Wealth of Ideas Blog

The End of the Road?

It looks like the gig may be up for Righthaven LLC, the "copyright troll" that filed 275 copyright infringement lawsuits against website owners, bloggers and even message board posters without actually owning the copyrights in question.

On Tuesday, November 1, the Federal District court in Las Vegas ordered the U.S. Marshals to seize over $63,000 in assets from Righthaven. That amount would cover not only $34,045.50 in legal fees awarded to Wayne Hoehn - the defendant in one of Righthaven's unsuccessful lawsuits - but also an additional $30,000 that the Randazza Legal Group has spent in efforts to get Righthaven to pay the $34K.

Delaware: Not Just for Incorporation Anymore

The anti-joinder provision of the America Invents Act - about which we've written in a recent blog entry and a Patent Infringement News story - is expected to have a chilling effect on litigation brought by so-called "patent trolls." That's because instead of suing several defendants at once, patent owners must file a separate lawsuit for each individual infringer. And the jurisdiction that will likely see the biggest reduction in lawsuit filings as a result of the AIA is the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Righthaven, Wrong Plaintiff

It's becoming increasingly obvious that the business model of Righthaven LLC was, in fact, very wrong - evidenced by the fact that it has been ordered to pay nearly $120,000 in attorney fees and court costs to the defendant in one of its failed copyright infringement suits.

For those who haven't been following the Righthaven saga on our blog and on our Patent Infringement News page, Righthaven established a reputation as a "copyright troll" when it sued individuals - on behalf of publications, usually local newspapers but sometimes larger papers - for posting copyrighted articles on their websites. Often the copyrighted articles were "puff pieces" or vanity articles.

e-Dirty Laundry

Attorney-client privilege can only go so far to protect you against the airing of potentially damaging communications in court. That's what Google learned this month when a judge allowed Oracle to use a Google engineer's unsent email message as evidence in their patent infringement lawsuit, which began with Oracle suing Google in August 2010 for allegedly infringing its patents on the Java programming language in the Android mobile operating system.

"You are going to be on the losing end of this document" if the e-mail ends up being revealed to a jury, Judge William Alsup told Google's attorney during a hearing in July. That same judge has now ruled that Oracle may submit the email as evidence.

What's so bad about the email? Let's take a look at it:

Having Their Cake vs. Eating It Too

On our Patent Infringement News page, we recently reported on a company called Innovatio IP Ventures, LLC which has filed several patent lawsuits against hotels and restaurants that provide free Wi-Fi for their customers. But as it turns out, Innovatio's patent enforcement campaign may fall victim to provisions in the America Invents Act (AIA).

Innovatio began its campaign by suing several restaurants in early 2011. Then, in September, it expanded its focus to include major hotel chains, including Marriott, Best Western and Hyatt, among others. Innovatio's campaign looked pretty likely to succeed because it only requested $2,000-$5,000 per infringing location - and even with several hotel or restaurant locations allegedly infringing, that payoff would be cheaper for the defendants than going to court.

The High Cost of a Bad Attitude

You can say what you want about the U.S. patent system and its laws concerning infringement, but it'll cost you - that is, if you're the CEO of a company found liable for patent infringement. (Mondis Technology Ltd v. Chimei InnoLux Corporation et al)

Tuan Hsing-chien, the CEO of computer monitor manufacturer Innolux, was recently quoted as saying that "the issue of patent infringement is being taken too seriously sometimes." He made the remark in an interview with the China Post after a jury awarded Mondis Technology $15 million in June 2011.

Having His Way

Well folks, it seems that the false patent marking statute is constitutional after all. Hollander v. Ranbaxy Laboratories Inc.

Hollander, a well-known pain in corporate behinds, sued Ranbaxy, claiming it had marked certain dermatology products with expired patent numbers. (They actually had committed this heinous crime.) Ranbaxy argued that the statute in question – that’s 35 USC §292(b) – is unconstitutional because it fails to afford the Executive Branch of the government, i.e. the President, sufficient control over litigation which clearly intends to benefit the government. As if the President was really going to get involved with this nonsense.

Anyway, after noting that the question of the statute’s constitutionality had been considered by 12 other courts, the judge opted to go with the majority, which had held, by a score of 10-2, that it is constitutional.

A Good Deal

In the ongoing trademark war between Facebook on one side and roughly the rest of the world on the other, one small combatant has achieved, if not victory, then at least an honorable peace. (Lamebook LLC v. Facebook Inc.)

Briefly recapping the history of this seemingly unequal contest (see our previous blog entries No Laughing Matter and Investigative Reporting), Facebook threatened suit against Lamebook, a self-styled parody website operator. After eight months of fruitless settlement negotiations, Lamebook turned the tables on its giant antagonist and filed suit against Facebook, seeking a judicial declaration that it was not infringing the Facebook mark.

It Ain't Over Yet

Just when we thought that the long-running daytime legal soap opera, THE BRATZ, had come to an end, along comes one Bernard Belair to, as they say in Hollywood, “rescue the franchise.” Belair v. MGA Entertainment Inc. et al.

Mr. Belair has alleged that the Bratz dolls were improperly based on a series of drawings he had created for a third party. Apparently uncertain as to which of the two toy manufacturers would ultimately prevail in their litigation marathon, he sued both of them. (Mattel is the “et al.” in MGA Entertainment Inc. et al.)