An Australian Patent Troll, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA), is a Bully Not Just in the Patent Sense, Explains the EFF
GEMSA is attacking speech, not just legitimate companies
Summary: The mischievous troll GEMSA, which doesn’t seem to get enough out of bullying real companies, is now attacking a civil rights group’s free speech rights
NOT too long ago (2015), much to our shock the EFF actually attracted a lawsuit for merely criticising a patent — something which we too had done on occasions. The lawsuit was later dropped (Scott A. Horstemeyer found out that this attracted yet more negative publicity and then fled).
Just before Easter, the EFF revealed that the same series as the above (“Stupid Patent of the Month”) attracted accusations of “slander” (as if GEMSA, which we mentioned here before, worries about its patent being ‘insulted’ or something). Here is what GEMSA did:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a lawsuit yesterday against a company that’s using foreign laws to stymie EFF’s free speech rights to publish information about and criticize its litigation over a patent featured in EFF’s “Stupid Patent of the Month” blog series.
The company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty Ltd (GEMSA), owns a patent claiming the idea of using “virtual cabinets” to graphically represent different operating systems and storage partitions. GEMSA has filed dozens of patent infringement cases in the U.S.
Since 2014, EFF’s stupid patent blog series has called attention to questionable patents that stifle innovation, harm the public, or can be employed to shake down users of commonplace processes or technologies. After EFF wrote about the patent, GEMSA accused EFF of slander. The company went to court in Australia to obtain an order to take down the article and prohibit EFF from publishing anything about any of GEMSA’s patents.
TechDirt, which has itself attracted a lawsuit (for saying the truth about a man who pretends to have invented E-mail after the real inventor passed away) and is habitually cross-posting “Stupid Patent of the Month”, had this to say, calling GEMSA an “Australian Patent Troll” right there in the headline (to trolls, patents are all they have). To quote:
As you probably know, each month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) posts its “Stupid Patent of the Month” post, highlighting particularly egregious patents that never should have been approved and/or particularly egregious patent litigation around those patents. You might know about this even if you don’t follow the EFF’s own website, because we almost always repost those posts here on Techdirt, under EFF’s Creative Commons’ license. In fact, last summer, we reposted EFF’s article about US Patent 6,690,400, held by Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (“GEMSA”), an Australian company that has all the hallmarks of a classic patent troll. You can read that post for the details of the patent in question, but suffice it to say, EFF described it as “storage cabinets on a computer” and GEMSA has sued dozens of companies, rarely explaining how they possibly infringe. For example, in suing Airbnb, all GEMSA notes is that the site’s user interface “infringes one or more of the claims of the ’400 patent.”
Not surprisingly, GEMSA was not particularly thrilled about being named the holder of a “stupid patent of the month” or to have EFF make fun of its lawsuits. Unlike, say, IBM, who upon being named a stupid patentholder of the month appeared to see the error of its ways, GEMSA decided to really double down. It went to court. In Australia. And got an order telling EFF to take down the article and barring EFF from publishing anything about any of GEMSA’s patents.
We certainly hope that more will be written about GEMSA and its terrible patents, which conjoined with its bullying against civil rights groups will guarantee its bankruptcy and dismantling. GEMSA and entities like it don’t deserve to even exist. █