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Baker Hughes and Bracewell Fend Off a Patent Challenge

Eleven years ago, Baker Hughes hired innovation firm PCDworks to design a linear, motor-based safety valve to be used downhole in oil and gas wells. Engineer Dr. Kenneth Wilson, PCDworks’ director of material sciences at the time, developed the technology.

But when Baker Hughes patented the technology in 2012, Dr. Wilson refused to assign his rights to the Houston-based energy company, alleging he personally owned the technology, not PCDworks. Though PCDworks had company policies that would have negated Wilson’s claim, he
refused to sign that particular contract.

He sued Baker Hughes in Harris County District Court once he left PCDworks. And because PCDworks is likely not the only contractor Baker Hughes has worked with to develop patented technology, Dr. Wilson’s lawsuit threatened to set a perilous precedent if he had won.

But he didn’t, thanks to the work of Baker Hughes in-house patent lawyer Anthony Matheny and its outside law firm, Bracewell.

Their teamwork on this case has landed them as one of the finalists for the 2019 Houston Corporate Counsel Awards’ Business Litigation of the Year.

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