SOUTH BEND, IND. - They gave an auction June 14 but nobody came. Lawyers representing would-be pharmaceutical bottle and cap maker Carl W. Cooke, the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Bank-ruptcy Court met at 10 a.m. June 14 in Bankruptcy Court in South Bend in an attempt to auction Cooke's patent.
The patent, for a child-resistant closure for pharmaceutical bottles, expires in 2005.
By 11 a.m., the lawyers and the judge were surprised that no bidders appeared.
The lawyers had asked Bank-ruptcy Judge Robert K. Rodi-baugh to use the largest courtroom available for the sale to accommodate what they thought would be a crowd of bidders.
The lawyers said they sent notices of the sale to more than 150 people in the plastics industry, and they expected about 30 people.
After no bidders appeared, J. Richard Ransel, the court-appointed trustee in Cooke's bankruptcy proceedings, asked the judge to allow him sell the patent privately.
Ransel is a partner in the law firm of Thorne, Grodnik, Ransel, Duncan, Byron & Hostetler of Elkhart, Ind.The sale now will be conducted by Ransel and James H. Milstone, a lawyer at Ransel's firm. The sale is subject to the judge's approval.
Before the auction, a lawyer, who spoke only on condition that he not be identified, said he had clients interested in the patent. On June 17, that lawyer said his clients' interest waned after they reviewed the patent.
``The fact that no one showed up is indicative of the value of the patent,'' the lawyer said.
The closure patent was seized by the IRS as the agency was pursuing Cooke for $800,000 in back taxes. Cooke filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January 1994, partially as a result of the IRS action.
Cooke, who had been expected by IRS officials to be present at the auction, did not attend the failed sale, and his lawyer, James Stevens, said he did not know his client's whereabouts.
Cooke has used the patent repeatedly as an asset in his attempts to start injection molding businesses to make pharmaceutical bottles and their childproof caps.
Separately, Cooke is charged with six counts of theft in connection with charges that he failed to pay health insurance premiums and income taxes for employees of a company he attempted to start in Elkhart. A trial is set for September on those charges.