Hay HaulingAn opening statement in a recent trial started with this:

In 1975, when I was 16 years old, a friend who I played football with at Nacogdoches High School and I spent the summer hauling hay. We would drive out every day looking for farmers who were baling their hay and sometimes when they were cutting hay, so we would know where to come back to when it was time to haul it.

Randy had a three-quarter ton pickup truck. Randy Simpson was my friend, and we would work from early in the morning until late at night. We'd get maybe 15 cents a bale for picking up the bales as they would come out of the baler, putting them on Randy's pickup truck, driving them to the barn, and then stacking them up in the barn. It was hot, hard, dirty work, but it was great to work for ourselves, and it was good money to us.

One day when Randy dropped me off at home he was telling me in my driveway that some of his friends had told him about a wealthy farmer that had a hay elevator, electric hay elevator that would pull the bales up to the high loft. And he said his friends had talked to him about taking the hay elevator and selling it. He asked me what I thought about it. And I told him it wasn't something I was interested in.

When I was at home that night, watching TV with my dad, he must have overheard the conversation. And he said, son, [necessary pause] Randy doesn't have a dad at home. [Pause.] You need to tell your friend [pause] that you don't take people's property without paying for it.

That's what this case is about. It's about taking property that doesn't belong to you and not paying for it.

You might wonder: Did the case have anyting to do with farming or with hay?

No. It dealt with standard-essential patents on wireless telecommunications technology.

Did East Texas figure into the case at all?

No. The dispute pitted a Taiwanese company against  one from Canada.

Did the jurors get the point?

Would you have?

The story, by the way, had a happy ending. Randy chose the right path, without prompting. And the case settled. A win-win, you might say.