Tag: laywer

Court delivers a nasty precedent for patent trolls


TrollhunterMoviePosterPatent trolls have been as difficult to kill as cockroaches and Keith Richards, not even a 2014 US Supreme Court decision could stop them.

But federal judge Denise Cote has come up with a novel tactic which could stuff them up by hitting them in the legals. She slapped a half-million-dollar bill on the lawyers and said that they were personally responsible for paying it, not their client.

The move could make lawyers less keen to take on patent trolls as clients. Part of the patent-troll economic model is based on lawyers taking a contingency fee, meaning that they take a percentage of whatever money is extracted from victims rather than being paid an hourly fee.

Cote said that this method makes the lawyers more of a partner than a traditional contractor and they must share the risk of the case.

If lawyers start demanding upfront hourly fees patent trolls will have to give up on chasing the most tenuous lawsuits in the hope of settling.

The case at the centre of the ruling was Gust vs. Alphacap Ventures and Richard Juarez. Cote found that patent troll Alphacap had pursued a case against Gust, despite the US Supreme Court ruling that made it clear it couldn’t succeed. The idea was to force the  flakey case to settle and give the troll and the lawyer a profit.

Normally, patent trolls rely on large numbers. If they threaten many companies, they’ll make more than enough to justify their efforts. Then, by suing a handful of other companies, they scare more innocent firms into paying or else.

What the judge specifically did was to tell Gust that it could retrieve the court’s ordered money from either the law firm or the patent troll.  This was a slap in the face to the lawyers representing the patent troll who had already told the firm that suing the patent troll was pointless because it had no money, making it judgment-proof.



Watson gets a job as a lawyer

stupid-lawyer1Biggish Blue’s AI supercomputer Watson has just got a job as a bankrupcy lawyer.

Global law firm Baker & Hostetler has bought itself Ross, the first artificially intelligent attorney built by ROSS Intelligence. Ross will be employed in the law firm’s bankruptcy practice which currently employs more than 50 lawyers.

Ross can understand your questions, and respond with a hypothesis backed by references and citations. It improves on legal research by providing you with only the most highly relevant answers rather than thousands of results you would need to sift through.

It constantly monitors current litigation so that it can notify you about recent court decisions that may affect your case, and it will continue to learn from experience, gaining more knowledge and operating more quickly, the more you interact with it.

Andrew Arruda, ROSS Intelligence co-founder and CEO, other law firms have signed for licences with Ross, and more announcements are expected.

It is nice that lawyers will be the first race of sharks to be wiped out by our robotic overlords.  If we could replace politicans next that would be even better.


RIM's top lawyer walks

Troubled mobile phone outfit RIM has seen another high-profile exit, this time from its legal team.

Normally when a company starts to go under, the lawyers are left picking at the bones with last minute writs. However the top lawyer at RIM has decided that the grass is much more litigious somewhere else and has started to clean out her desk. She will stick around until they find a replacement.

Chief Legal Officer Karima Bawa, who litigated numerous patent disputes and helped write many of RIM’s commercial deals quit a week after the resignation of RIM’s head of global sales, Patrick Spence.

Word on the street is that RIM’s CEO Thorsten Heins is restructuring RIM and not everyone is happy with it.

The resignations come ahead of what are expected to be massive layoffs this year just as the company makes a last roll of the dice with its BlackBerry smartphones run by an operating system completely different from that used in its legacy phones.

RIM’s shares have fallen some 75 percent in the last year as the company has taken a caning from Google’s Android.

Bawa, joined RIM in 2000, was promoted to general counsel and chief legal officer in late 2010.

RIM historically was a little nervous when it came to matters legal. There was a long patent dispute early in the company’s rise the company took on a lot of in-house lawyers afterwards.

Now it seems that RIM has decided that it does not need a big legal team and Bawa has had her glorious empire trimmed down. 

Newspaper admits that copyright trolling was a bad idea

The new chief executive of MediaNews Group has admitted that it was a really “a dumb idea” for the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain to sign up with copyright troll Righthaven.

John Paton has taken over as the chap in charge of publishing the Denver Post and 50 other newspapers from Dean Singleton. Singleton thought it was a neat idea to hire a law firm called Righthaven to hound bloggers through the courts for mentioning his company’s news articles,

Paton told Ars Technica that particular arrangement will be over at the end of the month. He said that the issues about copyright were real. But the concept that you could hire someone on a success fee to sue people who may or may not have infringed copyright as a way of protecting yourself was daft.

Paton said that he though it was a dumb idea from the start.

The claims are Las Vegas-based Righthaven was founded more than a year ago to raise cash through copyright infringement lawsuits. It might have worked if the law had not got in the way.

So far Righthaven has not prevailed in court on any of the infringement lawsuits filed over MediaNews’ content. However, it has managed to collect cash from 24 out of court settlements which were made because people paid up thanks to the threat of court action.

Paton said if he was MediaNews’ chief a year ago, he likely never would have signed on with Righthaven.

Sara Glines, a MediaNews vice president, said those cases are likely to remain active as Judge Kane weighs whether Righthaven has standing to sue over the Denver Post copyrights.

Righthaven has not filed a new case in two months so it looks like once this current batch is processed it will be the end of this troll.