Almost a year and a half ago, Green Comet had a post on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) series called Stupid Patent of the Month, where they call out the bad practises of patent trolls and other miscreants. The stupid patent in our post had Microsoft suing Corel.
A little less than a year ago, the EFF featured another stupid patent held by the Australian patent troll, Global Equity Management (SA,) or GEMSA. This company’s only apparent activity seems to be suing people over patents. It seems GEMSA didn’t like that and is now suing the EFF for defamation. Even though the EFF is based in the United States, where freedom of expression laws protect it, GEMSA wants Australia’s more repressive laws to apply. They are accustomed to abusing people with stupid patents, and now they think they can use national laws to invoke an international chill on freedom.
The EFF is not so easily cowed, and they have a few lawyers of their own. After GEMSA demanded that they take down the article, and every other reference to it on the internet, they launched a countersuit in California seeking a ruling that the Australian injunction should not apply in the US. They should be successful because the US already has a law that makes foreign laws invalid in the US unless they respect freedom of expression.
In its complaints, GEMSA said that the EFF’s article made it harder for them to bring their patent suits in the US. Well, good. Now it seems their injunction has raised the profile of patent trolls, which are coming under closer scrutiny. Also good.
The ruling has come down in this case and, as I predicted, it is in favor of the plaintiff, the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They have every right, in the US anyway, to call GEMSA’s patent stupid.
Kurt Opsahl, EFF’s deputy executive director and general counsel, hailed the ruling as a victory for free speech.
“We knew all along the speech was protected by the First Amendment,” Opsahl said in a phone interview Friday. “We were pleased to see the court agree.”