In case you’re not an intellectual property practitioner, there exists a mythical creature known as a patent troll who resides in the underbelly of the world of legality. Patent trolls are evil beings whose sole purpose in life is to extort money from their victims for no legitimate purpose. These patent holders don’t use their patents to make anything themselves; instead, they assert patent infringement claims against entities that are productive, and often walk away with wads of cash in hand. They frustrate big and small companies alike, and their nefarious deeds can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees over the course of a patent’s lifetime.
Typically those in charge at companies facing a patent shakedown are quick to pass the claims off to their legal teams, but sometimes, enough is enough. Sometimes, a “less than cordial” response is required when one is faced with a patent troll’s irritating threats. Sometimes patent trolls need to be trolled.
Keep reading for an example of a great response to a patent troll….
Chris Hulls is the founder of Life360, a networking app that shows friends and family as faces on a map that can be clicked on for sending individual or group messages. Hulls recently received a letter from lawyers acting on behalf of Advanced Ground Information Systems (AGIS) over U.S. patent 7031728, which allows “a plurality of cellular phone users to monitor each others’ location and status, to initiate cellular phone calls by touching a symbol on the display screen with a stylus or finger.” (Note that this isn’t a classic patent troll situation, since AGIS has actually turned its technology into products, including a technology used by first responders and law enforcement known as LifeRing.)
Lawyers for AGIS wanted to “discuss a patent licensing arrangement” with Hulls, but he just wasn’t having it. A response like this is what happens when you’ve been patent-trolled one time too many:
Dear Piece of Shit,
We are currently in the process of retaining counsel and investigating this matter. As a result, we will not be able to meet your Friday deadline. After reviewing this matter with our counsel, we will provide a prompt response.
I will pray tonight that karma is real, and that you are its worthy recipient.
Wow. Of course, Life360 was promptly sued. Here’s what its CEO’s response looks like on legal paper:
In an interview with VentureBeat, Hulls said he’d “never done that before” — he usually settles:
“Normally we just listen to the lawyers and the whole thing has a sense of decorum. But you’re always seething on the inside, because having a nice, cordial response is like legitimizing someone holding a gun to your head.” …
“Our last patent troll we settled for $10,000. If you think about that, it’s barely more than 10 hours of lawyer time.”
Hmm, we wonder which high-priced Biglaw partners have been working on Life360’s patent litigation work.
It seems that Hulls is now on a mission to destroy the AGIS patent entirely: “We could go on the offensive and say basically, ‘F*ck you, we’re going to invalidate your patent.'” He may create an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to research all of the prior art involved.
Why not assist him? It’d be a great lesson to teach to all of the
patent trolls “pieces of sh*t” out there.
(Flip to the next page to see the lawsuit that’s been filed against Life360.)