Patent trolls are finding life difficult in the US courts all of a sudden and might find themselves becoming an endangered species.
A few years ago, trolls were coming out from underneath their bridges armed with lawyers can demanding big licencing fees from companies who paid up rather than going to court.
All that came to an end when a couple of high profile tech companies decided that this was silly and started fighting back.
According to Ars Technica, FindTheBest counter sued a patent troll called Lumen View last year. Company CEO Kevin O’Connor made it personal, and pledged $1 million of his own money to fight the legal battle.
FindTheBest pursued the case and was kicked to death by the courts. The judge invalidated Lumen’s patent saying it was just computer-oriented “matchmaking.”
Now the judge overseeing the case has ruled that it’s Lumen View, not FindTheBest, that should have to pay the $200,000 in expenses. In a first-of-its-kind implementation of new fee-shifting rules mandated by the Supreme Court, US District Judge Denise Cote found that the Lumen View lawsuit was a “prototypical exceptional case.”
Judge Cote said that Lumen’s motivation in this litigation was to extract a nuisance settlement from FTB on the theory that FTB would rather pay an unjustified license fee than bear the costs of the threatened expensive litigation.
Lumen made threats of ‘full-scale litigation,’ ‘protracted discovery,’ and a settlement demand escalator should FTB file papers, were aimed at convincing FTB that a pay-off was the lesser injustice.
Recently the Supreme Court changed the test for fee-shifting precisely to deter behaviour such as Lumen’s, Cote found.
She said that Lumen didn’t do “any reasonable pre-suit investigation,” and filed a number of near-identical “boilerplate” complaints in a short time frame.
Lumen also attempted to get a “gag order” against FTB, to stop it from talking to the press about its case. It is not clear how much Lumen will have to pay.
It is good news for FindTheBest which recently lost an RICO anti-extortion lawsuit against Lumen View. In that case, also overseen by Cote, the judgewasn’t convinced that RICO could be used to fight bogus lawsuits, even ones as baseless as Lumen’s.