Reno, Nev.–Inventor Jerome H. Lemelson fiercely, and with considerable success, litigated with big companies around the world during his life to extract licensing revenues linked to his many patents.

A private foundation he started has carried on his litigious tradition since his death in 1997. But in a delicious legal twist, a Colorado mining company now claims, in a lawsuit filed in Reno, Nev., that it is the real owner of Lemelson patents covering widely used bar code technology and should be paid millions of dollars.