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.