Home Depot Fingered for Patent Violation

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.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

If you liked this article you might like

When a Credit Union Is Your Best Card Option

3 Signs a Rewards Card Will Really Reward You

10 Simple Ways to Avoid College Debt

10 Tips to Skirting Sky-High Airfare

10 Items to Stop Paying For Once You Have Retired