Interesting story from the New York Times (although I’m linking CNET News.com instead, so no one has to register) about the man who invented the Walkman. And, no, it wasn’t some Sony engineer, it was Andreas Pavel who tried to sell his 1972 invention to every electronics firm around, but none believed anyone would want to stick headphones in their ears and wander around looking like a fool.
Flash forward to 1977 and Pavel patents his work in Italy, followed shortly by patents in the U.S., Germany, England and Japan. Sony starts selling the Walkman in 1979. Pavel sues in 1980 and six years later, Sony agrees to a royalty fee — in Germany only.
Pavel sues again in 1989 and spends the next fourteen years (!!!) in and out of court suing and being counter-sued by Sony. In 2003 they settle out of court for an undisclosed sum (but probably in the low eight-figure range) and he still receives royalties on some Walkman sales.
Prior to the settlement in 2003, Pavel owed over $3 million in court costs and had all his assets frozen by Sony.
And you thought they screwed you over with that little DRM deal, hmm?