In January 2015, we blogged about Washington State’s effort through the proposed Patent Troll Prevention Act to protect the rights of legitimate patent holders by cracking down on deceptive and predatory claims of patent infringement. (It was then signed into law that April.) Now, we highlight a buzzed-about case in which a biz took on a patent troll … and won.
Per Ars Technica, in 2013, Lumen View Technology sued several small businesses, including a Santa Barbara-based startup called Graphiq, and demanded “quick $50,000 payoffs” for online “matchmaking” patent infringement. Graphiq CEO Kevin O’Connor said no and how: He took on the patent troll and, $350,000 later, won the legal battle and, ultimately, $100,000 in attorneys’ fees.
Of his spend, O’Connor said to Ars, “[I]t was worth every cent. It definitely wasn’t the best investment, but goddamn, I feel good. I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for those bastards.”
Neither did U.S. District Judge Denise Cote who “obliterated Lumen’s patent on ‘multilateral decision-making.’”
Graphiq then went on the offensive by filing a RICO lawsuit against Lumen, classifying the trolling as tantamount to extortion. This effort failed, however.
But Ars points out that O’Connor and Graphiq’s win in the patent-troll fight is significant for a few reasons:
- The final results are public.
- It arms pro-patent-reform activists with an example of why legislative change is necessary.
- It demonstrates a lack of transparency in the “murky world of patents.”
This last point refers to the fact that Lumen’s owners are a mystery. As much as O’Connor would like to expose them, he’s busy!
“I would have loved to penetrate the corporate shell, and take huge amounts of money, and win triple fees on the RICO case. I would love to have exposed them, but I’ve got lots of other stuff to do in life.”
One has to wonder if following the infringement case loss if it’s patent-troll business as usual for Lumen, whoever they are.