EFF sues Aussie patent troll

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has sued an Australian patent troll which it previously awarded the  “Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer.”

Last year Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove the post, but the EFF told the court to sod off.

In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still did not comply.

Instead it filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, and asks that the American court declare the Australian ruling unenforceable in the US, because the Australian ruling runs afoul of free speech protections granted under the United States Constitution.

GEMSA attorneys have threatened to take this Australian court order to American search engine companies to deindex the blog post, making the post harder to find online.

The EFF’s Stupid Patent of the Month campaign began back in August of 2014.  GEMSA won the title with US Patent No. 6,690,400 (the ’400 patent), claims the idea of using “virtual cabinets” to graphically represent data storage and organisation.

GEMSA is incorporated in Australia and appears to have no business other than patent litigation. The patent began its life with a company called Flash VOS. This company once offered a product that allowed users to run multiple operating systems on personal computers with x86-compatible processors.

In the past year, GEMSA has sued dozens of companies, ranging from Airbnb to Zillow. In each case, it makes the assertion that the defendant’s website infringes the ’400 patent. For example, it simply states that “AIRBNB maintains, controls and/or operates a website with a graphical user interface (“GUI”) at www.airbnb.com that infringes one or more claims of the ‘400 patent”.

In his initial letter to EFF dated August 26, 2016, Mehr dubbed the blog post as “defamatory, false, and malicious slander”.

By October 2016, GEMSA’s director, Schumann Rafizadeh said that if the article was not immediately removed from EFF.ORG, and the defendant otherwise publishes or broadcasts the statements, GEMSA will sustain irreparable damage to its reputation and credibility.

The article’s continued publication and circulation through various common web search engines and other such websites is continuing to damage the reputation and credibility of GEMSA, which it critically relies upon for its negotiations and ongoing discussions for the licensing arrangements and our Intellectual Property (IP), including the referenced patent.

In other words ,if EFF says it is just a patent troll it might make it harder to squeeze money from other companies. Indeed, in a second affidavit, Rafizadeh admitted that its business and legal tactics were meeting some resistance for the first time. US Defendants have joined and instated two lnterparte Proceedings against GEMSA in the United States.

As EFF has made no appearance before an Australian court, GEMSA was likely able to be granted the default judgement against the organization—the removal of the purportedly offending blog post. Six months later, the EFF post remains.