All posts tagged patents

Electronic Frontier Foundation – CC-BY

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.

Here’s the story at ars technica and the Courthouse News Service. Here’s Motherboard’s list of the eleven stupidest patents of 2016.

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.”

You can find the Courthouse News article here.


Further to my last post about the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Stupid Patent of the Month, here’s an analysis of the ongoing pain being caused by so-called patent trolls, more politely called non-practicing entities (NPEs.) That’s a term to describe entities that hold patents but don’t use them for anything, except sometimes to sue people who are producing things.

Not all NPEs are patent trolls, though. That would be too simple. Some of them are universities that do research but don’t directly try to employ their discoveries. So, they hold patents but don’t use them, the very definition of NPE. All this makes it difficult to fashion solutions to the patent troll problem. Nearly everyone agrees that the trolls are a problem. Other than from the trolls and their lawyers, you don’t see much justification for their parasitical behavior. But lawmakers have to be careful that they don’t damage innocent bystanders along with the trolls.

From the Christian Science Monitor article:

Tech companies faced a growing wave of patent suits in 2015 from so-called non-practicing entities, which hold patents but do not create products based on them.

Universities … (say) … the proposals go too far by potentially categorizing them as patent trolls.

… contrary to the perception of NPEs as mostly patent trolls, some inventors have also repeatedly filed claims, particularly for software and hardware.

Once again we have to find that fine line between rewarding innovation and creativity, and letting it turn into a farce that punishes those who do and rewards those who sue.

Source: Despite crackdown from courts, patent suits still battered tech companies in 2015 –


Electronic Frontier Foundation graphic created by EFF Senior Designer Hugh D'Andrade to illustrate EFF's work against patent trolls - CC-BY

Electronic Frontier Foundation graphic created by EFF Senior Designer Hugh D’Andrade to illustrate EFF’s work against patent trolls – CC-BY

Patent trolls are parasites. They contribute nothing, only hoping to skim the wealth of others. Now, at last, someone is fighting back.

On the verge of a fee award, after a “harassing and vexatious” lawsuit.

Lawsuits brought by “patent trolls,” companies that have no product but file barrages of patent lawsuits, have become commonplace across the tech sector. For the few companies that choose to fight these cases until the end, it’s an expensive endeavor, since defending a patent suit can cost anywhere from $1 million to several times that amount.

Television maker Vizio is one of the companies that fights back. It’s beaten no less than 16 “non-practicing entities,” and last week, the company released a statement showcasing its list of patent troll cases that ended in a key statistic: “$0 to plaintiff.” The list includes the usual bizarrely named shells, like “E-Contact Techs” and “Man Machine Interface,” as well as well-known patent holding companies like Walker Digital and Intellectual Ventures (whose patents were used by Pragmatus Telecom, one of the shells Vizio sent packing.)

Source: TV maker Vizio may finally get paid after beating 17th patent troll | Ars Technica