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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Eastern District of Texas, April 2007

April 2007 brought 33 more patent cases to the Eastern District of Texas, bringing the total to 99 in the first 4 months of 2007. Out of 94 judicial districts, 87 had less patent cases than that in all of 2006. That’s right, more patent cases in 4 months in eastern Texas than anywhere in the country in the entire previous year, except for the 7 biggies (Delaware, New Jersey, Southern District of New York, Northern District of Illinois, Northern District of California, Central District of California, and of course EDTX).

By comparison, here are the total number of patent cases filed in each major patent jurisdiction in the first four months of 2007 (the CD California cases do not include 25 Ronald Katz cases that were consolidated into a single MDL case, which is included):

ED Texas 99
CD California 88
D New Jersey 49
ND Illinois 44
ND California 42
D Delaware 39
SD New York 37

Think about it: there were twice as many patent cases brought in the Eastern District in the first four months of 2007 than in any other jurisdiction in the country, except for Los Angeles.

April also brought 13 more troll cases to Eastern Texas, bringing the total to 40 troll cases in the first 4 months of 2007 out of 99 total (still at 40%). There were a couple I didn’t include but was tempted (you know who you are, Tessera, Finisar, and Individual Network), so the number may or may not be accurate. Troll is in the eye of the beholder, anyway.

So if you compare the number of troll cases, EDTX is #1 by a landslide. Through the first four months of 2007, here are the troll-stats (note – these do not include 5 declaratory judgment cases filed by legitimate plaintiffs against trolls to avoid getting sued in the Eastern District of Texas or Western District of Wisconsin – even with those, Texas wins):

ED Texas 40 Troll Cases (40% of all cases filed)

CD California 4 Troll Cases (5% of all cases filed)
D New Jersey 2 Troll Cases (4% of all cases filed)
ND Illinois 8 Troll Cases (18% of all cases filed)
ND California 5 Troll Cases (12% of all cases filed)
D Delaware 2 Troll Cases (5% of all cases filed)
SD New York 3 Troll Cases (8% of all cases filed)

Total “Big 7” except for Texas: 24 Troll Cases (8% of all cases filed).

That's right, the Eastern District of Cases has more patent troll filed litigations in the first four months of 2007 than Los Angeles, New Jersey, Chicago, Northern California, Delaware, and Southern New York combined. And while I haven't checked everywhere, it's likely that the Eastern District of Texas and Western District of Wisconsin together have more troll cases than the rest of the country combined right now.

I will have updates on the non-Texas troll cases in all of the above jurisdictions, plus a special look at the Western District of Wisconsin, at a later time. Meanwhile, here’s the Texas troll call for April, picking up where we left off in May:

28) Antor Media v. Samsung. Filed 4/2/07. See March entry #26. Repeat troll.

29) Polaris IP v. Art Technology Group, eGain Communications, eHarmony.com, Frederick’s of Hollywood, Inference Corp., Playboy, Quixtar, and XDrive. Filed 4/5/07. Related to the whole Constellation clan. Child of Plutus IP, of Indian Wells, CA.

30) QPSX Developments 5 Pty Ltd. v. Ciena, Ericsson, Futurewei, Huawei, NEC, Nokia, UTStarcom, and Zhone Techs. Filed 4/9/07. An Australian troll, QPSX previously sued a bunch of companies, including Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, and others. Everyone settled except for Nortel, who took QPSX to trial and lost. Nortel was hit with a $28M jury verdict. This new case is the next round of trolling for QPSX.

31) Global Communications, Inc. v. EchoStar. Filed 4/9/07. Global is a Florida corporation, with its principal place of business in Tallahassee. It’s officers are all the same person – the inventor Austin Coker. I tried to find information about Global to establish it as a legitimate business, but it looks like a shell corporation with no relationship at all to the Eastern District of Texas.

32) SBJ IP Holdings 1, LLC v. Netflix, Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and Borders. Filed 4/9/07. A lawyer-troll! SBJ IP Holdings 1 is owned by SBJ Holdings, LLC, which is owned by Brad Jackson of Dallas, Texas – a Dallas attorney. Why didn’t you file in the Northern District of Texas, Brad? Interestingly, this patent started with Vignette, a respected software company. It was sold in January of this year.

33) Lin Packaging Technologies v. Nanya Technology, Infineon, and related defendants. Filed 4/10/07. Another lawyer-troll case. And this one the same group as Texas MP3 from February (#16) – the group of attorneys from Monts & Ware. Address of the corporation is the same as Monts & Ware.

34) Disk Link Corp. v. Oracle, SAP, and 26 other defendants. Filed 4/10/07. Disk Link is a subsidiary of Acacia, a well-known mega-troll. Enough said.

35) Vcode Holdings, LLC & Vdata, LLC v. Cognex Corp. Filed 4/13/07. This is a tough one. Vcode appears to be related to Veritec, a company that probably would not fit my troll test. But Vdata is an alter ego of Acacia. You get in bed with a troll, you are a troll? Again, close call, but on the troll side of the line for now.

36) Orion IP v. Delta Machinery, One World Technologies. Filed 4/16/07. Constellation troll.

37) IP Innovation, LLC & Technology Licensing Corp. v. Apple, Inc. Filed 4/18/07. IP Innovation is a subsidiary of Acacia, a shell set up in Texas, owned completely by the California mega-troll. Technology Licensing Corp. is a Nevada Corporation with no ties to Texas.

38) Freedom Wireless v. Dobson Communications Corp., American Cellular & Ericsson. Filed 4/20/07. Freedom Wireless is a Nevada corporation run by Larry Day, a former Las Vegas blackjack dealer, and Douglas Fougnies, who once provided phony new-vehicle titles for stolen cars, according to the Wall Street Journal (9/14/05).

39) Freedom Wireless v. Suncom Wireless, Ericsson. Filed 4/20/07. See above.

40) Michael S. Sutton Ltd. v. Nokia. Filed 4/30/07. Sutton is a New Zealand shell corporation with no apparent connection to Texas.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eastern District of Texas, March 2007

In March, there were (at least) 10 more patent troll cases filed in the Eastern District. More and more non-troll companies are filing here too, due to the speed and favorable jury pool. Most of these legitimate companies have no connection to the Eastern District (with exception). Anyway, that brings the number to 27 troll cases in the first quarter of 2007 – as many as all patent cases filed in Arizona in all of 2006. That’s 27 out of 66 – roughly 40% of the cases in the Eastern District were troll cases in the first quarter of 2007. And if you add cases filed where the patentee had no connection at all to the venue, that percentage goes up to above 80%.

This month’s troll call:

18) Positive Technologies v. BenQ America, Fujitsu, JVC, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Proview Technology, Regent U.S.A., Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, and V, Inc. Filed 3/5/07. This is a Nevada corporate shell run by Robert Hotto, the patent inventor. Hotto is a California resident (Southern District of California). Using ED Texas, and suing multiple parties. Troll. Hired Cooley, but that doesn’t prevent him from being a troll. See, e.g., Ronald Katz.

19) Orion IP v. Costco, and 15 other defendants. Filed 3/5/07. Listed at same address in Marshall, Texas as all other Constellation group trolls. Represented by same usual suspects, including IP Navigation Group at same address as Orion. Yikes – many cases by this megatroll this month.

20) Constellation IP v. Avis, and 13 other defendants. Filed 3/9/07. Listed at same address in Marshall, Texas. Child of Plutus. Represented by same usual suspects, including IP Navigation Group at same address as Constellation. Part of Constellation patent troll group – or should it be Plutus patent troll? Busy month for them – see below. Looked up Plutus – is the Greek God of Greed. Fitting.

21) Cybergym Research LLC v. Icon Health & Fitness, Sears, Costco, Sporting Authority, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Filed 3/9/07. This is a Texas company set up purely for the purpose of getting venue in Texas. The owner of the Texas company is Cybergym, Inc., at 26500 Purissima Road, Los Altos. That also happens to be the home address (or used to be) of Paul Hickman, the well-known patent attorney troll behind Accolade.

22) Marshall Packaging Co., LLC v. Amcor PET Packaging, Wal-Mart. Filed 3/13/07. This is a Marshall, Texas company seemingly established to get jurisdiction in Texas. The sole owner of Marshall Packaging is Neil Gilbert of Falmouth, Maine (the inventor). Plaintiff is being represented by Monts & Ware, patent attorneys who have become trolls themselves.

23) Web Telephony LLC v. Verizon, AT&T, Earthlink, SunRocket, and Vonage. Filed 3/14/07. Illinois shell corporation. Appears to be alter ego of Robert Swartz, inventor, but not certain. No apparent connection to Texas, using contingency firm, suing multiple manufacturers. Troll.

24) Antor Media v. Metacafe. Filed 3/27/07. Antor Media is a Texas corporation, but lists itself as having an address in Manhattan. Its officers – Jean Paul Castille and Odile Favier - seem to be from Plano, Texas. Antor Media has sued everybody. Antor Media seems to exist solely for the purpose of suing manufacturers and extracting large settlements. Verdict? Troll.

25) Orion IP v. Xerox, and, unbelievably, 63 other defendants!!!!!!!!!!. Filed 3/29/07. Filed complaint against 64 companies, in one 71-page complaint. See above for more info on Orion, part of this Constellation troll network.

26) Cushion Technologies v. American Sporting Goods Corp., and 36 other defendants. That’s right, Cushion sued 37 in one case in Marshall in one day – 3/30/07. Represented by all of the usual suspects, including David Pridham of IP Navigation Group, which interestingly, is at the same address as our earlier troll Triton, and Orion. Cushion is a child of CT IP Holdings, which is a child of CT IP Holdings TX, which is a child of David Pridham – the same patent attorney representing it. David lists a Rhode Island address. Cushion got its patents from Nike – interestingly, the same day or close to the day that Orion dismissed its case against Nike. This is all related to the Constellation group, or the Constellation group rewarded its attorney Pridham by giving him a patent to go sue on.

27) Phoenix IP v. Good Steward Software, and 9 other defendants, including Wal-Mart and Honeywell. Filed 3/30/07 – same day as Cushion. Phoenix IP is a child of Plutus IP of Indian Wells, CA. More of the Constellation patent troll.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Eastern District of Texas, February 2007

15 patent cases were filed in the Eastern District of Texas in February 2007 (still 1 every other day). First, note that even as to the possibly non-troll plaintiffs, none appear to be based out of the Eastern District of Texas. VirnetX, Rainin and PNI, for example, are located in Northern California.

So out of these 15 cases, it appears that 5 were filed by true patent trolls (making the total 17 cases out of 31 in January-February 2007 - just over 50%).

Here continues the 2007 "troll call":

13) L&H Concepts v. various defendants. Filed 2/7/07. L&H is based in Macomb, Michigan - entity controlled by individual Craig Loeher. Apparently shell company with no ties to Texas. Represented by Brooks & Kushman.

14) Polymer Solvents, LLC v. PPG Industries, BASF. Filed 2/9/07. Polymer Solvents appears to be a company based in an apartment building in Beachwood, Ohio. Shell corporation set up by inventor Richard Henry. No apparent ties to Texas.

15) Triton IP v. Sage Software, SSA Global, SAS Institute, Frontrange Solutions, Onyx Software, Made2Manage Systems, Symeron Software. Filed 2/9/07. Triton is a troll owned by Plutus IP of Indian Wells, CA. According to documents filed in the Western District of Wisconsin against Taurus IP, Plutus is a company controlled by an individual, Erich Spangenberg of Indian Wells, California. There appear to be a network of trolls including Orion, Constellation, Taurus, Triton, Polaris, and others. These companies were all set up at the same address in Marshall, Texas (except that Taurus recently "moved" to Monona, Wisconsin, conveniently located in new rocket docket Western District of Wisconsin). Other than these shell companies set up solely for the purpose of getting favorable venue, there appears to be no ties to Texas.

16) Texas MP3 Technologies, Ltd. v. Samsung, Apple, Sandisk. Filed 2/16/07. The five members of Texas MP3 Technologies are Brent N. Bumgardner, Britton D. Monts, Gordie D. Puckett, Leslie D Ware, and Mark W Born. These are the 5 members of the Texas patent litigation firm Monts & Ware. The address for this company is in the same building as the law firm representing it - McKool Smith. This appears to be a "patent lawyer troll." After representing trolls making millions, why wouldn't patent lawyers get in on the action? Note that the patent was owned by Koreans before being sold to the Texas lawyers.

17) Keystone Autonics, Inc. v. Sirius Satellite Radio & XM Satellite Radio. Filed 2/28/07. The president and director of Keystone is George Hindman, who is the inventor of the patent in suit. Keystone has been described as a patent holding company (located in Austin in the Western District of Texas - no apparent ties to the Eastern District). I'm open to more information on this one.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Eastern District of Texas, January 2007

There were 16 patent cases filed in the Eastern District of Texas in January 2007. That's one every other day. 75% were filed by trolls. Why do trolls like the Eastern District of Texas? That's easy. That district, comprised of courts in Marshall, Tyler, Texarkana, and other locales, consists of conservative jurors who think the government (and, by extension, the Patent Office) can do no wrong, and who favor patentees more than anywhere else in the country. So in the Eastern District of Texas, the juries there actually find patents valid much more than the national average. I believe I have read that it is the best place for plaintiffs to try cases in the entire country. Thus, it is attracting more patent cases than Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago.

And the judges of the Eastern District are keeping cases. They don't transfer cases out, they keep short times to trial, and don't grant summary judgments (although I hear that there are now faster places - that's a subject for a later post). So if you are a patent troll and you want to put extreme pressure to get a settlement, wouldn't you file in the Eastern District of Texas?

Here are the 12 cases filed in the Eastern District of Texas in January 2007 that I think arguably qualify as troll cases, although in a few, I note the room to argue otherwise:

1) Mershon v. Sling Media: Filed: 1/5/07. Status: unknown. Mershon is our Joe Schmo of the example on the first post. He's an individual. He apparently wrote Sling and tried to get a license. Does he make products? Is he trying to get a company to commercialize his invention? Or is he just holding up a productive company that makes a cool product? Unknown. Here are troll-like features, though: He's from New Jersey, Sling is from California, yet he files his case in Marshall, Texas. He's using Susman Godfrey, a firm that takes a lot of troll cases. Without knowing more, it's hard to say, but I'm leaning troll on this one.

2) Reid & netP&L Incorporated v. General Motors, Halliburton, Charles Schwab, Microsoft. Filed: 1/16/07. Status: possible troll. Again, with individuals, its hard to tell. Pro-troll factors include contingency firm, shell corporation not making any products, lawsuit against numerous defendants in a variety of fields. In this case, Reid (and his wife) own netP&L. Reid, on the other hand, owns another business at the same address: Algorithmic Trading Advisors. Anti-troll factors: Reid apparently is from Texas. Unlike Mershon, he didn't just pick Texas to get a favorable jurisdiction - he actually lives there, as far as I can tell. I'm still leaning troll on this one - too many lawsuits against too many fields.

3) OPTi Inc. v. Apple. Filed: 1/16/07. Status: troll. According to Wikipedia, although OPTi used to be a legitimate company, in 2002 "the company sold all manufacturing and marketing assets to OPTi Technologies (a separate company). Currently, the company is trying to license its intellectual property in chipset design and only has one employee."

4) Quantum World Corp. v. Atmel, Lenovo, Winbond, National Semiconductor, IBM. Filed 1/18/07. Colorado "company" with address in Roswell, New Mexico. Contingency firm, multiple defendants. The inventor is the sole member of the corporation. Comscire appears to be a company selling products, and related to Quantum World. This one's a tough call. I would have to review the patents, products, and know whether QW tried to license the patents before suing. I'm including it, but I'm neutral on the troll-ness of this one without further information.

5) StorMedia Texas, LLC v. CompUSA, Fujitsu, Hitachi, J&R Electronics, Samsung, Seagate, TigerDirect, Toshiba, and Western Digital. Filed 1/22/07. Multi-defendant case involving shell corporation set up just to get jurisdiction in the Eastern District of Texas, represented by contingency firm. Definite troll. But interesting. The patent-in-suit issued to "United Mobile Corporation" of Los Altos, California. StorMedia is a corporation listing an address the same as thousands of other companies at a "corporations services company" in Austin, Texas. Its sole owner is Peter J. Courture, listing an address in Tyler, Texas (which, when Googled, comes up the same as an architecture firm - former tenant of a now vacant office?). Mr. Courture also happens to be the "Chief Strategic Officer" of United Microelectronics Corp. of Sunnyvale, CA, "responsible for the intellectual property rights group." United Mobile, United Microelectronics, UMC, shell corporation in Tyler. Troll.

6) epicRealm v. Various. Filed 1/25/07. Some people think epicRealm is a troll. I agree.

7) Fenner Investment v. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony. Filed 1/5/07. Troll, according to some. I think Fenner may be local to Texas, but this is definitely a troll.

8) Lonestar Inventions, L.P. v. Freescale Semiconductor, Agere. Filed 1/19/07. Most certainly a troll. Previously, Lonestar sued Broadcom, Marvell Semiconductor, and Analog Devices, in the Western District of Texas (silly rabbit). Broadcom moved to transfer, noting that the inventor, a California resident, "formed Lonestar ... in the Austin office of the Jenkins & Gilchrist law firm,"
just to get venue. Lonestar has only one parent: Lonestar Inventions Management, LLC, which has two members: Osman Ersed Akcasu of Morgan Hill, CA and Gerald Tallinger of Cupertino, CA. They both work at OEA Int'l, Inc. (abbreviation for inventor Akcasu). Of course, Judge Sparks transferred the WD Tex case to ND Cal. But the ED TEX case in Tyler -- well, it still remains in Tyler.

9) Accolade Systems LLC v. 01 Communique Laboratory, LogMeIn, Symatec. Filed 1/30/07. Troll. Even worse: a patent-attorney troll (we will see many of these, and will be a subject of a future post). Accolade is a company run by Paul Hickman and Michael Gough -- two Californians. They are the inventors of the patent-in-suit. Accolade is an LLC listed as being run by "Michael Gough" of Marshall, Texas. Paul Hickman is a patent lawyer in Silicon Valley. The patent was originally assigned to G&H Nevada-Tek of Incline Village, Nevada (G&H standing for Gough & Hickman), then assigned to Accolade solely to get venue in Texas. Nobody has moved to transfer.

10) Accolade Systems LLC v. Citrix, Webex, and Laplink Software. Filed 1/30/07. See above. Troll.

11) GPNE Corp. v. Samsung, LG Electronics, HTC America. Filed 1/31/07. Hawaiian Troll! GPNE is a Delaware corporation with principal place of business in Honolulu, Hawaii - at the same address as the Hokondo Waikiki Beachside Hostel. Need more evidence this is a troll? See the next entry. Hawaiian inventors, Hawaiian company, contingency lawfirm, multiple defendants, East Texas lawsuit. Man, if I were litigating this case, I'd move to transfer to Oahu.

12) GPNE Corp. v. Time Warner, Comcast, Charter. Filed 1/31/07. More Hawaiian trolling.

So, perhaps being generous (there's another that may have fallen onto this list), 75% of the patent cases filed in January 2007 in the Eastern District of Texas were by patent trolls.

Welcome to Patent Troll Tracker

What is a patent troll? I do not really know, but like Justice Douglas and porn, I know it when I see it. The purpose of this blog is to bring to light the extreme problems our US patent system is having with patent trolls: corporations that make no products, but do nothing but acquire patents to sue and make revenue.

It's hard to define exactly who is a troll and who is not. For example, MIT goes out and sues companies for patent infringement. Is MIT a troll? It makes no products. But I argue it contributes to society. Through its research, MIT advances the progress of science. MIT is not a patent troll.

Is individual Joe Schmo a patent troll? Tougher question. Is Joe making products? Is he trying to get companies to make products? Or is he just getting patents to strike it rich? I argue that Joe #1, trying to get licensees to make products for reasonable royalties, is probably not a troll. But it's a close call. What about when Joe creates shell company after shell company, trying to extract millions out of productive society? I call troll.

What about companies like Acacia? Intellectual Ventures? These companies are not trolls. They are mega-trolls. These companies are acquiring patents on massive scales, and asserting them against entire industries, attempting to extract huge sums of money. In the case of Intellectual Ventures, reports are they have been able to do this without filing a single lawsuit - without firing a single shot. Really quite unbelievable when you think about it. Will they ever file a lawsuit? Certainly. Why else would a mega-troll exist?

So that's this blog, in a nutshell. I hope to educate the world on how many patent cases are out there that are filed by trolls. And I really don't know where to begin. So I'll begin where every good troll begins: in the Eastern District of Texas. I'd like to list every patent troll that's filed a patent litigation in the first six months of 2007. Some will be tough to pin. I'll need your help.

As I develop this blog, a couple of ground rules. Please don't send me anything that isn't public information. I don't want to see it. Public means you got it through Google, or some other public database, like PACER or LEXIS. Not that you got it from representing client X against troll Y in some lawsuit. I'll delete anything sent to me that isn't public, in my opinion. But please do send me any information about any troll lawsuit out there. My email address should be visible somewhere on this page, but I'll repeat it again here: trolltracker@gmail.com

Happy Hunting.