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Who Was Elizabeth Holmes' Neighbor Who She Accused Of Making A Patent To Spite Her?

Richard Fuisz went to great lengths to make Elizabeth Holmes look like a fool in "The Dropout," and it's definitely based in reality.

By Gina Tron
The Theranos And Elizabeth Holmes Case, Explained

In Hulu’s new dramatized series, a neighbor of disgraced tech CEO Elizabeth Holmes creates a patent to spite her.

The neighbor, a friend of the family, apparently felt slighted when the young Holmes didn’t go to him, an inventor, for advice as she was trying to invent her own groundbreaking product. So, he in turn created a patent to teach her a "lesson" and to make her pay him for it. That neighbor, Richard Fuisz, is played by William H. Macy. He goes to great lengths to ruin the life and career of Holmes, played by Amanda Seyfriend. Several scenes show him fighting with Holmes' parents and telling journalists that she is a fraud. 

That fraud part is very true. The real Holmes was indicted in 2018 for defrauding numerous investors by making false claims about the breakthrough medical technology her company Theranos had supposedly developed. It turned out, what she was proposing wasn’t technically possible; she had faked a prototype of the device. A jury convicted her on four fraud counts in January.

Indeed, the real Holmes did became embroiled with her former neighbor over a patent dispute and the neighbor went to great lengths to ruin his former neighbor. Richard Fuisz, an inventor, attorney, psychiatrist and former CIA agent, created a patent that would embroil him and Holmes in court with one another for years. Holmes accused Fuisz and his family of stealing a secret Theranos patent so he could rival her. She filed a lawsuit against him in 2011 and three years later, Fuisz and Holmes settled. He told Forbes that neither party received anything from the patent.

Elizabeth Holmes

In that interview with Forbes, Fuisz makes his disdain for Holmes and her family very clear. 

"Our kids grew up with their kids. They were jealous of our family," he claimed. "I was a physician who had many patents and made money off of them and knew Arabic."

He even claimed that Holmes' mother "programmed Elizabeth to be like me, invent and learn a language."

And, indeed, he helped take Holmes down as he became a primary source for John Carreyrou, a Wall Street Journal reporter, as he investigated Theranos. In Carreyrou's 2018 book on Holmes, "Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup," Fuisz states, “I intend to seek my revenge and sue the f--- out of them when this is over, and you can guarantee I will not let Elizabeth Holmes have another f---ing company as long as she lives.”

In 2021, he told Ethical Systems, who he reached out to talk to about Holmes, that he felt that she had become a scapegoat. 

"What concerns me — as an attorney, and as someone who knows some of the facts first hand — is that mob mentality is undermining the justice system," he said. "The goal of the system has to be to expose the truth, not find an easy scapegoat. Elizabeth is an easy scapegoat.”

The website for Fuisz's family business lists hundreds of patents that the family created over the years.

"Fuisz is a family held company with broad technological interests and a long and proven track record in innovation, including major ($ billion+) product launches for big and specialty pharma as well as global consumer products companies," the site states.

Fuisz's life, like Holmes, has been anything but boring. A 1992 New York Times article named him as the primary source behind allegations that the U.S. intelligence had helped to arm the Iraqi military during the Gulf War. 

Now 82, he's also active on Twitter and continues to share articles about his connection to Holmes.

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