Monday, December 29, 2008

More Orchestrated Failure

Although I had very little interaction with laboratory people because of my writing, I noticed a new pattern developing. In addition to spending a couple of hours a day on the telephone, Buzz was now calling in sick on alternate Mondays and Fridays. He was also taking half days off for personal business. When I first noticed the occurrence, I began marking the days he was absent on my desk calendar. After about a month of documenting his actions, I calculated that he was effectively working a four day week, and I was powerless to do anything about it. If I talked to Buzz about it, he would run to Darth who would make light of the whole thing and then Darth would probably reprimand me for handling the situation incorrectly. I was powerless to take action.

Finally in desperation, I discussed the problems concerning Buzz with Jeff Teller.

“Look at this. Buzz is absent all the time,” I said pointing to my appointment calendar.

Jeff Teller looked shocked and exclaimed, “You're documenting it!!”

I replied, “Sure, and if I go to Darth he'll just ignore it.”

“Yeah, that's the way he is,” Jeff answered uneasily.

Jeff then left my office without offering any suggestions or help.

Shortly after that conversation, Buzz's daily attendance dramatically improved. I was confused by his sudden change in his behavior. It almost seemed as if his actions had been planned and orchestrated.

My faint hopes of adding a new person were squelched a few weeks later when I received a letter from Mack Mark rejecting my offer. It was a standard rejection letter with no specific reason given for not accepting the Delta Oil offer. Since I wanted to confirm suspicions that the low salary was a major factor, I gave Mack a call. He stated that he had accepted another offer that was 25% higher than the Gamma Supplies offer. As I probed more, he revealed that he had received three other offers beside the Gamma Supplies offer and that the Gamma starting salary was the lowest of the the four offers. I already knew what he was telling me, but I wanted proof for when I was put on the defensive by Darth and the Arnold cline as to why I had not hire someone new for the lab.

The typical scenario had evolved. I was told to do something, which was hire a new
person for the lab, and then I was thwarted to the point of being put in an impossible situation. Now I would have to defend “my failure”. It also seemed more and more that my trip to New Orleans just prior to my deposition was just for R&R to make sure I would be in a good mood and give favorable testimony.

I went about the business of contacting the remaining candidates, but since almost six weeks had passed since the ACS meeting they all had made decisions to accept positions elsewhere which left me with no viable prospects. As expected, Arnold Cline summoned me to his office and grilled me on the progress in locating a person for the laboratory. I explained the situation to him, including the low salary offer to Mack Mark, and outlined alternative routes to obtaining the services of someone else. He acted annoyed at my failure and told me to keep at it because it was important to get someone else in the laboratory as soon as possible. I said fine, but I really saw no reason at that point to hire someone new for the laboratory.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Push out the door starts.

The next day I returned to the laboratory to face Jeff, John and Buzz whom I now referred to as the Three Musketeers. They acted in the laboratory as though they spent all their free time together. They told me they got up each morning and exercised at Club Tennis together and then they jogged together. Of course, their ultimate objective was to get rid of me and they made no attempt to hide that fact.

One day I got into an argument with Jeff over the installation of a dart board in the lab. Finally, after a heated debate, I said that there would be not dart playing in the laboratory. I went back to my office, sat down and looked through the doorway of the laboratory and saw John telling Jeff in a loud voice, “Now don't push it. Just do what I say and we'll get him.” By now such blatant hostility was just standard practice and I just shrugged it off.

My plans to hire a new person for the laboratory were also being thwarted. I brought Mack Mark, one of the chemists I had interviewed in New Orleans into Gamma for an in-depth interview. Things were going well until lunch time. Darth suggested that he, Jay and Carl join Mack and I for lunch at the Full Sails. I agreed. Mack was an intelligent, serious professional who was interested in learning as much as he could about Gamma Supplies during his visit.

At lunch time, Darth, Jay and Carl sat on one side of the table and Mack and I sat on the other side. Mack tried in vain to ask intelligent questions, but Darth, Jay and Carl were acting like they were the Three Stooges and repeatedly talked nonsense. I tried without too much success to make sense out of their actions, but I was helpless to try to save the interview. Mack left the lunch with a disappointed, confused expression on his face and I could only imagine what must have been going through his mind. I knew I would not be getting a new person for the laboratory. Mack was obviously annoyed and unimpressed by the “Three Stooges”, but there was little I could do to correct the situation. That afternoon before Mack left the site, I informed him he would be getting a formal offer from us. He did not respond very enthusiastically.

The following day I began discussing with Carl what kind of stipend would be best to induce Mack to accept our offer. Since Gamma Supplies had a poor benefits package, I thought it was best to give him a good salary offer. Carl agreed with me in principal and then suggested we offer Mack a starting salary that was equal to what I had received three years earlier when I started working in industry. I argued that his suggested salary offer was low, but Carl was adamant and proceeded to give me a lecture on being fiscally conservative. I didn't mention it, but apparently Carl never heard that you get what you pay for. Finally, Carl yielded a little and agreed to make Carl an offer for $2,000 per year more than what
he had originally suggested. I knew from the current job market that the offer was still ridiculously low, but I went through the motions and wrote up an offer and sent it to Mack.

If the clown act at lunch had not turned off Mack, the salary offer most assuredly would. I mailed off the offer knowing I was just going through the motions and that the offer would be rejected.

My lab work now consisted primarily of writing a patent application. Every other day Dan Gane would call to see how I was progressing and the days he didn't call, Darth would stick his head in my office to inquire how things were coming on the patent application. Other than that, I never saw Darth which was fine with me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The CRIMINALLY INSANE get what they want - My Testamony!

My deposition took place on March 30, 1977. The official document states the

“Deposition of XXXXXXX X. XXXXX, called for examination by the Plaintiff,
under and pursuant to the Federal Rules and Civil Procedure, pursuant to
notice, before Moneen L. Behtea, a Notary Public in and for the state of
Wisconsin, at 250 East Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the
30th day of March 1977, commencing at 9:30 o'clock in the morning.


DEWEY, CHEATEM and HOWE by Cruz Little, Esq., and J. Barry Champs, Esq. appeared on
behalf of the plaintiff.

Fried, Wezel, and Gane by Dan Gane, Esq.
Chicago, Illinois 606033 appeared on behalf of the defendant.

Also present for the plaintiff:
Robert L. Laity
Jane Bitzen

The last two people listed for the plaintiff are scientists form the Arthur D. Little Consulting Company who were there to determine my technical competency. During thelunch break of my first day of testimony, they informed Cruz Little that I was competent and that they could not be of any help so they left after the lunch recess.

The questioning initially concentrated on my education and industrial background and quickly progressed to my introduction to Gamma Supplies and the foundry industry. I answered all questions strictly in line with the Gamma Supplies story and avoided all taboo subjucts such as Tenneland.

The afternoon session quickly progressed into a discussion of the technical issues andthe phenolic product being manufactured by Tenneland for Delta Oil. At this point I answered that I had no knowledge of what Tenneland did because Ravi Sardess and Carl Host handled that end of the business. All I ever saw was the phenolic resin product that arrived at the Gamma Supplies' plant. As the questioning continued, Cruz Little started to delve into the Gamma “Rapid Set” formulation and the effect of what I will call a “polyol material”. The “polyol material” was the basis of the Ravi Sardess and Darth Korey patent, and its beneficial effects in the “Rapid Set” formulation were questionable. At one point I had generated data which showed the laboratory data John Mason had reported was not accurate and that the amounts of the “polyol material” in the formulation was way too high. I had shown the data to Darth and he was not pleased with it, because at
that time, the presence of the polyol material was a major element in the Gamma Supplies defense. Darth had taken the appeasement route and reduced the “polyol material” a small amount in the “Rapid Set” formulation. The change was not enough to make any significant performance difference. At the same time, he preserved the “polyol material” defense, but both he and I were well aware that the polyol material defense was very weak. I did not discuss the data with anyone else, and it did not appear in any of my monthly reports. Cruz Little was now probing in that area and I was uncomfortable so I asked for a short break. When the questioning resumed, Cruz Little started by asking questions on another topic. Just like that the problem disappeared and I was relieved that he had stopped
pursuing the “polyol material” subject.

As the questioning continued, it became more and more clear that the failure of Example 12 to work was a key issue. Mr. Little questioned me over and over again on how I ran the test, what possibly was wrong with the way I ran the test and why I thought Example 12 did not work. I was well prepared for his questions and had no trouble defending the Gamma Supplies position that Example 12 was a bogus example. Surprisingly, Mr. Little did not ask about the other patent example I had found which was very similar to Example 12. My fears concerning questions on that subject were not realized. Again, I felt a sense of relief.

After a day and a half of testimony, my deposition was concluded.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The FATAL Decision

That evening at home I did a lot of soul searching. Something was drastically wrong, but I didn't know what. The next morning I was suppose to go in and testify on behalf of Gamma Supplies. Since the technical issues were in the grey area and were not black and white,I could support Gammma Supplies' position or I could sink the whole Gamma Supplies' defense. It was really a matter of which side I wanted to take.

The non-technical issues were likewise unclear and rather muddy. While Gamma Supplies had presented to the courts and Better Supplies the image of a small company that had accidentally stumbled into Better Supplies' area of patent coverage, I was well aware of Tennelands participation and had other evidence that Gamma Supplies attack on the Better Supplies patents was well planned and orchestrated. One document I was given was a letter from Better Supplies' attorneys dated April 1976, which stated that Gamma Supplies should seek legal counsel because of the legal action Better Suppliesw was pursuing. However, in my snooping around in the lab, I had come across a lengthy letter from Dan Game to Rave, Darth and Arnold Cline, dated October 17, 1975. The letter detailed a complete strategy for defeating the Better Supplies patents. In fact, on page 8, Dan states:

“ might be to Gamma's best interest to take license thereunder at a very nominal paid-up royalty, since a nominal royalty might be more
economical in the long run than defending a patent infringement

However, the actions of the people at Gamma Supplies supported the story that Gamma Supplies had just stumbled into the whole affair, and that was the story I was suppose to present. One thing I was sure of was that the litigation had industry wide implications and a lot of people besides Gamma Supplies would benefit if the Better Supplies patents were broken. Regardless of my status at Gamma Supplies, it was in my best interest of my career to support the Gamma Supplies cause. I could not let my intense dislike for Darth and the Clines be the deciding factor. I had to believe that more rational people were behind the orchestrated attack on the Better Supplies' patents and that in the long run, it would best for me to give a supportive testimony.

However, Darth's condescending attitude toward me should have been a warning that maybe the people who were behind the orchestrated attack on the Better supplies patents were NOT SANE and RATIONAL. The ideas that I might be dealing with CRIMINALLY INSANE people did not cross my mind at the time.

There was one other consideration in deciding what to do about my testimony. Dan Gane had explained to me that the deposition was a preliminary questioning procedure from which the attorneys extracted information which they used for questioning during the actual trial. He did point out that in cases where a witness could not appear for the trial the deposition could be presented at the trial as that witness's testimony. Since I saw no reason why I would not be able to appear at the trial, I believed my deposition would not be my final word in the legal proceedings. Thus, Gamma Supplies would still need my services.
For anyone reading this story, I have a question: What would you have done? I can tell you that you are missing one critical piece of information that I didn't have either at the time of the decision.