Patent Trolls

“Siri? How do I commit a massive breach of my professional and ethical obligations?”

As previewed in Morning Docket, a partner at Morgan Lewis & Bockius allegedly patent-trolled a firm client.

I say “allegedly” not to suggest there’s any question over whether the partner owned the trolling company, but because the partner claims he had no involvement in the decision to sue his firm’s most prominent tech client. Even if he didn’t, it hardly sounds kosher.

Whatever his precise role, he might have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for that meddling privilege log…

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Alexis Wright

* “Hindsight is always 20/20.” Perhaps AG Eric Holder should’ve quit when he was ahead after President Obama’s first term, because now White House insiders are wishing he’d step down. [New York Times]

* Dewey think Steven Davis will ever live down claims that he brought about the death of a once legendary law firm? No, but at least his $19.5 million mismanagement settlement was approved. [Am Law Daily]

* “What’s disgusting? Union busting? Who’s disgusting? Joe Genova.” Damn. This partner had some issues with Legal Services NYC lawyers on strike outside his office last week. [New York Law Journal]

* With all of the talk about patent trolls, this Morgan Lewis attorney allegedly thought it would be a good idea to get a piece of the action. Oopsie, it sounds like you got some splainin’ to do. [Ars Technica]

* LEAVE THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL OF LAW ALONE! TJSL alumni appreciate their alma mater so much they’re willing to sign love letters written by the school’s PR flack. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Widener Law is thinking of splitting its campuses into separately accredited schools, but this isn’t a cost-saving measure — neither were the buyout packages offered to professors. [Delaware Law Weekly]

* Alexis Wright, the Zumba instructor who ran a prostitution ring out of her dance studio, will ditch the workout and join the party in jail, because this hot mama was just sentenced to 10 months. [CNN]

I’ve always liked the state of Vermont — but mainly because it was a nice place to visit. But, now the state appears to be declaring war on patent trolls. A new anti-patent trolling law has been quietly enactedH.299, which targets patent trolls. Or, as it says “bad faith assertions of patent infringement.” It does this by amending the state’s consumer protection laws, to give tools to judges to recognize when patent litigation is done in bad faith (i.e., for trolling, rather than legitimate reasons)…

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Jodi Arias

* “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.” Thanks Obama, but AG Eric Holder was the one who kind of signed off on the James Rosen search warrant. [Open Channel / NBC News]

* The chief judge of the D.C. Circuit apologized for a lack of transparency in the James Rosen probe, and this is one of the least embarrassing things that happened this week. [Washington Post]

* Despite having “done nothing wrong,” embattled tax official Lois Lerner announced she’s been placed on administrative leave in light of recent events. I salute you, fellow WNE grad. [National Review]

* Watch out, patent trolls, because this proposed bill might actually be — gasp! — helpful. If enacted, the Patent Abuse Reduction Act’s goal is to help keep discovery costs down. [Hillicon Valley / The Hill]

* It’s a hell of a drug: for some lawyers, the sequester won’t be such a bad thing after all, because Coast Guard and Navy forces won’t be available to intercept 38 tons of cocaine. [Breaking Defense]

* Proskauer Rose’s ex-CFO, Elly Rosenthal, has cut down her $10 million suit against the firm to just one allegation. She claims the firm fired her solely for her diagnosis of breast cancer. [Am Law Daily]

* A third perpetrator emerged in the Berkeley bird beheading case, and he was just sentenced to two days in jail. Can you listen to BARBRI in a jail cell? I guess Hazhir Kargaran will find out. [San Francisco Chronicle]

* The Boy Scouts of America will now admit openly gay youths into their ranks for the first time in the history of ever. You should probably “be prepared” for a flurry of litigation over this. [New York Times]

* A mistrial was declared in the penalty phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial. Ugh, come on with this, the Lifetime movie is already in post-production! How on earth are they going to work this in? [CNN]

Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.

As we noted yesterday, President Obama is holding a “Fireside Hangout” via Google Plus today. In a bit of a surprise turn, he took a question about patents and patent reforms, with a specific question about software patents. And, his response was surprising. He admitted that there was a problem, and that there were some companies who were clearly not doing anything other than trying to “extort” money from others. Furthermore, while he pointed to the patent reform bill that passed in 2011, he also admitted that it really only went “halfway” towards reforming the patent system as far as it needed to go. If you click on the video, this takes place around 43:30 in the video….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “President Obama Admits That Patent Trolls Just Try To ‘Extort’ Money; Reform Needed”

* It’s 12/12/12. Or as rational people call it, “just another Wednesday already, God.” [ABC News]

* Elizabeth Warren is going to be on the Senate Banking Committee. Boom. How ya like me now. [Reuters]

* Do women make better lawyers than men? For some reason this question made me want to make a really sexist joke. But I’m afraid of being yelled at by feminists. Afraid, like a little girl. [Law Frat]

* Verizon to take on copyright trolls. I hope this leads to a commercial with that Verizon T-Mobile 4G woman playing whack-a-mole in a sun dress. [Torrent Freak]

* You know what could keep us from falling off the fiscal cliff? The death tax. Mwahahaha. [Tax Prof Blog]

* SCOTUSblog is looking to hire a good law student or LL.M. student. Qualification #1: you should probably know what SCOTUS refers to. [SCOTUSblog]

* Lindsay Lohan had her probation revoked. If you are one of the people who care about this story, thus necessitating this mention of it, I hope bad things happen to you this holiday season. I’m serious, if you care about Lindsay Lohan, I hope Santa brings you herpes. [TMZ]

Trolls!

* If you swap out a menorah and put in a dreidel, does your Hanukkah display avoid violating the Establishment Clause? I know, I know, WAR ON HANUKKAH. [Huffington Post]

* I wonder why Martha Minow (law dean, HLS) or Robert Post (law dean, YLS) doesn’t write an op-ed defending the value proposition of going to law school? Wouldn’t you like to hear this argument from somebody who isn’t desperate to fill their class seats? [Constitutional Daily]

* Isn’t the concept of the “last meal” the best thing about death row? Granted, that’s a low bar, but still. Having a last meal sounds so civilized. No wonder Texas and Florida want to take it away. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Do patent trolls have a weakness to fire, just like videogame trolls? Because, I’d like for them to get burned. [Business Insider]

* The fact that voter suppression doesn’t work doesn’t make it right. [Election Law Blog]

* Ignoring losses until they go away sounds like the basis of any sound financial strategy. [Dealbreaker]

On the day the iPhone 5 became available to the public, I wrote a post asking if the new smartphone might be a sign of the IP apocalypse. I’m not the only one, apparently.

Finally, the rumblings of discontent within the tech and legal industries haved boiled over into the mainstream. The New York Times wrote an extensive front-page story yesterday, chronicling the intellectual property arms race gripping the industry.

A lot of the subjects in the piece may be familiar to Above the Law’s readers. We’ve covered Apple’s schizophrenic attitude towards patents and the America Invents Act (and how it could affect one’s ability to patent bedroom gymnastics).

But let’s take a closer look and put it all in context…

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Before I sat down to write this column, I thought I knew what trolls were. Answer: they are the men who I dated in law school. Apparently, that is only partially true. Trolls are also a potential revenue source for small firms.

The term “patent trolls” is a controversial term with multiple meanings. According to Wikipedia, the definition includes a party that does one or more of the following:

• Purchases a patent, often from a bankrupt firm, and then sues another company by claiming that one of its products infringes on the purchased patent;
• Enforces patents against purported infringers without itself intending to manufacture the patented product or supply the patented service;
• Enforces patents but has no manufacturing or research base;
• Focuses its efforts solely on enforcing patent rights; or
• Asserts patent infringement claims against non-copiers or against a large industry that is composed of non-copiers.

The controversy can be seen by comparing the views of those considered the trolls (the non-practicing entities with patent rights) to those who are sued by the trolls (often big companies). For instance, compare this to this. The former considers the notion of a patent troll to be a myth, while the latter describes patent trolls as “reprehensible.” For those of you looking for a side gig, you may consider talking to the silk-screeners of the Team Aniston and Team Jolie t-shirts during the Brangolina saga.

Regardless of where you fall on the Team Trolls versus Team Troll-Haters debate, a recent article suggests that patent trolls can mean big money for small firms….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Size Matters: Trolls Could Save Your Business”

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