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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Patent Trolls Seeking Wi-fi License Fees? 347

An anonymous reader writes "My company has been contacted by certified letter by Delaware law firm. They are seeking license fees for a Wi-fi patent. I believe this is a patent troll (not that this matters in relation to dealing with this issue). This is a newly formed law firm less than 4 months old. This patent is U.S. Patent No. 5,506,866. This patent covers equipment and method related to the transmission of information involving the multiplexing information into a stream of signal points (and demultiplexing the same), and related technology. They have 'offered' to license this patent with no amounts specified. Unfortunately we are a small free software company. The company is setup as a sole proprietorship. I'm not asking for legal advise from the Slashdot community. The question is where might one look for 'legal counsel' with the expertise to answer these types of legal questions as it relates to this inquiry. I would prefer to avoid legal fees, court cases, or license fees running the company into the ground. The company is registered in New Jersey."
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Patent Trolls Seeking Wi-fi License Fees?

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  • Curious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 03, 2013 @02:28PM (#42779005)

    What are the repercussions or ramifications of you writing back,

    "Fuck you, we're not going to play this game."

    Serious question.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 03, 2013 @02:39PM (#42779129)

    Sometimes I wonder if patent trolls are created by companies producing related software or products to try and kill off all competition.

    Everyone and their grandma knows the one of the worst trolls, Intellectual Ventures, was started by "ex" Microsoft EmployeeS, note the S. No surprise there.
    Wouldn't be surprised if they were the guys behind most of Microsofts direct attacks on everyone else even remotely a threat to Microsoft.

    I would like to see if any of those patent trolls have any relation to any large companies, it would be quite interesting.

  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @02:54PM (#42779235) Journal

    I don't think you should be discussing a legal threat in a public forum.

    Why, at least as long as he doesn't say "i'm guilty as hell, what can I do to get away with it?"

    Personally, I'm interested in knowing if his company actually has anything to do with WiFi, though the answer to that might be dangerously close to "I'm guilty as hell, what can I do to get away with it?" Just reading the submission makes it sound like he got hit by one of those little shits that was going around sending threatening letters to companies about sharing scanned documents [], whether they did or not.

  • by SplatMan_DK ( 1035528 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @03:08PM (#42779359) Homepage Journal

    You should always answer a lawyer who sends you a letter. Even a troll. Just make sure your answer is either useless to them or can be used to stall the case.

    For example you could send a letter explaining that you don't believe your company infringes on said patent amd ask for clarification on why they believe otherwise.

    When you get an answer to that, your next letter should be a series of questions asking how they know stuff about your company. Ask them where they got their information from, and ask them to provide a full report on all data collected about you or the company. They may very well be legally obligated to respond to inquiries about collected data.

    Finally, ask them for instructions on how they believe you can stop infringing the patent. Explain you have no desire to infringe on it, that you believe you are indeed not, but that you would be happe to evaluate any suggestions they might have regarding ways to ensure the alleged infringement.

    Each time wait 7-9 days before responding.

    If they get difficult ask for a personal meeting at your office and make sure to explain how busy you are when you apoligize for being unavailable until ... approx 9-17 days later.

    By the time you are done with this the patent expiation date will be closer and they will have wasted a ton of time. Also should the case ever get to trial you can show that you have honestly tried to cooperate in any way possible (short on paying for the infringement you don't believe is taking place).

    It is almost as much fun as fooling nigerian scammers.

    Put them to work. It isn't really that hard. :-)

    - Jesper

  • Re:Contact EFF (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @03:11PM (#42779391)

    If the patent runs out this year, sounds like stalling tactics are exactly the right way to go. Perhaps a pro-bono letter from a lawyer saying "we're examining the validity of your claim and we'll get back to you on that".

    Except for the minor problem that you can sue for patent infringement even after the patent expires, since the 'statute of limitation' for infringement damages goes back 6 years.

    You'd be amazed at the sort of advice that you can obtain from lawyers who have actually studied the law, as opposed to joe-yank-an-answer-out-of-his-hindquarters.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 03, 2013 @03:46PM (#42779647)

    While it might not directly apply to you, this might still be worth to consider.

    Trolls want to make money, you might want to make sure that they know that they won't get money from you (you rather spend it fighting them) and that you will not make it easy for them...

  • Re:Links? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by solidraven ( 1633185 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @04:14PM (#42779815)
    What's even more interesting is that IEEE doesn't list it as a WiFi related patent: []
    And considering IEEE doesn't tend to mess around about these sort of things. Actually you might want to contact them on this one. If it works once it could work on bigger players as well, so there is a chance they'd actually take a look at the patent and see if it's worth anything. While I doubt it'll help, it probably wouldn't hurt to try.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 03, 2013 @05:52PM (#42780385)

    I AM a lawyer, and this is the worst possible advice I could possibly imagine. Do NOT attempt to play lawyer. You don't know what you're doing. You don't know anything about patent law or litigation.

  • Read this paper (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @06:07PM (#42780495)
    Read this paper: Startups and Patent Trolls [] by Prof. Colleen V. Chien, Santa Clara University School of Law.
  • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @06:19PM (#42780611)

    I don't think you should be discussing a legal threat in a public forum.

    Agreed. It is possibly dangerous.

    From this article: Patent trolls want $1,000—for using scanner [].

    Another tactic that clearly has an effect: speaking out, even when done anonymously. It hardly seems a coincidence that the Project Paperless patents were handed off to a web of generic-sounding LLCs, with demand letters signed only by “The Licensing Team,” shortly after the “Stop Project Paperless” website went up. It suggests those behind such low-level licensing campaigns aren’t proud of their behavior. And rightly so.

  • Re:See an IP laywer. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sabriel ( 134364 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @06:52PM (#42780863)

    You know the courts are failing in their duty when these sorts of comments get Insightful mods.

    You'll know they've failed when the mod becomes +5, Informative.

  • Re:See an IP laywer. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Just Brew It! ( 636086 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @11:20PM (#42782401)
    Nit pick: He signed for the certified letter, so they already know he exists. They don't know if he's taking them seriously (yet).

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser