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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 (3 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.
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365 Comments   (+0 »)
   

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2011-08-10 11:43:47 AM
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. In practical use, the big guys watch those postings like a hawk, as the dollar amounts at risk demand it. Though already-granted patents would remain a concern for some time, things would progressively get better for the small developer, as they benefit from the big guys beating the crap out of every new posting. The EFF could even get in on it, letting some attorneys put pro-bono time toward perusing particularly broad applications.

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.
Not to say those arguments are *wrong*, necessarily, but they have a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding.
 
2011-08-10 11:43:59 AM
Happy to see a good outcome, but realize that this is one of many you'll face. The patent system is broken and lawyers are parasites drawn to success like flies to crap. They make money regardless, so there's literally zero reason not to just keep filing lawsuits until someone caves in.

Been through it several times myself, and over the years have gone from "oh shiat we have to settle" to "fark them, drag it out, countersue, and if necessary, close up shop before paying a dime." It hasn't got any less expensive, but it is certainly easier knowing what I'm going to do from the moment the papers show up.
 
2011-08-10 11:44:01 AM
Congratulations on the victory! Great to see that patent trolls can be foiled now and again.
 
2011-08-10 11:44:18 AM

Karma Curmudgeon: Dammit!
*issues licensing fee to Das Kiwizoid *


Hah! Great minds :)
 
2011-08-10 11:44:18 AM
"How about jack shiat and go fark yourself"
- Drew Curtis

i942.photobucket.com
 
2011-08-10 11:44:22 AM
No NDA? Can you reveal the name of the patent troll, so he/she/it can further behold the power of Fark?
 
2011-08-10 11:44:23 AM
i1080.photobucket.com
 
2011-08-10 11:44:36 AM
HELL YES DREW! WAY TO STICK IT TO 'EM!


I am so glad to be a farker today!
 
2011-08-10 11:46:45 AM

microlith: cretinbob: That's good news.
Patent trolls just hit Minecraft as well, saying Mojang can't use the name "scrolls" for their next game because people would confuse it with Oblivion:The Elder Scrolls.
Hopefully he doesn't fall for their bullshiat.

//let's kill all the lawyers

No, that's a trademark suit which Bethesda is obligated to carry out.


No they're not. The word "scrolls" was used long before Bethesda decided to include it in their games. They're being dicks.

/In game names, even
 
2011-08-10 11:48:00 AM
i.imgur.com
 
2011-08-10 11:49:02 AM

Bolo Jungle: I submitted this with a better headline


I submitted this with my patented better headline maker upper. You sir, are in violation of my patent. I demand $ 1 zillon.
 
2011-08-10 11:49:06 AM

mikaloyd: [i.imgur.com image 600x480]


Yes because none of us are browsing at work. Ever.
 
2011-08-10 11:49:08 AM

tv_news_guy: There are hundreds of Farkers with GED's in law who will take the case.


And some of us get paid well to do what FARK's lawyers do. We would also gladly take your money if you need the help. It's a bonus to have at least some bit of respect for your client, although that is never required.
 
2011-08-10 11:49:26 AM
settle with bullets like a man.
 
2011-08-10 11:50:06 AM

Cottage Cheesecake: "...we asked to strike the NDA provision. They agreed."

I write legal briefs for the state of MI for a living, and just asked around a bit. Nobody within my immediate reach has ever even heard of this happening. They just said, "OK"? Without even arguing about it? The only thing I can surmise is that their counsel is getting sick of representing douchebags and is getting purposefully sloppy in order that these assclowns can be fully outed to the world. Since you have no NDA, you can tell the world who they are, right? You can name names. I'd go ahead and do it. Carefully, of course.

Unleash the power of Fark on their sorry asses.


If they actually filed the lawsuit rather than just threatening to file, the filing itself is a public record. Just give us the case number and name the court, whether state, circuit, or federal. Ya gotta love PACER.
 
2011-08-10 11:50:30 AM

Ponzholio: LessO2: Congratulations Drew!

Free Total Fark for everyone to celebrate? Yes?

For you at least? Why not?



You totally rock!

Thank you.
 
2011-08-10 11:50:31 AM
This is the kind of thing that could drive Drew to drink.
 
2011-08-10 11:50:35 AM

DigitalCoffee: I'm more of the opinion that a horse's head might send a better message.


static.neatoshop.com

It's out of stock in the Fark Shop (new window), so maybe Drew already sent over a few.
 
2011-08-10 11:50:49 AM

mikaloyd: [i.imgur.com image 600x480]


I just shared the link on FB. Thanks, buddy,
 
2011-08-10 11:50:51 AM

Carousel Beast: microlith: cretinbob: That's good news.
Patent trolls just hit Minecraft as well, saying Mojang can't use the name "scrolls" for their next game because people would confuse it with Oblivion:The Elder Scrolls.
Hopefully he doesn't fall for their bullshiat.

//let's kill all the lawyers

No, that's a trademark suit which Bethesda is obligated to carry out.

No they're not. The word "scrolls" was used long before Bethesda decided to include it in their games. They're being dicks.

/In game names, even


But apparently no one before them thought to officially claim that term.

See also Sew Fast / Sew Easy vs The Whole Knitting World re "Stitch'n'biatch"
 
2011-08-10 11:51:13 AM
I understand the reason for not filing a counter-complaint, but without it, the patent troll still wins. His lawyers work on contingency, so he's lost nothing. You're out your attorney's fees (and a lot of time and angst). The trolls know that almost no one will come after them. That's why the business is so lucrative. But perhaps your lawyers understand that the amount of money that could be recovered is not worth the time and effort. If it were, they'd take the case on contingency.
 
2011-08-10 11:51:16 AM
Congrats, Drew!

Garçon! Steak and BJ's for everyone!
 
2011-08-10 11:52:53 AM
Saying that patent trolls suck hairy donkey balls disparages hairy donkey ball suckers everywhere.
 
2011-08-10 11:53:34 AM

techmom: Inflatable Rhetoric: These are not patent trolls, in the sense that they troll for comments. They file lawsuits in the hope that people will just pay them off, because it's often less expensive than legal costs, even if you're in the right.

Parasites is a better term.

"Patent tapeworms" - I like it!!


Tapeworms is even better than leeches.
 
2011-08-10 11:53:35 AM
Just make sure you use your site in the future to advertise what kind of shiat patent trolls are putting and maybe by keeping the public eye on it, change might finally happen.

/or the sky could turn green. One or the other.
 
2011-08-10 11:54:13 AM
Tijuana whores are patent trolls?
 
2011-08-10 11:54:14 AM
Cheers, Drew.

ll.broadbandsports.com

/fark the fark haters
 
2011-08-10 11:55:55 AM

ohmyvariousgods: (spelled out) draft becomes weeners? Who knew?


No. It's the word that rhymes with "toast" followed by the word that rhymes with "thirst" that gets filtered to "weeners".
 
2011-08-10 11:56:01 AM
I'm in Florida. The sky is blue, and I'm programming a Java UI for my nine-to-five. Sorry to let you down, Drew.

/rides an alligator to Wally World
 
2011-08-10 11:56:44 AM
Congrats Drew!

/let loose the name of the plaintiff, i'm sure fark has some /b/ elements that would be happy to ruin their lives.
 
2011-08-10 11:57:03 AM
mikaloyd

Is it wrong to be aroused by that picture ??
 
2011-08-10 11:57:32 AM
i1142.photobucket.com
 
2011-08-10 11:57:54 AM
Well played, seacop
 
2011-08-10 11:58:22 AM
Das Kiwizoid:
YOU GET NOTHING

YOU LOSE LOOSE

GOOD DAY, TROLLS


Sorry.
/Pet peeve
 
2011-08-10 11:58:58 AM

Spanky McStupid: Congrats, Drew!

Garçon! Steak and BJ's for everyone!


Sais-tu comment je sais tu es fabuleuse?
 
2011-08-10 11:58:59 AM

Flab: ohmyvariousgods: (spelled out) draft becomes weeners? Who knew?

No. It's the word that rhymes with "toast" followed by the word that rhymes with "thirst" that gets filtered to "weeners".



FTFY,
 
2011-08-10 11:59:17 AM
Congrats DREW!

You deserve a raise.
 
2011-08-10 11:59:34 AM
The USPTO would do us all a big favor if they just went away.
 
2011-08-10 12:00:06 PM
So lawsuits like this is the reason the big tech companies are spending billions on patent portfolios. Definately a win but an expensive one.
 
2011-08-10 12:00:43 PM

LordBollocks: mikaloyd

Is it wrong to be aroused by that picture ??


Maybe a little
 
2011-08-10 12:00:46 PM
Good news, Drew. Congrats.

If you don't want to pursue the counter suit, maybe a shout-out to Anonymous is in order...
 
2011-08-10 12:00:50 PM
For an actual discussion of how patent trolls operate and why evil people congregate in Texas (This American Life):
Link (new window)
 
2011-08-10 12:01:38 PM

brightestfell: Flab: ohmyvariousgods: (spelled out) draft becomes weeners? Who knew?

No. It's the word that rhymes with "thirst" followed by the word that rhymes with "toast" that gets filtered to "weeners".


FTFY,

this time without the whiskey bottle in my hand..
 
2011-08-10 12:01:58 PM
img59.imageshack.us
 
2011-08-10 12:02:49 PM
so now is fark going to be better again?
 
2011-08-10 12:03:54 PM
profile.ak.fbcdn.net
 
2011-08-10 12:03:56 PM

Marcus Aurelius: The USPTO would do us all a big favor if they just went away.


They're only a part of the problem.

We contracted a guy to write some software. He took the specs and manuals, etc, never did anything. Then he sued us for non-payment of $1500.

We went to small claims court, he lost. I suspect a lot of people paid him just so he'd go away, tho.

Had he sued for an amount too large for small claims court, we would have had a decision to make.
 
2011-08-10 12:04:50 PM
How do we know any of this really happened, this could just be a trick to garner sympathy for this 'Drew' person.
 
2011-08-10 12:06:16 PM
Congratulations, Drew. Fark patent trolls, and the lawyers they rode in on!
 
2011-08-10 12:07:47 PM

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.
 
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