PA firefighter sues attorneys over failure to secure patent application

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau May 21, 2012, 6:34pm

HOUSTON - A Port Arthur firefighter claims two Harris County attorneys failed to follow through on his application for a patent, recent court documents say.

According to a lawsuit filed May 11 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, William E. Johnson, Jacob S. Matthis and The Matthews Law Firm P.L.L.C. negligently represented Scott Wonders in his effort to patent a device he invented almost nine years ago that would "increase the efficiency of any compressed air recharge system to maximize recharges."

The suit shows Wonders, who worked for the Port Arthur Fire Department for more than 30 years, built his first auto-cascade and retro-fitted a PAFD rescue truck four-stage manual cascade with a three-stage CAMSystem Auto-Cascade in early August 2003 and subsequently filed three separate disclosure document deposit requests with the U.S. Patent Office as evidence of the date of the conception of his supposed invention.

Wonders sold his portable auto-cascade to Big Hill Strategic Petroleum Reserve in June 2004 and met with respondent Johnson two months later to discuss a patent application.

After meeting two representatives from Scott Technologies about the auto-cascade at a conference in October 2004, the plaintiff made an initial payment to the defendants to start the application process.

The original petition further explains that the complainant would contact the attorneys to touch base on the form's status, but "most of the calls went unanswered" during the time they represented him.

It took Johnson almost eight months to get back with Wonders, and unbeknownst to the latter, an almost identical patent from Scott Technologies was filed on Aug. 11, 2005, the suit states.

Wonders claims that he learned about the Scott Technologies patent in early 2010 and requested that Mathis take appropriate action in challenging said patent, adding he wanted to include a drawing which was reportedly essential to the process.

The suit states the respondents, however, did not add the drawing and sent the wrong response to the Patent Office, which enabled the Scott Technologies patent to stand.

Wonders argues the defendants' alleged neglect forced him to pay close to $2,500 in order to make a new filing.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney Lance Christopher Kassab of Houston is representing the plaintiff. U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes is presiding over the case.

Case No. 4:12-cv-1479

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