Patent Trolls

Ed. note: This is the latest post by Above the Law’s guest conversationalist, Zach Abramowitz, of blogcasting platform ReplyAll. You can see some of his other conversations and musings here.

In August, Personal Audio Inc. — a “patent troll” or a “patent holding company,” depending on your point of view — dropped its case against Adam Carolla for alleged violations of its purported patent on podcasting, or more specifically, creating sequenced playlists for download. Personal Audio apparently thought it could get a settlement out of Carolla, the same way it has against CBS and other big companies, by threatening expensive litigation.

But in his typical %^&# you fashion, Carolla proceeded to join forces with other podcasters, like Jay Mohr and Marc Maron, to crowdfund a legal defense fund against Personal Audio. The resulting litigation ultimately caused Personal Audio to drop its lawsuit. Mike August is a former William & Morris agent, an attorney, and the business manager of Carolla Digital. He has been nice enough to answer some of my questions and tell us about the future of podcasting and crowdfunded lawsuits.

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* Justice Sotomayor would like to remind you that just because you’ve been to one Indian casino, that doesn’t mean all Native Americans are fantastically wealthy. [KGOU]

* Nor is every Native American cured by this news, but this is certainly a start — the Department of the Interior will sign a $554 million settlement in the breach of trust case brought by the Navajo nation. [Buckley Sandler LLP]

* A Peruvian woman has sued Disney for $250 million because she alleges that Frozen is a rip-off of her life story. Because she has magic ice powers? I guess. Actually, it looks like the only connection is that she lived in a cold place and had a sister. This reminds me of my lawsuit against Chuck Palahniuk for basing Fight Club on my life story. Not that I ran anarchic underground fight clubs, but because one-time at camp I made a bar of soap. [Bustle]

* Law professor goes after revenge porn and patent trolls because he’s trying to win the title of best person ever. [Brooklyn Paper]

* Harold Hamm, Continental Resources’ Chairman and CEO — and former energy adviser to Mitt Romney — is staring down the barrel of a massive divorce settlement. So he takes a page from Romney’s adversary. Hamm is arguing that his fortune… he didn’t build that! He was just the beneficiary of a good market rather than a contributing factor so he doesn’t have to share. [Upstream Online]

* The CAC launches a new series on the Roberts Court at 10. It’s hard to believe how long ago that was. When the Chief Justice took over we still thought the ending of Lost was going to make sense! [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Winston & Strawn lawyer turned famous LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya opened a new show in London. Sculptures made of thousands and thousands of hand-assembled bricks. Just in case you were wondering if there was a task more boring than document review. [Yahoo! Canada News]

* Paul Clement and Mike Carvin offer a SCOTUS preview. [Heritage Foundation]

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Please go f@ck yourself and die, SCOTUSblog.

Following the Supreme Court’s recent guidance in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, several software patents have been invalidated by the Federal Circuit, and district courts. In Alice Corp., the court set out a two prong validity test. First, whether the subject matter is eligible for a patent; and second, if so, whether the recitation of generic computer components adds something that is not already present when the steps are considered separately? For software patent applicants, Alice Corp. now requires that the method or system 1) improve the functioning of the computer itself, and do more than instruct one to apply the abstract idea on an unspecified generic computer; or 2) effect an improvement in another technology or field.

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* Anna Nicole Smith’s estate finally loses its effort to secure a piece of her late husband’s estate. This whole thing was like Bleak House with boobs. [Jezebel]

* Supreme Court halts same-sex marriage in Virginia. So there you go. [ABC News]

* Our old friend the Affluenza kid is back in the news, but this time he’s only a footnote to the story. His father, the one who spoiled him so badly he couldn’t help himself but kill a bunch of people, has been arrested for impersonating a cop. Maybe affluenza is contagious. [NBCDFW]

* The preliminary draft of the proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Procedure are available for public comment! So what are you still doing here? [U.S. Courts]

* Lawyer posts a bounty available to anyone who can help him collect on the multi-million dollar judgments he’s secured against a pilfering billionaire. “I’ve spent enough money getting judgments.” Enter Dog the Judgement Bounty Hunter. Go with Christ, Brah.[Forbes]

* Adam Carolla has settled with the patent troll who was suing him claiming they invented the podcast. Details weren’t disclosed, but since Carolla had previously said he wouldn’t settle for any amount of money, I wonder how they sweetened the pot. [USAToday]

* Suspended Notre Dame athletes reportedly considering a lawsuit against journalists who named them as suspects in a cheating scandal. Even though the school itself named them. If the classes they supposedly took were “Pre-Law” or “Basics of Defamation,” then I think the NCAA has a slam dunk case. [FoxSports]

* The extracurriculars that help you get into law school. Debate’s still on there even if the description — at least of the form of debate most Americans practice — sounds more like what a high school drama thinks of debate instead of reality. Less extemporaneous speaking and more “massive, in-depth research and a developing a mastery of electronic research databases.” [InGenius Prep]

* The lingering lawsuit over one of the most devastating hockey hits in recent memory has finally settled. The parties agreed to 5 minutes for fighting and a game misconduct. [ESPN]

* A murder suspect grabbed his phone and asked Siri to help him dispose of a dead body. I’ll bet Siri gave him s**tty directions on doing that, too. [USA Today] UPDATE 8/14/14 5:16 p.m.: Hey what do you know, USA Today is overselling the story a tad! Still, someone performed this search and he seemed to approve enough to have the photo.

* Criminal defeated by the same dastardly device that plagued a famous Far Side cartoon. [Lowering the Bar]

* Congratulations to Brooklyn Law School’s BLIP clinic for successfully fighting off a patent troll. How’s that for practical law school experience! [Medium]

* “As long as there is demonstrated interest and commitment by sufficiently financed local owners and a dedicated, passionate local fan base, leagues prefer not to move teams.” So says Buffalo Law professor Nellie Drew. Shhh. Don’t tell her about where the Baltimore Ravens came from, it would break her heart. [University of Buffalo]

* We get more worked up about law students charged with crimes. Like murder and arson. I mean, obviously Above the Law does because that’s part of our beat, but I mean “we” as in everybody. Why is that? [Law and More]

* Avvo just released a new iPhone app for lawyers. Among the new features is an opportunity to be alerted as soon as a question in your practice area is asked. [Avvo]

* Ha. This cartoon. [Twitter]

* After a two-year absence, we welcome VC Deal Lawyer back to blogging! [VC Deal Lawyer]

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….

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* “I Love Boobies” case may go to the Supreme Court. [Jezebel]

* Law firms are warning clients to beware of “Misclassification Creep” which is a “threat” to many businesses. Yeah, it’s a real shame that employees might start getting paid what they actually earn. [Corporate Counsel]

* Recurring ATL subject, Caskers craft spirits retailer, has been sold to Anderson Press. [Pandodaily]

* Meanwhile, another legally related business has raised a total of $850,000. Hopefully they can use some of that to make another hilarious commercial. [Techcrunch]

* Here are 10 things every new lawyer should do right now. Shorter version: start puckering up. [The Careerist]

* In horrible news, a missing Wayne State law student was found dead. [Detroit Free Press]

* A former Biglaw, current Midlaw associate has written a book and created this trailer to promote it. What if a sex toy manufacturer became a patent troll? Video embed after the jump…

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* According to Altman Weil, law firm merger mania is on pace for record highs as firms desperately attempt to stave off financial problems by gobbling up smaller firms’ clients. [Am Law Daily]

* The NCAA better watch its back: Jeffrey Kessler, the Winston & Strawn partner who helped bring free agency to the NFL, wants in on the potential case for unpaid college athletes. [Bloomberg]

* Lawyers doing regulatory work are very afraid that the shutdown will decimate their fourth quarter billables because “[t]he longer it goes, the more problematic it will be.” Yay government. [Reuters]

* GrayRobinson partner Philippe Devé is in need of a bone marrow transplant, and his firm is using its social media presence to crowdsource a donor. Will you lend a helping hand? [Daily Business Review]

* UpCounsel has successfully raised $1.5 million in funding to beef up its international patent practice, proving the point that it costs a pretty penny to protect clients from the world’s patent trolls. [TechCrunch]

* Law schools in New York State are feeling the pain of the drop in applications, and some are now willing admit that their graduates had to start “cannibalizing each other” in the job market. [New York Law Journal]

* But really, so what if applications are down? Lots of law schools consider themselves lucky to be keeping the lights on with the assistance of generous alumni donations in the millions. [National Law Journal]

* Another day, another “diploma mill.” Sorry to disappoint you, law students and alumni, but Charleston School of Law is moving forward with its plans to sell out to the InfiLaw System. [Post and Courier]

* Who’s bad? Not AEG Live. A jury made up of people unable to answer yes or no questions during the reading of the verdict found that the concert promoter wasn’t liable in Michael Jackson’s death. [CNN]

* This Term, both wings of the Court will be making originalist arguments because “slaveholders from 200 years ago said so” is the most compelling argument in our legal toolbox. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Yale Law grad Ronan Farrow, supposedly Woody Allen’s son, might really be Frank Sinatra’s son. Looking at him that… makes sense. [Vanity Fair]

* Looks like the FTC is finally going after patent trolls. Or would be if we still had a government. [Ars Technica]

* Based on the look and address, the Law Librarians blog appears to have left the Law Professor Blogs Network. It must have been too loud in there for the librarians. [Law Librarians]

* So… you’re saying lots of trial judges out there don’t understand hearsay? [The Legal Watchdog]

* Avast! Russia is going after Greenpeace (probably illegally) for piracy. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* A reminder that the federal government shut down is the result of state laws, so maybe you should vote in those off-year local elections. [PrawfsBlawg]

‘Dear Sir or Madam, you are infringing on my patent, now pay up!’

I think fundamentally the term ‘patent troll’ gets thrown at anybody who you don’t like who is a plaintiff in a patent case.

Nathan Myhrvold — former CTO of Microsoft, current CEO of Intellectual Ventures Management, and co-author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking (affiliate link), a six-volume, 2,438-page cookbook — speaking on Capitol Hill yesterday about patent reform. Myhrvold’s critics claim that Intellectual Ventures Management is one of the biggest patent trolls around.

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