Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/03/01/spado_vs_watsons/

IBM heirs battle 'my mother is my girlfriend' cash claim

Big Blues see red over pink adoption

By Christopher Williams

Posted in Law, 1st March 2007 00:54 GMT

A lesbian woman who had a long term relationship with one of the daughters of IBM president Thomas J. Watson Jr is fighting for her right to a share of his legacy.

Patricia Spado lived with Olive Watson for more than 10 years until they separated in 1992. Watson adopted Spado under Maine law in 1991. At 44 years old, Spado was one year her senior.

The unusual arrangement was designed to circumvent anti-gay marriage laws and allow Spado to become a legal heir to the trust fund Thomas Watson Jr set up for his grandkiddies, bringing the total number of beneficiaries to 19.

When the couple separated, Olive Watson signed an agreement with her ex stating: "I have not and that I shall at no time initiate any action to revoke or annul my adoption of you."

However, Thomas J. Watson's 18 grandchildren are arguing that the fund, which was opened on his death in 1993, was aimed at blood relatives and that he had no knowledge of the adoption.

Fund chief Thomas J. Watson III successfully challenged the legality of the adoption in Connecticut, where his father died. Spado is appealing that decision, and is fighting another attempt by the trust to have the adoption annulled in Maine.

If Spado is denied the millions, she could do worse than get a job at IBM, which earlier this year topped a poll of the most fabulous places for gay people to work. ®