Fark settles with patent troll for $0

News aggregator Fark, targeted by a company owning a patent covering "news releases", settled its case for $0. Fark proprietor Drew Curtis writes about what sounds like an unusually callous and disinterested shakedown.

The patent troll realized we were going to fight them instead of settle, so they asked for our best offer. I said how about you get nothing and drop the lawsuit? They accepted.

The patent covered a method for inputting news releases into a web form, which would then compile the news release and email it to media outlets. Now, aside from the fact that a ton of prior art exists and that the patent should never have been awarded in the first place, Fark and all the other websites named in the lawsuit don't produce "news releases". In the world of journalism, the term "news release" is equivalent to "press release" - the patent itself equates the two in the opening description. Could a judge have ruled otherwise? Sure. They've been known to rule that the sky is green - which is why this lawsuit was dangerous.

News release, news story, blog post ... what's the difference? Curtis notes that it's already cost a lot of money, and that it would cost millions to try and recover it.

The patent troll, Gooseberry Natural Resources, also sued TechCrunch and many others; Reddit and Yahoo have settled, but AOL is apparently fighting on.

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  1. Hey, I own the patent on settling court cases for $0! Fark and Gooseberry better pony up some cash pronto.

  2. “It’s additionally frustrating to Kennedy that he can’t know who is actually accusing him of patent infringement. Gooseberry Natural Resources, LLC has taken extraordinary steps to hide the identity of its owner. Corporate records held by the Texas Secretary of State show that a second Delaware-based shell company, Vertigo Holding LLC, owns Gooseberry. Since Vertigo Holding is incorporated in Delaware, it is not required to list its officers or owners. Vertigo’s address is the same Newark, Delaware address as A.I. Business Services, a company that sets up “virtual offices” to help clients “portray the image of a large corporation.” It boasts that its staff “are all trained in sales and customer serice and daily play or act as if they are in Delaware, Florida, or Texas — regardless of where our offices truly are.””

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100720/00442110286.shtml

  3. I’m starting my own firm, “Goosewhistle Natural Resources.” We’ll be representing clients during litigious processes dealing with unlicensed flatulence. You can all expect to receive some papers in the mail soon.

  4. “The patent troll realized we were going to fight them instead of settle, so they asked for our best offer.”

    They lost a good opportunity. “You pay me $500”

  5. I have an image in my mind of the Fark folks handing them an empty envelope, like Christian Slater did to Gary Oldman in True Romance.

  6. As a Farker since the earlier days, I applaud Drew for having the balls to fight.  He’s definitely the kind of guy who has a strong anti-dumbass agenda.

    1. Yeah me too. Drew has squirrelled (ha) away lots of Fark’s profits for a decade into a legal fund, knowing these kinds of fights were ahead without knowing specifically what they could be. Rather nice for a guy who runs a silly snarky web site.

    1. Not your personal army, etc..

      Patent trolls will get theirs, eventually; at least that’s the hope.

      No sense in thinking people will stop being inherently false, greedy, upward-scrabbling types though; not in our basic nature, that.

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