Five years ago, a patent troll called "Personal Audio" started demanding money from podcasters, claiming that their patent on mailing cassette tapes of people reading magazines (a ridiculous patent on its face) also covered podcasting. Read the rest
Oklahoma's Anyware Mobile Solutions was founded in 1997 to make PDA software, but after its sales collapsed, it changed its name to Macrosolve and devoted itself to suing people for violating a farcical patent that they said covered filling in questionnaires using an app. Read the rest
Researcher Yarden Katz scraped the database of Intellectual Ventures, a giant business that buys up patents, but produces nothing but lawsuits (previously), and discovered that IV claims ownership of nearly 500 patents that were created at public expense by researchers employed by public universities, and another 100 or so patents filed by the US Navy. Read the rest
Unified Patents raises money from companies that are the target of patent-trolling and then uses it to challenge the most widely used patents in each of its members' sectors: now it's going for the gold. Read the rest
Following a 2014 verdict, courts may now punish patent trolls with the defense costs that their litigation incurs. An appeals court has now upheld an attorney fees ruling handed to Lumen View, a company that makes nothing of value, yet behaved as if it owned the abstract concept of matchmaking.
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided, however, that the $300k awarded was too high, and returned the case to district court for another hearing. Joe Mullin writes:
In Friday's decision, the appeals judges agreed with Cote that Lumen View was out of line.Read the rest
"Even if Lumen View’s litigation conduct was not quite sanctionable, the court reasonably determined that the case was exceptional," wrote US Circuit Judge Alan Lourie on behalf of a unanimous panel. "The allegations of infringement were ill-supported, particularly in light of the parties’ communications and the proposed claim constructions, and thus the lawsuit appears to have been baseless."
However, the judges found that Cote overstepped when she doubled the fees against Lumen View.
The plaintiff-friendly East Texas district has long been patent trolls' favorite place to file lawsuits, but one was so egregious that even their favorite judge has not only shut it down, but awarded costs against them.
Ars Technica's Joe Mullin reports that US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, "who hears more patent cases that any other federal judge," ordered that eDekka's behavior was exceptionally bad and that the it should pay the legal fees of the companies it sued.
…until this order was issued, Gilstrap had never before ordered any patent plaintiff to pay up for filing massive numbers of lawsuits, even after it became the easier to win such awards after the Octane Fitness case.
These changes in the patent trolling landscape made the court's friendliness to them seem more explicit. Perhaps it just took a while to sink in? Read the rest
Ever since VE Holding, a 1990 Federal Circuit decision, patent holders have been able to sue their adversaries in practically any court in America, leading to competition among jurisdictions to see which one bend the furthest backwards to deliver patent-friendly decisions and so tempt the nation's most litigious companies to sue in their local courthouse. Read the rest
The USPTO granted a notorious patent troll a patent on allowing customers to change quantities after they place their initial order. Read the rest
The Judicial Conference of the US has approved the elimination of Rule 84, a court procedure designed to help small patent-holders streamline their lawsuits, but which has been weaponized by patent trolls, who use it to indiscriminately file lawsuits on a mass scale in the hopes of bullying quick settlements out of their victims. Read the rest
The school's clinic is run like a law office and offers free counsel based both on need and on the interestingness of the cases for law students. Read the rest
Adi from EFF writes, "Engine Advocacy worked with artist Kirby Ferguson (of Everything is a Remix fame) to create this great primer on patent trolls. It beautifully and succinctly lays out the patent problem, which is one of the hottest topics on the Hill right now. EFF, Public Knowledge, and Engine are pushing for people to call their senators to demand strong patent reform, and we have a handy tool at fixpatents.org for all you to do so!" Read the rest
Here's a reading (MP3) of a my November, 2013 Locus column, Collective Action, in which I propose an Internet-enabled "Magnificent Seven" business model for foiling corruption, especially copyright- and patent-trolling. In this model, victims of extortionists find each other on the Internet and pledge to divert a year's worth of "license fees" to a collective defense fund that will be used to invalidate a patent or prove that a controversial copyright has lapsed. The name comes from the classic film The Magnificent Seven (based, in turn, on Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai) in which villagers decide one year to take the money they'd normally give to the bandits, and turn it over to mercenaries who kill the bandits. Read the rest
Personal Audio is a patent troll that claims to own the process of sending audio around because they bought a patent from a guy who read Scientific American articles onto cassette tapes and sent them through the mail (seriously!). The Electronic Frontier Foundation is seeking to invalidate this patent -- which Personal Audio is using to shake down all kinds of indie podcasters for protection money -- using a new, cheaper, streamlined process.
Personal Audio is fighting dirty. They've filed an expensive lawsuit outside of the patent proceeding, and subpoenaed the names and personal details of everyone who donated to the campaign against their patent, purely to raise the price of adjudicating their patent and to intimidate podcasters who gave to the litigation fund rather than paying off Personal Audio.
EFF is fighting back. At stake is the process that is supposed to fix one tiny corner of the patent quagmire -- if Personal Audio's tactic succeeds, it will kill Congress's patent-fix dead.
The Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School has offered free counsel to anyone who's worried about the subpoena. Read the rest