Philip French came up with design for the cable linker more than 15 years ago after he was inspired by the seam on a tennis ball.
The idea was picked up by Lucent which was involved in some top secret work for the government and asked the inventors for a hand.
The idea was that Lucent would license French's patent if it all worked out. The inventor, and his business partners sent over plans, sketches and a model. French began consulting and advising a Lucent engineer in monthly phone calls.
However, when the work was all competed, Lucent said it did not have to license anything because it was under some sort of provision for military secret stuff.
The case went to court and much to everyone's surprise, Lucent was found to be allowed to take the idea under an ancient English law that lets the government effectively kill civil lawsuits deemed a threat to national security.
French did get some cash out of it. His partners wanted to get $500,000 from Lucent as a token payment he was happy to accept $100,000 the outfit offered. His partners bought him out for $30,000 which he used to buy a nice new garage.
More at Wired, here. µ
Good news for Surface Pro X owners
You could soon buy that ivory backscratcher on Marketplace in a few taps
Just in case you're too posh for Whole Foods