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Cloudflare Declares War On a Patent Troll With a $50,000 Bounty (fortune.com) 54

Internet security company Cloudflare has declared war on a company called Blackbird that consists of a group of lawyers who file patent lawsuits against tech and retail firms. In a blog post titled "Standing Up to a Dangerous New Breed of Patent Troll," Cloudflare called Blackbird's business model destruction and unethical, and announced a $50,000 bounty to anyone who would help invalidate Blackbird's patents. Fortune reports: "There's no social value here. There's no support for a maligned inventor. There's no competing business or product. There's no validation of an incentive structure that supports innovation. This is a shakedown where a patent troll, Blackbird Tech, creates as much nuisance as it can so its attorney-principals can try to grab some cash. Cloudflare does not intend to play along," said the blog post. While patent trolling has been around for years -- and is a particular bug bear of the tech industry -- Cloudflare says Blackbird's model of trolling involves a new and unethical twist. Specifically, the company says Blackbird's lawyer-executives are violating their professional obligations by buying the claims of potential clients and engaging in questionable fee-splitting arrangements. Here is how Cloudflare, which says it is filing complaints with the state bars of Massachusetts and Illinois, explains it: "Blackbird's 'new model' seems to be only that its operations set out to distort the traditional Attorney-Client relationship. Blackbird's website makes a direct pitch of its legal services to recruit clients with potential claims and then, instead of taking them on as a client, purchases their claims and provides additional consideration that likely gives the client an ongoing interest in the resulting litigation. In doing so, Blackbird is flouting its ethical obligations meant to protect clients and distorting the judicial process by obfuscating and limiting potential counterclaims against the real party in interest."
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Cloudflare Declares War On a Patent Troll With a $50,000 Bounty

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  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday May 11, 2017 @06:09PM (#54402507)

    Just provide us with the names and addresses of the Patent Troll Lawyers . . . the Intertubers will crowdsource the contract.

    Please donate the bounty money to the EFF.

    • careful with that, it could be construed as inciting violence. (which they richly deserve.)

      • Declaring a bounty against a particular group is effectively putting out a hit on someone.

        We are already there at the violence part. It's just not transpired yet.

        • The bounty was for invalidating the patent, not the patent's owner; but sooner or later some defendant is going to be driven to such desperation that such thoughts will be entertained. These patent trolls frequently steam-roller several entities unable to defend themselves to build precedence before going after someone with real money. The results is often a life's work destroyed.
          Janis Jopilin wrote "Freedom is just another word for nuthin' left to lose"; these trolls will eventually set the wrong man free,

    • by Dynamoo ( 527749 )
      I looked at it and though the same thing. Remind me, how did Prenda Law end up for it's principals?
  • Cloudflare vs. Blackbird on PPV. Live from MA and IL
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They should also offer an addition $100 reward, to whoever LAWFULLY causes the most amount of financial harm to Blackbird's equity holders. Repeated stress that the harm must happen legally, and that if any laws are broken, you get nothing.

    (Would that work? Hey, lawyers...)

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      should also offer an addition $100 reward, to whoever LAWFULLY causes the most amount of financial harm to Blackbird's equity holders.

      IF someone posted such a reward, And someone followed through and claimed the bounty, the harmed company can actually sue the bounty poster for tortuous interference with their business relationships.

      It doesn't matter if the way they were harmed was a 100% LEGAL act. If you Induce some other person or entity to act for the specific express purpose of causing harm to

      • Except "lawfully causing harm" means "making the company respect the law". You can't sue someone for the "harm caused by justice against you".
  • $50K? Pff! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday May 11, 2017 @06:42PM (#54402609)

    Cloudflare is a multi-million dollar company and they are only willing to pay $50K for someone to make all their problems go away? Pff! Come back when you are serious.

    • They are even cheaper than you think. But at least they are giving more money if you solve another persons problem.

      From the article:

      Under the terms of the bounty program, Cloudflare will award a total of $20,000 to those who can provide so-called "prior art" to show the patent Blackbird is using to sue Cloudflare—which dates from 1998 and is titled "Providing an internet third party data channel"—is invalid. Prior art can be anything from a journal article to a web page to a slideshow, and can

      • Well, it depends on how they reward the bounty. If they set the $20k as the TOTAL amount of the reward, then they are very cheap because they will divide the money to each evidence they get. For example, if they accept 10,000 submissions as relevant, then the average reward for each submission is $2 (could be much lower or higher depends on how they value the submission). And I believe they do that... CHEAP!

        Cloudflare’s experts and attorneys will review each submission for its value in invalidating each patent. Again, the money will be awarded based on relevance and usefulness.

  • Pffft. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday May 11, 2017 @06:49PM (#54402629)

    $50k is peanuts. Nice PR, but really not enough to scare a bunch of lawyers.

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Thursday May 11, 2017 @07:18PM (#54402711) Homepage Journal
    That is what I earn per year doing government IT in Silicon Valley!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The article states the patent troll offers nothing to the inventor or to innovation. I disagree.

    When I went to present my POC to a tech giant, I did not fear of my invention being stolen. I was covered by the "patent troll insurance".
    Sure, I had filed a provisional patent, but what good is a patent when you face a tech giant legal department with its deep pockets?

    Suppose patent trolling was banned and only companies making products were allowed to take legal action. Would another company be making my produ

    • You actually are protecting the patent troll tactics, but I digress. If you can't MAKE a product, then you have no RIGHT to the patent. See what I did there. Otherwise, I'm patenting time travel, sub-quantum computers, and 1 nanometer ASICs. My ideas, my inventions. Now, I have no fucking clue how or the means to build 'em, but that part of the concept is mine. If it's actually worth something, keep it hush hush, get a company to buy it from you under contract, and profit. If nobody wants to buy it from you
    • In other words without the patent troll, inventions by small inventors and even medium sized companies become worthless.

      Then I think they would not be called patent trolls, but instead just an ethical attorney. I think the two are very different.

    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

      In other words without the patent troll, inventions by small inventors and even medium sized companies become worthless.

      To be clear, I'm not protecting the patent troll tactics or way of conduct.

      If by protecting you mean defending, it really looks like you are. With weird logic.

  • Big companies have always used patents for revenue and I do not think all their moves have been ethical. Now that small time patent inventors have a way to make money out of their patents, why not?
  • Our technology is innovative and different, and Cloudflare’s technology has about 150 patents issued or in process

    love the smell of irony in the morning

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