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Patent-infringement lawsuit against Fark settled for zero dollars. Also, patent trolls suck hairy donkey balls 
Posted by Drew at 2011-08-10 10:59:00 AM (365 comments) | Permalink

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17941 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Aug 2011 at 11:00 AM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



A lot of you were already aware that Fark was sued by a patent troll back in January. I wanted to share that as of today, after eight months of legal work, that lawsuit was dismissed.

Here's the tl;dr version:

Their patent had nothing to do with Fark. The patent troll realized we were going to fight them instead of settle, so they asked for our best offer. I said how about you get nothing and drop the lawsuit? They accepted.

/tl;dr

Normally, we wouldn't be able to talk about any of the details. Terms of patent lawsuit settlements are usually bound by ironclad nondisclosure agreements. NDAs allow patent trolls to extract maximum settlements from each entity they've filed lawsuits against - as a result no one knows who paid what. In the last round of settlement negotiations we asked to strike the NDA provision. They agreed (and to the attorneys out there reading this, I'm as baffled as you are).

Striking the NDA was crucial because I wanted to be able to tell everyone what really happened: we didn't pay them a single dime.

The patent covered a method for inputting news releases into a web form, which would then compile the news release and email it to media outlets. Now, aside from the fact that a ton of prior art exists and that the patent should never have been awarded in the first place, Fark and all the other websites named in the lawsuit don't produce "news releases". In the world of journalism, the term "news release" is equivalent to "press release" - the patent itself equates the two in the opening description. Could a judge have ruled otherwise? Sure. They've been known to rule that the sky is green - which is why this lawsuit was dangerous.

As much as I'd like to fight the good fight, we reluctantly decided against pursuing a counterclaim against the patent holder. Too expensive--as in a couple million dollars too expensive, years of legal wrangling, and no guarantee of recovering all of the spent money by the time it was over. I sincerely hope someone still in the case with deeper pockets pursues these guys. I'm happy to help in any way I can. Unfortunately, Yahoo settled a while back, and Conde Nast settled out for Reddit this week. AOL is still in it though, I believe they're inclined to hang in - especially given what happened with Fark settling for nothing.

At any rate, this bullshiat is finally over. It was a nightmare. Imagine someone breaking into your home, then being forced to sit on the couch while their lawyers file motions over how much stuff they can take. My wife Heather said my first draft of this post sounded too angry, probably due to the fact that every third word was an f-bomb (among other things I paraphrased our best one-time settlement offer as "how about jack sh*t and go f*ck yourself", which may be a more accurate depiction of how I really felt at the time). I won't lie though, I was angry and I am still. Too much money was wasted on this, too many sleepless nights, too many hours away from running Fark, and all this because someone else decided that suing companies for bearing a vague resemblance to their patent (patents they don't even appear to use themselves) is a good business model. We're short a full-time employee thanks to these douchebags.

I'm just glad it's over. Huge thanks to Legal Team Fark at Roetzel & Andress, who were able to quickly grasp the reasons why this patent lawsuit was bullshiat and hone those arguments into legal nightmares for the plaintiff. I can't recommend them highly enough to anyone going through a similar situation. After all, when's the last time you saw a patent lawsuit settled for zero dollars? Pretty rare.

All right that's it, let's get back to funny news. C'mon Florida, don't fail me now.
· · ·
(view entire blog)


365 Comments   (+0 »)
   

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2011-08-10 12:08:09 PM

EliminateNinniesAndTwits: How do we know any of this really happened, this could just be a trick to garner sympathy for this 'Drew' person.


He's not new he was just banned from posting outside of the TFD page because of the strippers that he keeps with him at all times, they are NSFW and can't be shown on the main page. this post was screened by four different mods and a catholic priest before it was posted.
 
2011-08-10 12:09:08 PM

Flab: brightestfell: FTFY,
this time without the whiskey bottle in my hand..

You got that wrong. That particular combination filters to "Boobies".

Toast, thirst, draft, Boobies... These words all go very well with thisisyourbrainonFark's picture.


that goes double after the first drink or two of the day
 
2011-08-10 12:09:24 PM
I consider patent trolls to be some of the worst dandruff on the shirt of humanity, as they not only produce nothing themselves but actively discourage innovation in others at a time when the race needs as much innovation as they can get.

So good on ya, Drew. Congratulations!
 
2011-08-10 12:10:36 PM

Lee Jackson Beauregard: [img59.imageshack.us image 250x350]


I laughed
 
2011-08-10 12:11:49 PM

Ponzholio: Tijuana whores are patent trolls?


tijuana bring your mother to the gang bang?
 
2011-08-10 12:12:22 PM

Bluemookie: [i1080.photobucket.com image 640x480]


Is that the white spiderman?
 
2011-08-10 12:13:19 PM
This is bringing back nightmares from 1993:
<a target="_blank" href="http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.09/09.08/Patents/index.html">V ideoBeep Patent Article</a> (new window)
 
2011-08-10 12:14:57 PM
i59.photobucket.com
 
2011-08-10 12:15:31 PM
"What's your offer?"
"How about you mow my lawn, restock my wet bar, clean my pool, and teach Bevets all about science! Oh, and punch your mother in the cock."
 
2011-08-10 12:16:58 PM
i59.photobucket.com
 
2011-08-10 12:18:20 PM
All right that's it, let's get back to funny news. C'mon Florida, don't fail me now.
· · ·


Well, we've been waiting on you, what happened this year? No Tampa Fark party?
 
2011-08-10 12:21:40 PM
America in a nutshell: Litigate for profit.

I don't see what the big deal is. People usually don't give a fark unless/until it happens to them. Does anyone really know or take care of their neighbors anymore?
 
2011-08-10 12:22:33 PM

leftyblonde: [i59.photobucket.com image 200x200]


I love you so much. In a tcp-ip kinda way. :D
 
2011-08-10 12:24:02 PM
Congrats, Drew...

Maybe you should think about taking up a collection to get you back some legal fees and a Fark employee. I'll donate a few.

(and thanks again for introducing me to the husband)...

/DC Fark Party
 
2011-08-10 12:24:21 PM
i59.photobucket.com
 
2011-08-10 12:25:15 PM
HUZZAH!



Good going, Drew. Glad you won.
 
2011-08-10 12:26:13 PM

Achi11es: I love you so much.


i59.photobucket.com
 
2011-08-10 12:27:08 PM

ultraholland: Das Kiwizoid: YOU GET NOTHING

YOU LOSE LOOSE

GOOD DAY, TROLLS

Sorry.
/Pet peeve


Lose: verb. Past tense of loss
Loose: adjective. not firmly or tightly fixed in place

Congratulations, you can drop this pet peeve.
 
2011-08-10 12:28:53 PM
Hurrah! Congrats, Drew. I think all of these Anonymous and LulzSec groups should focusing on badgering the patent trolls. Totally valuable use of their time, and really awesome for the rest of us.
 
2011-08-10 12:36:50 PM

ringersol: The patent system needs an opposition concept like they have with Trademarks.

That is: new applications are posted for community review, and anyone with a beef (prior art, etc) can submit that information to the examiners to consider in making the grant/deny decision... And the problem would largely be solved, with a minimum of contentious debate over things like ending all software/method patents, abandoning the patent system, etc.


It already exists. Anyone can submit prior art to an Examiner to consider during prosecution, and new applications are published after 18 months. Apparently hasn't "largely solved" the problem.
 
2011-08-10 12:38:45 PM
Successful countersuit would have been better news, Drew, but I'm glad to hear you told them to get stuffed. Now post their office address so that further justice can be done.


BitwiseShift: If there were only someway to patent TrollingExtortionBehavior© and sue the trollsters back.


Niiiiiiice.

/runs to patent office
 
2011-08-10 12:43:37 PM
PIES FOR EVERYONE!*

*Note: you are required to provide your own pie
 
2011-08-10 12:43:42 PM

ringersol: That is: new applications are posted for community review, and anyone with a beef (prior art, etc) can submit that information to the examiners to consider in making the grant/deny decision. In practical use, the big guys watch those postings like a hawk, as the dollar amounts at risk demand it.


Actually, there already is a procedure to submit prior art to the examiner within two months after an application is published (and a majority of applications are published since you have to submit to publication if you want to file in foreign jurisictions). It's extremely rare that someone actually uses this procedure, though we've on occasion had clients who have 1) noticed the publication in time and 2) had relevant prior art that hadn't already been submitted to the examiner.

The problem is this is much harder to monitor than trademarks. For trademarks, you monitor anything close to your marks, and there are services that will do this for you. That's not that hard, because it's just a word or a few words. Not so simple with patent applications.
 
2011-08-10 12:43:47 PM
Awesome Drew. Well done. Troll stew for dinner?
 
2011-08-10 12:44:37 PM
i911.photobucket.com
 
2011-08-10 12:48:34 PM
Congratulations Drew, great work.
 
2011-08-10 12:48:53 PM
I won't lie though, I was angry and I am still.

You'll get over it.

/don't hurt me
 
2011-08-10 12:48:57 PM
t3.gstatic.com

Congrats, Drew
 
2011-08-10 12:50:06 PM
Can someone paraphrase the tl;dr version for me?

/didn't read thread either...
 
2011-08-10 12:52:20 PM
CONGRATULATIONS DREW!!!!
 
2011-08-10 12:53:12 PM
ROCK ON, DREW AND CREW!!!

I'm dying to know who the patent troll(s) are / were! OUT THEM!!!!
 
2011-08-10 12:54:49 PM

Unright: Weird. I just listened to the This American Life podcast on how patent trolls work (link) and got really pissed about it.

Patent laws need to change. Software is language not invention.


Seconded. Anyone who's interested in this topic should check out that broadcast. Excellent piece. One interesting detail: they guy who coined the term "patent troll" is now an executive in a giant patent troll company.

Even with the win, it really sucks to the n'th degree that in Fark's case fighting this still cost the site an employee-worth of legal costs, and counter-suing this jaggoff into oblivion (or even just to recover legal costs) would be counterproductive. Bittersweet victory.
 
2011-08-10 12:56:36 PM
Damn you, Drew, for giving me a reason to cheer on AOL!
 
2011-08-10 12:57:57 PM
I've been wondering what was going on with this.

leftyblonde

Hrm, you being here, does this mean this thread has now become a posting of the last contest?

last post.

/pretty sure it gets filtered.
 
2011-08-10 01:02:35 PM
JackieRabbit: Lose: verb. Past tense of loss
Loose: adjective. not firmly or tightly fixed in place

Congratulations, you can drop this pet peeve


tisk tisk. you've been around long enough to be able to identify a rotsky
 
2011-08-10 01:02:37 PM

Monkeylint: Seconded. Anyone who's interested in this topic should check out that broadcast. Excellent piece.


Eh, has some problems and could have been researched better. They do the usual NPR thing of "we asked person A to describe this topic. Here's what they said. We won't bother verifying it or anything, and if it's wrong, blame person A."
And it's not just little bits, but major parts of the story - there's a segment where they talk about how outrageous it is that there are three patents on the same thing... but they aren't. They're three applications with the same title, by the same inventor, with the same filing date - two are continuations of the first one, and they all have different claims. If they asked any patent practitioner, they would have found that out, but they didn't.

TAL does a good job telling peoples' stories, but not such a good job on anything that requires real journalism.
 
2011-08-10 01:03:24 PM
Way to go Drew! Patent/copyright trolls need to be tied to stakes and lit on fire, then, while still on fire, punched in the face repeatedly by strong men wearing fireproof suits.
 
2011-08-10 01:04:55 PM
 
2011-08-10 01:06:03 PM

Leeds: Drew,

Please post the patent troll's name and contact information.

-The Internets


Yeah, I'm surprised FARK would be a target for this reason. Either the troll was unaware that this site is chock-full of tech-savvy miscreants or was somehow unafraid of the potential for hot internet vigilante justice. Perhaps he figured he was safe because he was suing from behind 7 proxies? ;) 4-Chan or SA would probably be the only contenders for "worse tiger to grab by the tail".
 
2011-08-10 01:08:36 PM
bowiestie.files.wordpress.com

STFU and GTFO
 
2011-08-10 01:09:34 PM
I heard someone got a 24k Gold Laptop, a hot tub, a bevy of hookers and some blow.

He knows who I'm talking about, no it isn't Drew. I'm jealous.
 
2011-08-10 01:09:42 PM

ultraholland: Das Kiwizoid: YOU GET NOTHING

YOU LOSE LOOSE

GOOD DAY, TROLLS

Sorry.
/Pet peeve


Attempted rotsky is attempted.
 
2011-08-10 01:09:55 PM
Fantastic news Drew! Congrats, and keep up the great work.
 
2011-08-10 01:12:08 PM
I have a patent that describes how you get things to do stuff. Soon, I will be bigger than Exxon!

Seriously, though: congrats on the win, sorry about the cost, and may all patent trolls one day know the might of the societal biatch slap.
 
2011-08-10 01:15:32 PM

mercator_psi: I would wear a shirt that said "how about jack sh*t and go f*ck yourself".

An uncensored version.


MAKE IT SO, FARK STORE
 
2011-08-10 01:17:05 PM
darog.smbks.net
 
2011-08-10 01:17:09 PM
I think "jack shiat and go fark yourself" would have been a perfectly cromulent response in this case.
 
2011-08-10 01:20:23 PM

Mr_Ectomy: mercator_psi: I would wear a shirt that said "how about jack sh*t and go f*ck yourself".

An uncensored version.

MAKE IT SO, FARK STORE


but srsly, and put an ad for Roetzel & Andress on the back.
 
2011-08-10 01:21:01 PM
Hooray! A free month Total Fark for everyone... No, how about just me then?... What was that... No I don't want jack sh*t and I am nowhere near flexible enough to f*ck myself.
 
2011-08-10 01:22:11 PM
It is great to see the occasional win for the good guys in the legal system. We get so bogged down in hilariously bad rulings, court cases where the robber wins money because he got hurt in the home of the victim, police/judicial thuggery by way of citation, and all the rest that sometimes its hard to see how our system can possibly be successful. That said, every once in a while, we get reminded that there are parts of the legal system that work diligently and tirelessly for us. So... thank you... to all the good lawyers out there who help defend people against this kind of bs, who represent kids, who represent domestic violence victims seeking restraining orders, and all the rest of you who are actually trying your best to make the world a slightly more liveable place.
 
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