I am not a writer but I have done my best to put the story together. By its very nature there is a lot of legal input but I have tried on the final edit to cut this to a minimum. I hope that something of the flavour of her battle and indomitable spirit comes through; as well as some of the humour that we experienced. It was often not amusing at the time, but in retrospect the funny side shone through and we would often enjoy the re-telling of those episodes in an otherwise traumatic life.
Her ten-year legal battle and her victory over Pye Radio made legal history. The case is still cited today in instructing law students in patent infringement law. Pye Radio made a donkey of the English legal system when she was forced into a rigged bankruptcy after Pye bought one of her debts and manipulated the Official Receiver in Bankruptcy to dance to their tune. He settled her damages claim against them – which would have run into millions – for a derisory settlement of a few thousand pounds. She died from cancer, broken-hearted, a bankrupt, homeless, in poverty and separated from her children, who meant the whole world to her.
I have selected here a few extracts from the book.
From Chapter 1: Insane or What? England 1955
- Marie always referred to the time she was snatched off the street and taken to Brookwood Psychiatric hospital as being ‘kidnapped’. In this chapter, she explains to the ward sister how the police became involved in her forced incarceration at Brookwood. It was only her resolve to keep a cool head and cooperate with the nursing staff that enabled her to overcome the shock of her incarceration. Her solicitor confirmed her story of the infringement by Pye and unlocked the door to freedom.
From Chapter 11: The Good Samaritan
- Marie was so desperate when faced yet again with eviction from her lodgings with her four children, one just a baby of six weeks, that she phoned the newly founded Samaritans organisation. Chad Varah, the founder, informed her that she was his first phone call. The call resulted in the family spending the night in his church, whilst he drove round in a taxi trying to find somebody among his friends to take in baby Christina. After a futile few hours, the taxi driver, impressed with Chad Varah’s efforts, contacted his wife and they agreed to give Christina a home until accommodation could be found for the family.
From Chapter 33: Infringement or Not?
- It had been a long journey for Marie in her battle with Pye Ltd, involving many years of burning the midnight oil; immersing herself in Patent Law; gathering the evidence of Pye’s infringement of her Patent covering the truncated sound reproducing stylus. A journey that had brought in its wake a lot of stress and upheaval for her and the family. Now finally she had reached her destination – the High Courts of Justice in the Strand, London. She was accompanied by her two eldest daughters, Dawn and Cynthia. As she strode through the cavernous building, she felt the excitement of the moment take hold of her. She searched the lists of court cases displayed in a glass cabinet in the great hall. There it was: Killick V Pye Ltd, to be heard in Chancery Division Court 2. The eminent patent judge, Justice Lloyd-Jacob would hold the outcome of her hard work and sacrifice in his hands. She felt confident that British Justice would not let her down.
From Chapter 35: The Show Must Go On
- Judgement had been awarded against Pye Radio for infringement of Marie’s patent covering her truncated record stylus. Now the question was, would Pye appeal to the Appeal Court? Marie and the family were kept in suspense. An injunction had been granted by the court to prevent Pye Radio from manufacturing any more of Marie’s stylii. Marie was eager to restart manufacture of her invention. To this end, she approached the bank for a loan in lieu of her damages claim. However, with the possibility of the judgement being overturned by the higher court, the bank was not supportive of this aim.
From Chapter 39: The Final Judgement
- Pye Radio had been found guilty on December 21st 1957, in the Chancery Division of the Royal Courts of Justice, of infringing Marie’s patent. Pye had appealed to the Appeal Court and now, seven months later, the day had arrived for the three appeal judges to give their judgement. Marie and her daughters sat in the court, knowing that at the end of the day their happiness depended on the Appeal Court upholding the judgement of the lower court in Marie’s favour. If it went in her favour, the battle would be won and justice would have been served and all that would remain is for her damages to be assessed!
From Chapter 61: Gay Paris! Liberty!
- This chapter tells of mother’s fight to prevent her creditors from having her declared bankrupt, and the Official Reciever’s hostility to her in regard to her damage claim against Pye Radio. She flies to Paris to negotiate a deal with the Banque de Paris for a loan of £25,000, using a share in her British Patent as security. This would enable her to pay her debts and regain control of her damage claim against Pye. The Official Receiver did not inform the committee of creditors at the meeting and Mother was forced to jump up and inform them herself. Unbeknown to her at the time Pye had bought one of her debts. The creditors voted to have her declared a bankrupt.