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11.04.18

Arrivalstar (Now Shipping & Transit LLC) is Effectively Dead

Posted in Patents at 2:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An extortion operation has been reduced to a buck; poor quality or wrongly-granted US patents, however, have demonstrated their danger

TECHRIGHTS articles about Arrivalstar go a long way back. We’ve written about 10,000 articles about the USPTO and nearly 3,000 about the EPO; Arrivalstar was frequently mentioned before it was renamed (like many other trolls do, e.g. MOSAID and OpenWave). Name changes can only temporarily help dodge negative publicity. Arrivalstar’s ‘rebrand’ didn’t distract us (see recent articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4]).

A few days ago we noticed a new article from the EFF, which had already complained about Iancu's attitude and stance. So now we see HTIA doing the same thing (it was far too easy on Iancu — appeasing and welcoming an insider from the former Trump-connected law firm, which now does exactly what Techrights predicted and warned about).

HTIA wrote: “@uspto #Iancu recently gave a speech where he suggested that those who complain about #patenttrolls are spreading “scary monster stories.” . . . but Shipping & Transit was a #patenttroll, & it was very, very real.””

This is what the original author wrote: “USPTO Director Iancu says tales about patent troll are “scary monster stories.” Here’s a monster story for Halloween: a troll that sued more than 500 companies over 10 years.”

That’s the kind of patent troll that sent me death wishes/borderline threats for writing about it. There’s a pattern there. These operations know/understand nothing but intimidation and extortion.

Mark Lemley, the leading scholar in this domain, tweeted: “Shipping and Transit, the patent troll that has filed over 500 suits, says in bankruptcy filing that its patent portfolio is worth . . . $1.”

Another wrote: “Important piece by @danielnazer – Stupid Patent of the Month: How 34 Patents Worth $1 Led to Hundreds of Lawsuits”

These are all linking to what Daniel Nazer wrote about the patent troll Arrivalstar (now Shipping & Transit LLC) under the EFF’s “Stupid Patent of the Month” series:

One of the nation’s most prolific patent trolls is finally dead. After more than a decade of litigation and more than 500 patent suits, Shipping & Transit LLC (formerly known as Arrivalstar) has filed for bankruptcy. As part of its bankruptcy filing [PDF], Shipping & Transit was required to state how much its portfolio of 34 U.S. patents is worth. Its answer: $1.

We are recognizing Shipping & Transit’s entire U.S. portfolio as our latest stupid patent of the month. We agree that these patents are worthless. Indeed, they have always been worthless, except as litigation weapons. In the hands of their unscrupulous owners, they caused enormous damage, costing productive companies more than $15 million in licensing fees and untold legal expenses. That’s tens of millions of dollars that won’t be used to invest in new products, reward shareholders, or give raises to workers.

[...]

When it was known as Arrivalstar, Shipping & Transit sued a number of cities and public transit agencies claiming that transit apps infringed its patents. (While the exact legal relationship between Arrivalstar S.A. and Shipping & Transit LLC is unclear, Shipping & Transit has itself said that it was “formerly known as Arrivalstar.”) Its litigation had all the hallmarks of classic patent trolling. When transit agencies banded together to defend themselves on the merits, it quickly abandoned its claims.

Shipping & Transit’s campaign continued for years against a variety of targets. In 2016, it was the top patent litigator in the entire country, mostly targeting small businesses. One judge described its tactics as “exploitative litigation.”

Ars Technica soon covered this under the headline “Notorious patent enforcement entity values its entire portfolio at $2, folds”:

Each demand letter was structured more or less the same way: it tells of an inspiring story of inventor Martin Kelly Jones, who “observed a young girl waiting at a school bus stop on a rainy, foggy Atlanta morning.” Over the next several years, he developed a vehicle tracking system to “minimize wait times at bus stops.” Jones developed this into a service called BusCall, which had some modest success.

But due to a downturn in the economy and 9/11, Jones and his attorneys seemingly changed tactics. They began “negotiating” more than 600 patent license deals and suing more than 400 companies ranging from Radio Shack to Nissan to Nordstrom to JetBlue.

“There is no large retailer that is not a licensee,” Jones told The Wall Street Journal two years ago.

But then, in mid-2017, Shipping & Transit started losing cases.

Mr. Mullin used to cover these sorts of stories for Ars Technica, but nowadays he works for the EFF (there's overlap). Later this weekend we’ll revisit and deal with deniers of patent trolls and the above problem.

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