Yesterday we mentioned a judgement against Home Depot for copying a patented saw design that they refused to pay the inventor for. I searched for additional information about this online, but without pulling the court documents, we have no choice but to rely on secondary sources.
After scouring the web a bit, a few additional details did come up, although the story seems to be far from complete.
The lawsuit said that Home Depot alerted Powell of a safety issue with the saw that was causing injuries. Powell, who had been a 20-year independent contractor with the company, came up with the solution, a “Safe Hands” device, to protect Home Depot’s employees. Home Depot refused to pay Powell for the device and began installing the safety device on its saws without permission.
A key piece of evidence in the case was a photo of a former Home Depot executive carrying tape measures, pencils and pads and examining one of Powell’s prototypes that had been installed at a Georgia store.
The invention in question is a safety device that is affixed to the radial/panel saws. What is not clear is why Home Depot alerted Powell to the issue. Was Powell acting in a consultant role and hired to find a solution, or was he somehow involved in the development of the saws themselves that were considered unsafe?
What also bothers me is how there were so many injuries before the safety devices were implemented. Did Home Depot not believe in properly training employees authorized to use these saws?