot employees used radial saws to cut wood. The hardware store refused to pay Powell his $2,000 asking price per machine, opting instead to make their own trial saw guards.
Had Home Depot paid Powell’s original price, the saw dials would have cost the chain $4 million. Now they are on the hook for $15 million in compensatory damages, plus $3 million in punitive damages, $2.8 million for legal fees and $1 million per year in interest starting from when the device was patented in May 2006.
Needless to say, Home Depot doesn’t agree with the ruling.
“We have a strong commitment to dealing with our business partners fairly and with integrity, which is how we’ve maintained long-standing relationships with literally tens of thousands of suppliers over the past 30-plus years,” Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes wrote in an e-mail to the Palm Beach Post News. “We would never condone actions that intentionally violate another company’s intellectual property rights.”Home Depot is considering an appeal.
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