Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Patents The Courts Your Rights Online

Patent Troll Lawyer Sanctioned Over Extortion Tactics 147

An anonymous reader writes "For all the stories of patent trolls and copyright trolls, there haven't been too many stories of either being sanctioned for abusive or extortion-like practices... until now. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (one level below the Supreme Court) has approved over $600,000 in sanctions against a lawyer for a patent troll, saying that filing over a hundred lawsuits, each of which was followed up almost immediately with offers to settle at fees much cheaper than it would cost to fight, has the 'indicia of extortion.' Now if only judges started doing that more often."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Patent Troll Lawyer Sanctioned Over Extortion Tactics

Comments Filter:
  • by Morose ( 32606 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:05PM (#37033648)

    I was actually just listening to This American Life a few days ago. Their podcast talking about how much the patent system is abused is extremely enlightening. For example, did you know there is a patent on "Thermally refreshing bread" (IE, toasting)? Not only that, but it was issued in 2000! []

  • Re:Good.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Infiniti2000 ( 1720222 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:38PM (#37034024)

    ... Now, start shooting the patent trolls.

    Shooting is insufficient, you have to burn the regenerating motherfuckers.

  • by bobaferret ( 513897 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:40PM (#37034056)

    You need to pay more attention. According to the NPR story that ran a few weeks back, that's exactly what they do. Little tiny offices with no occupants in some small town in Texas, which are effectively controlled by the company that owns the patent pool every one else bought into. Ugh... makes me sick. Sorry if I missed the sarcasm in your post.

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:43PM (#37034098) Homepage

    The RIAA has been using similar tactics only with copyright instead of patent. They file a bunch of John Doe lawsuits, get the people's names, contact them and say "Hey, you can settle with us for a low, low (but not too low) fee or we will sue you for a ton of money." Of course, this patent troll isn't as big as the RIAA is, so the chance that they would be found to be extorting money out of alleged infringers is much lower.

  • Re:Wait, what? (Score:4, Informative)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:47PM (#37034146)

    So, Apple can sue over patents, and the RIAA can extort money, but if you combine the two it's suddenly over the line? Don't get me wrong, this guy had it coming, but let's not pretend that somehow the issue of patent trolling and extortion is being dealt with on any decent level. Had this guy worked for any large company, he'd be in the clear.

    The point here was that a patent holder says "I have a patent, I sue you, so just pay me a small amount that is much less than you would spend to beat me in court". That is abusing the court system; going to court not because you have a case but because it is cheaper for the defendant to pay you off than to win.

    That is surely not what Nokia did to Apple, and what Apple is doing to Samsung now. Apple is saying to Samsung "I have this patent, and I don't want you to do the stuff in the patent". No paying off, no extortion.

    And what the RIAA did, while it can be considered extortion, is something completely different again. They at least _believe_ that they have a case. The patent troll here _knows_ they don't have a case. (And copyright cases have been lost with sanctions when the copyright holder _knew_ they had no case, like Righthaven).

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:51PM (#37034204) Homepage

    The Supreme Court might decide that extortion which is asking for an agreement not to pursue a known legal right--i.e. suing you--is perfectly legal.

    Well, if nobody has decided on the merits of the case, but you're immediately providing an offer to settle which is lower than likely legal fees ... I fail to see how this is anything but extortion.

    What's to stop this lawyer from filing suit against a bunch of people who you have no evidence against whatsoever? In this case, and from TFA:

    In this particular case, it was clear that Flagstar did not infringe on the patents in question. ... snip ...

    In addition to finding that Eon-Net filed an objectively baseless infringement action, the district court also determined that Eon-Net filed the lawsuit in bad faith and for an improper purpose... In particular, the district court found that Eon-Net's case against Flagstar had "indicia of extortion" because it was part of Eon-Net's history of filing nearly identical patent infringement complaints against a plethora of diverse defendants, where Eon-Net followed each filing with a demand for a quick settlement at a price far lower than the cost to defend the litigation.

    So, this is a completely baseless suit, with an immediate offer to settle, and with NO legal grounds for the suit in the first place.

    You may not have read the actual legal case, but seriously, RTFA and you might know why this is happening. These filings were completely meritless, and the offer to settle was intended to exploit the cost of litigation being more than the cost of settling.

    This is a case where the lawyer definitely needed to be sanctioned

  • Re:Good.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by s73v3r ( 963317 ) <> on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @01:51PM (#37035026)

    Nuke em from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

  • Re:It is very rare. (Score:4, Informative)

    by c ( 8461 ) <> on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @01:51PM (#37035028)

    Bar discipline mostly only occurs in two cases: drug and alcohol related
    problems and stealing from clients. Lying to the bar during the application
    process can also screw you. That's about it.

    I've heard that peppering legal filings with gay porn is a pretty quick way to get sanctioned.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright