Summary: A glimpse at the patent-trolling ‘business’ and some new examples from the news
On Friday night I received the following E-mail with several large attachments. It was from a sleazy kind of lawyer, who naturally floats where business means the opposite of ethics, it means crushing real businesses. Here is the mail — sent by proxy for this troll (whose business is litigation) — in full:
Hello Dr. Schestowitz,
My name is Chris Gum. I work for Beche Group IP Services, an expert witness referral firm. Attached is the Beche Group IP Services brochure to provide you with additional information about our company.
I have an urgent need for an Expert Witness for Parallel Iron LLC v. Adobe Systems Incorporated DED-1-12-cv-00874. My client is the Plaintiff Team for Parallel Iron, LLC.
I need an expert witness that has both the necessary technical knowledge and experience to testify at trial. An expert with expertise in distributed file systems, such as Hadoop and familiar with the Markman Hearing. It appears as if that is within your expertise, correct? Is this something that you might be interested in pursuing? Do you have testifying experience?
Since this is such an urgent need I am attaching the complaint and 3 patents involved with this email. I usually wait until I hear back from you and we have had a conversation but time is of the essence. Let me know your findings after you have reviewed the attachments. We can discuss timing, conflicts, parties and the specific patents when we talk.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions as I am always happy to help.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Beche Group IP Services
San Francisco/Silicon Valley CA
They are probably mass-mailing these. They should know I don’t specialise in distributed file systems. They would know if they actually checked.
Suffice to say, I never opened the attachments; I never replied either. I just wanted to show victims of such trolls (or potential pret) what the predators are up to behind the scenes. Secretive parasites. Schoenbaum from Rackspace has a recent enough post about this troll. He wrote:
One thing the article did not discuss was why IPNav’s and Parallel Iron’s patent assertions are so egregious. We have talked many times about patents that should never have been granted. An equal abuse is the overbroad application of patents to technology that was never invented or even contemplated by the original patentees.
The Parallel Iron patents are a good example of this overreach. This next part is somewhat technical, but hang with me and keep reading. Parallel Iron’s patents are about hardware, and are tightly coupled to the underlying design of a storage area network. For example, Figure 5 of US Patent 7,197,662 (click image to enlarge) shows a memory section controller, including specific memory control interface and timing circuitry.
A Web site that I sort of grew up with, HowStuffWorks, is now under attack by trolls like the above. To quote the EFF:
Beloved podcasts like the Adam Carolla Show and HowStuffWorks are under attack. They and other podcasts are getting sued for, well, podcasting. And they’re not the only victims—developers are being targeted for building mobile apps, and offices around the nation are being attacked for using ordinary networked scanners. These creators are only a few of the thousands of victims of one of the biggest threats to innovation: patent trolls.
Here is another new example of such trolls.
Trolls Aren’t Welcome in Lake Wobegon
Earlier this week, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office announced a landmark settlement with patent troll MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC. MPHJ is infamous for suing small businesses for using basic office equipment to scan and email documents. MPHJ sent letters demanding $1,000 – $1,200 per employee for this simple task. According to the settlement terms, MPHJ cannot send further demand letters without seeking approval from the state attorney general office. In addition, if any Minnesota residents or businesses have been found to have paid MPHJ, then MPHJ will have to fully refund all payments and pay a $50,000 civil penalty.
These firms that do nothing but sue are killing the producing economy. We need to expose them and crush them. Taking aim at their patents would work if we tackled scope. Almost every patent troll uses software patents. And this related to our next post. █