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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 (360 comments) | Permalink

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18056 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Aug 2011 at 11:00 AM (9 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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.
· · ·

360 Comments     (+0 »)
 


Oldest | « | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | » | Newest | Show all

 
2011-08-10 11:15:05 AM  
Congrats, just renewed my sub and glad of it.
 
2011-08-10 11:15:16 AM  
These people appear to do NOTHING but go around and see what kind of match they can get between patents and anything that will gain them money. Whether it's accurate is irrelevant, and it sure ain't ethical. It's often cheaper to settle than it is to fight just for the reasons you listed. They count on that. The people responsible for this BS need to be keel hauled, drawn and quartered, dipped in lemon juice (for the burn) then honey and tied to fire ant hills.

That you walked away from the thing somewhat intact is very good news.
 
2011-08-10 11:15:37 AM  
behold the power of FARK .... good going!
 
2011-08-10 11:15:41 AM  
Glad you won this one, Drew. Too bad you can't countersue, but I can see your reasoning there and can't fault it.

Also, hot cocoa sampler box? ? Are we celebrating by digging up old Fark memes?

/My dog wants steak.
 
2011-08-10 11:15:45 AM  
Thank you for not settling, Drew. These bastards are criminals. This needs to become a big story.
 
2011-08-10 11:16:06 AM  
They don't use the patents themselves. There are companies that specialize only in buying patents and then suing every company that does anything remotely close to what the patent covers.

Good for you, Drew, for going the distance and tossing the NDA.
 
2011-08-10 11:16:12 AM  
Isn't there something going on with Google and patent-trolling or something about Android and sub-sequentially any phone running Android? Maybe I was dreaming, but I thought I overheard someone discussing it recently
 
2011-08-10 11:16:14 AM  
Congratulations, Drew.

Also, nice work on the settlement offer. My most famous one? "Tell the Plaintiffs to go piss up a rope." The mediator looked at me, horrified, waiting for me to give him a real counter. I just smiled from ear to ear and said, "Oh! And, also? Plaintiffs to provide own rope. Make sure you write that part down."

I am going to use yours next time.
 
2011-08-10 11:16:15 AM  
It is time for patent reform.
 
2011-08-10 11:16:22 AM  
I submitted this with a better headline
 
2011-08-10 11:16:27 AM  
Good for you Drew. Congrats.
 
2011-08-10 11:16:32 AM  
Fark has full-time employees now?
 
2011-08-10 11:16:51 AM  
All right that's it, let's get back to funny news. C'mon Florida, don't fail me now.

Chad Ochocinco is moving in with some poor family from Boston for a few weeks. If you cannot get some yuks and harhars out of that then the bastards have broken your sense of humor.
 
2011-08-10 11:17:30 AM  
Congrats you showed them your pimp hand, and your pimp hand is strong.
 
2011-08-10 11:17:38 AM  
congratulations Drew.
 
2011-08-10 11:17:48 AM  
Drew,

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

-The Internets
 
2011-08-10 11:18:01 AM  
What's sad is not only did they come after you, to no greater good than to fark with you... they didn't even come after you with their best.

(Or so I assume from their giving away the NDA.)

I hope it costs them; I'm insulted by proxy.
 
2011-08-10 11:18:02 AM  
Congrats Drew
 
2011-08-10 11:18:33 AM  
Thank you Anonymous Sponsor!
 
2011-08-10 11:18:52 AM  
If there were only someway to patent TrollingExtortionBehavior© and sue the trollsters back.

Bonus: get their legal team to jump ship with some ethically-compromised reasoning why they should go to the other side.
 
2011-08-10 11:19:00 AM  
Score one for the good guys.
 
2011-08-10 11:19:15 AM  

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.
 
2011-08-10 11:19:25 AM  
Drew, if you were local I'd be leaving six packs on your front porch for this.

Thanks for fighting the good fight.
 
2011-08-10 11:19:42 AM  
The price is right.
 
2011-08-10 11:19:47 AM  
This is really awesome news, Drew. I'm really happy this is over for you!

/This explains the all caps Facebooking last night, huh?
 
2011-08-10 11:20:45 AM  
BS loses one fight today! Awesome.
 
2011-08-10 11:21:09 AM  
Congratulations Drew!

Free Total Fark for everyone to celebrate? Yes?
 
2011-08-10 11:21:16 AM  

Bartleby the Scrivener: I can hear how much anger this produced. But I think sending a small gift might help make amends in order to bring closure to this conflict. I suggest a hot cocoa sampler box.


I'm more of the opinion that a horse's head might send a better message.
 
2011-08-10 11:21:58 AM  
Full time employees?

Hey, Drew, can I work for Fark as a solicitor who gets TFers to pay up each month and get new clients (liters) to join the TF extravaganza?
 
2011-08-10 11:22:38 AM  

todangst: This needs to become a big story.


I vote for finding a more interesting story to make "big."
 
2011-08-10 11:22:40 AM  
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.
 
2011-08-10 11:22:41 AM  

btrflykate: /This explains the all caps Facebooking last night, huh?


With beer, lower case letters become redundant.
 
2011-08-10 11:22:51 AM  
recently a judge ordered sanctions against a lawfirm known to work for patent trolls, as their actions were determined to be extortion.
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110805/17230815417/patent-troll-law​yers-smac k ed-down-made-to-pay-sanctions-mass-lawsuits-followed-quick-settlement-​offers.sht ml
 
2011-08-10 11:23:02 AM  
HUGE congrats!! This makes me happy like a little school girl. Yay for justice!
 
2011-08-10 11:23:05 AM  
So do we all get a free month of Total fark in celebration?
 
2011-08-10 11:23:28 AM  
Congrats!


Also... so your wife's name is heather eh? Is she hot like most Heathers?
 
2011-08-10 11:24:00 AM  
FTFB: 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

How YOU doin'?
 
2011-08-10 11:24:08 AM  
"We'll give you half... of nothing"
 
2011-08-10 11:24:11 AM  
Was meow said the dog the judge in the case?

Congrats!
 
2011-08-10 11:24:39 AM  
I own the rights to "jack sh*t and go f*ck yourself." Please cease and desist from all further usage unless prior permission is granted and payment is made.
 
2011-08-10 11:24:46 AM  
Anyone got a picture of the squirrel with big balls?

Good job Drew!
 
2011-08-10 11:24:47 AM  
Yay! That is all
 
2011-08-10 11:24:57 AM  

Dusk-You-n-Me: Score one for the good guys.


Score one for the lawyers anyways...
 
2011-08-10 11:24:58 AM  
Good news. Scum like these are the Westboro Baptist Churches of the legal world, but harder to ignore.
 
2011-08-10 11:24:58 AM  
Awesome! Way to fight, Drew. If more people stood up to the fargin iceholes, they would find more profitable pursuits.
 
2011-08-10 11:25:00 AM  

AtticusFinchEsq: Congratulations, Drew.

Also, nice work on the settlement offer. My most famous one? "Tell the Plaintiffs to go piss up a rope." The mediator looked at me, horrified, waiting for me to give him a real counter. I just smiled from ear to ear and said, "Oh! And, also? Plaintiffs to provide own rope. Make sure you write that part down."

I am going to use yours next time.


I wish that more judges and lawyers were willing to use plain talk like this. The whole thing was garbage.
 
2011-08-10 11:25:08 AM  
I want to see Drew's first draft - cuz I like watching people lose their sh*t & swear a lot.
 
2011-08-10 11:25:20 AM  
In the former soviet union the patent lawyers you.
 
2011-08-10 11:25:22 AM  

steveGswine: What's sad is not only did they come after you, to no greater good than to fark with you... they didn't even come after you with their best.

(Or so I assume from their giving away the NDA.)

I hope it costs them; I'm insulted by proxy.


I'm insulted behind SEVEN proxies.

// you'll never know how insulted I am
// dad works in chemical patents - much harder to troll
// "Ah! Your carboxyl group looks the same as mine, and sticking out of that hydrocarbon like that is a HALLMARK of my work!! You swine!"
 
2011-08-10 11:25:24 AM  
I feel like I personally contributed to this win.
 
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