Tag: troll

Appeals court backs Apple against Texas troll

US court in deep in the heart of Texas

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided to save the fruity tax-dodging cargo cult from the clutches of a patent troll.

The court decided to throw out the verdict of a two-year old legal case against Apple based on data storage patents.

The original verdict reached by a Texas jury stuck Apple with $533 million in damages.  It had been hoping for a hanging but settled for the next best thing.

Smartflash mostly targeted game developers who largely all settled out of court in 2014, but Apple defended its use of data storage management and payment processing technology in court.

The trial judge vacated the large damages award a few months after a Texas federal jury imposed it in February 2015, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said on Wednesday the judge should have ruled Smartflash’s patents invalid and set aside the verdict entirely.

A unanimous three-judge appeals panel said Smartflash’s patents were too “abstract” and did not go far enough in describing an actual invention to warrant protection.

It is unlikely that Smartflash will rise again to hit other companies.


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.



Apple loses to Patent “Troll”

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollFruity tax-dodger Apple has lost a patent law suit to MobileMedia Ideas and not in an East Texas Court for once.

Apple apparently infringed MobileMedia’s patent RE39,231, which relates to ring-silencing features on mobile phones and the court ruled that Jobs’ Mob will have to write a cheque for $3 million.

The Tame Apple press has waded into MobileMedia on two fronts for daring to take Apple to court. Firstly, it called it patent troll when it really isn’t.  It is a patent pool majority-owned by MPEG-LA, a that licenses common digital video technologies like H-264, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4.

Secondly, the Tame Apple Press claimed that it was a “proxy war” being waged by Sony and Nokia, which both contributed the patents owned by the company.

The case took years and was initially for three patents, and the ring-silencing was the last one remaining. It is likely that Apple will not take this lying down either and will appeal to the Federal Circuit.

Apple’s defence was that when Sony had direct control of the patent it failed to mention it to Apple, however when it moved the patents to the pool suddenly it was sued. We know, it is hardly a defence – it just means that after farming out its patents to MobileMedia their enforcement became more efficient.

Nvidia’s patent trolling flops

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollA move by Nvidia to find a replacement for a lucrative patenting deal it has with Intel by patent trolling two other big names has backfired.

Since January 2011 Nvidia had a cushy deal with Intel where Chipzilla would pay it $1.5 billion.  It was great while it lasted but Intel has almost paid up and Nvidia thought it could get a similar licensing deal from Samsung and Qualcomm.

It unleashed its mighty briefs in September 2014 claiming that Samsung and Qualcomm had breached United States Patent Nos. 6,198,488, 6,992,667, 7,038,685, 7,015,913, 6,697,063, 7,209,140 and 6,690,372.

These patents were allegedly used in now ancient Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, 400, 600 or 800 series of processors, and devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3 (LTE), Galaxy S4, and Galaxy S III and the Samsung Note Pro LTE, Galaxy Tab 4, and Galaxy Tab 3 tablet.  It should have had Nvidia on a nice little earner.

Then something odd happened. Nvidia only mentioned Samsung in the lawsuit and stopped talking about Qualcomm. In September 2015 judge ruled that Samsung and Qualcomm actually didn’t infringe two of the patents.

It seems then that Nvidia went back to the negotiating table. It appears to have got a few minor agreements from Samsung and Qualcomm, but nothing like the sort of money it got from Intel.

The deal was so minor that Nvidia doesn’t want to talk about it. All the company is saying at this time the agreement covers the licensing of a small number of patents by each company to another.




Copyright troll wants to hack your browser

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollCopyright troll Rightscorp wants to hijack the browsers of those it wants to extort money from to force them to pay up rather than go through all that inconvenience of going to court.

Rightscorp tracks the IP addresses of individuals who torrent certain titles. It then sends threatening letters to those users via their ISPs, threatening a giant lawsuit, and then offering a low settlement. But now that the company’s financials are down the loo it has a new cunning plan. It wants to lock users’ browsers until they pay a settlement fine.

The idea was spotted in a filing earlier this week:

“In the Scalable Copyright system, subscribers receive each [settlement] notice directly in their browser. Single notices can be read and bypassed similar to the way a software license agreement works [but] once the internet account receives a certain number of notices over a certain time period, the screen cannot be bypassed until the settlement payment is received.”

The hijacking would have to be done by ISPs, and would be technologically reasonably simple to implement—just redirect every webpage to Rightscorp’s notice instead, although it would be pretty simple to bypass using a VPN instead.

Of course it is going to hack off a lot of ISP customers. These are the people who give the ISP money, while Rightscorp doesn’t.  ISPs in that sort of situation are more likely to go to court to defend their customers from copyright shakedowns.  It does not seem likely that they are going to voluntarily back a hugely invasive and unpopular method of getting the movie theatres more dosh.


Daft patent awarded for “form letters”

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollMore than 100 companies have been sued because the US Patent Office was daft enough to issue a patent for form letters.

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s patent lawyers found a patent describing a way of “presenting personalized content relating to offered products and services”. The patent is owned by Phoenix Licensing which is a patent troll controlled by Richard Libman, an Arizona man who has sued more that 100 companies.

US Patent No. 8,738,435 is little more than a description of sending a “communication” with “identifying content” to a “plurality of persons”. The patent describes any type of personalised marketing, as long as it involves a “computer-accessible storage medium”.

Apparently earlier mass-mailing systems “produced output that was either non-customised or just customized to address a given person” and could not select products and “characteristics appropriate for a given person,” Libman’s lawyers wrote.

EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer explains in his bog that patents which are just “do it on a computer” claims should get tossed out as “almost surely invalid” under the Alice v. CLS Bank Supreme Court precedent.   Libman has filed patents in the Eastern District of Texas where they think Alice probably voted for Obama and is almost certainly a socialist.

Of course the idea of patent trolls is that they never get to court, let alone any appeal and that the company will pay up rather than waste money on an expensive trial.

Troll regrets accidentally suing New Egg

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollA patent troll that accidently sued New Egg is suddenly finding itself in more trouble than it wished for.

Minero Digital normally spends its days exacting royalty payments from USB hubs, suing more than two dozen retailers and manufacturers last year.  But it bit off more than it could chew when it threatened Newegg subsidiary Rosewill.  It dropped the case with the hope of getting on with its normal business suing those who would not fight back.

However it’s not going to be easy for Minero and its president, Texas lawyer Daniel Perez, to walk away. Newegg filed its own lawsuit against Minero in Los Angeles federal court, asking a judge to rule that Rosewill products do not infringe Minero’s patent.

Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng says the move is necessary since Minero dismissed its Texas lawsuit without prejudice, meaning it can refile the case whenever it likes.

Cheng said that “Minero’s case did not have merit. Its patent is not only expired but would suck even if it wasn’t expired. Now that they have started the litigation, it would be irresponsible for Newegg to not finish it.”

Minero litigates against other retailers that sell Rosewill-branded products and that Newegg may have defence obligations to those other companies, he said.

Newegg’s lawsuit asks only for a judicial ruling of non-infringement, not money damages. Still, having to face a separate litigation in Newegg’s home district could be a time-consuming distraction for the patent-licensing entity, which only has a single Texas laywer.

Minero Digital filed its wide-ranging lawsuit in September of last year, citing US Patent No. 5,675,811. The patent was acquired by Intellectual Ventures in 2003 and passed on to Minero in April 2015. It describes a system of “intelligent daisy-chainable serial” bus connections, originating at Apple spinoff General Magic.

Rosewill was created in 2004 as a private-label brand wholly owned by Newegg. The company specializes in computer peripherals like power supplies, cases, memory, and cables.

Russian troll sues Tsar Putin front company

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollA former Russian internet troll is suing her ex-employer Tsar Putin in a case which is showing the country’s “information war” in all its ugly glory.

Lyudmila Savchuk’s case is centred on her employer’s failure to provide any labour contract or other paperwork supporting her hiring and eventual dismissal.

Savchuk was fired after speaking to the media about her employer, Internet Research, which she described as part of Russia’s “troll factory” which keeps Tsar Putin’s power base.

Internet Research changed its name to the Internet Research Agency, which in the spring merged with a firm called New Technologies, whose official registration documents identify it as a construction company.

“The ‘troll factory’ operates based on very weird schemes, but all those firms are connected to each other, even though they are separate legal entities,” Savchuk was quoted as saying.

Since she was fired, Savchuk has been organising a public movement against online trolling called Informatsionny Mir – a name that can be translated both as “Information World” and “Information Peace.”

The aim of the case is to force the Troll Factory to hand over its paperwork.

Savchuk said she was hired in December after responding to a job advert. She said she had been asked to work 12-hour shifts posting pro-Putin political comments on various websites for a monthly salary of $778, which was paid in cash until her dismissal in March.

US court roughs up copyright troll

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollCopyright troll Prenda had a rough day in an appeals hearing.

Copyright troll Prenda asked the 9th circuit Appeals court for a  hearing about sanctions, and it probably wished it hadn’t.

Daniel Voelker, representing Prenda, got a good kicking from three judges on the panel, while Morgan Pietz representing the so called copyright pirates, had a friendlier reception.

Prenda’s argument,  was that the entirety of a hearing where it was judged a “porno-trolling collective “ and the sanctions awarded at the end of it, were improper.

The three judges – 91yo Senior Judge Harry Pregerson, 62yo Judge Richard Tallman, and 49yo Jacqueline Nguyen  asked probing questions, and even making fun of Prenda.

When Voelker’s could not answer, Pregerson snorted something like “You know nothing John Snow” and said that Prenda needed to assert the 5th amendment because they were engaged in extortion, buy sending out thousands of extortion letters“.

Judge Pregerson’s  closing remark on it left no doubt what he was thinking, saying “That is just an ingenious, crooked, extortionate operation”.

Ngoyen, who is Obama’s next choice for a Supreme Court justice, told ) told oelker that he was “swimming upstream” while Tallman told him to stop ‘bobbing and weaving’ when asked questions.  He asked if certain documents (specifically the forged copyright assignment) were ‘left by the tooth fairy’.

For some reason Voelker did not mind that the court remanded the case back to Judge Wright, as a criminal matter under a special prosecutor, which could result in Prenda executives behind bars.

Boffins develop automatic troll slaying

Wikia_HP_-_Mountain_TrollResearchers at Cornell University have come up with a way to identify internet trolls  80 per cent of the time.

The software could create the possibility of creating automated methods to spot and auto-ban forum and comment-thread trolls.

Justin Cheng, Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil and Jure Leskovec submitted the paper Antisocial Behaviour in Online Discussion Communities [PDF], which details the findings from an 18-month study of banned commenters over three high-traffic communities: news giant cnn.com, political hub breitbart.com and the vocal gaming communities at ign.com.

The study, which was partly-funded by Google and had the cooperation of the Disqus commenting ecosphere, compared anti-social users (‘Future Banned Users’ or FBUs) ‘destined to be permanently banned after joining the community with those joiners who are not permanently banned (Never Banned Users or NBUs) in the study-period.

Most of the study’s findings fell into the blinding obvious category. for example over the 10,000 FBUs studied, nearly all began their commenting life at a lower perceived standard of literacy and  clarity than the median for their host groups, with even that standard dropping in the final stretch towards a moderator ban.

Pre-ban troll posts tend to home in on a smaller number of comment threads relative to the number of posts – the classic characteristic of digging in for a sustained flaming match either with the host community or one or more members of it who have decided to engage the troll.

On CNN, trolls were more likely to initiate new posts or sub-threads, whilst at Breitbart and IGN they were more likely to weigh into existing threads.

However what was interesting was that immediately intolerant communities are more likely to breed trolls:

Users who are excessively censored early in their lives are more likely to exhibit antisocial behaviour later on.While communities appear initially forgiving they become less tolerant of such users the longer they remain in a community. This results in an increased rate at which their posts are deleted, even after controlling for post quality.”

A troll is a semi-literate, provocative and fairly persistent poster, whose descent into totally anti-social behaviour is summoned at inverse speed to that with which the host community rejects them, and whose final posts before a permanent ban are characterised by persistent and heated battle on a small number of topics.

The researchers thing it is a little hard to spot a troll since it system misclassified them one in every five times. #

“While we present effective mechanisms for identifying and potentially weeding antisocial users out of a community, taking extreme action against small infractions can ex- acerbate antisocial behaviour (e.g., unfairness can cause users to write worse), “ the paper said.