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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 »)
 


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2011-08-10 5:28:09 PM  
That's great news, Drew!

So does this mean you're going to spend less time checking into the Fark Satellite Office at Chase Tap Room on Facebook, and more time doing actual work?
 
2011-08-10 5:31:34 PM  
Awesome!

Drew scores a victory against those Gooseberry pukes, this thread turns into a celebration of sorts, and that one whiner continues to make himself look whiny.

I love it, I love it, I love it.

Heartiest congrats to Drew and company - cheers!
 
2011-08-10 5:33:10 PM  

markie_farkie: That's great news, Drew!

So does this mean you're going to spend less time checking into the Fark Satellite Office at Chase Tap Room on Facebook, and more time doing actual work?


I don't know what this means, but I like it.

;)

P.S. Thanks, Drew. Protect me too.
 
2011-08-10 6:40:55 PM  
Good, fark those guys.
 
2011-08-10 6:59:03 PM  

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.


Or, perhaps, some soiled condoms.
 
2011-08-10 7:03:09 PM  
Hey you guys from Gooseberry Natural Resources:
i483.photobucket.comView Full Size
 
2011-08-10 7:03:57 PM  
YAY for Drew & the Team Fark!
 
2011-08-10 7:06:59 PM  
well done Drew & Legal Team Fark .
i483.photobucket.comView Full Size

 
2011-08-10 7:16:20 PM  
I submitted this with a better headline.
 
2011-08-10 7:16:25 PM  
Well done Drew. Also: they're douchenozzles, not douchebags.
 
2011-08-10 7:22:46 PM  
I really, really wish there were more risks for patent trolls. There's practically zero.

Also, why can't patents be regulated like the FDA does food and ICANN (or whoever) does domains?

Have a complaint- file it with the patent office. They take a few days with minimal government money to determine if the patent is very, very, very obviously being infringed upon. And "infringed" shouldn't be vague... it should be a nearly direct copy. Like if I copied all of the functionality of MS Word and tried to sell it.
 
2011-08-10 7:24:15 PM  
As someone who fights against patent trolls damned near every day, I say bravo to you and your law firm, sir. I've seen zero dollar settlements before, but usually not this early in the litigation and not without an NDA to let the troll quietly run away with its tail between its legs.

Please don't trademark your settlement offer. I plan to steal use that line someday.
 
2011-08-10 7:26:50 PM  
Why didn't reddit/fark/aol/yahoo and others who were sued form some type of committee or coalition (build a warchest) to defend against it?

I'm really surprised more large "social" websites don't get together and fight against these types of patent trolls. They just pick you off one by one.

Also you all need to get together and run a high quality ad service so no more bad ads and malware.
 
2011-08-10 7:29:37 PM  
Drew has balls of adamantium. Massive amount of respect.
 
2011-08-10 7:32:14 PM  
Oh, what a relief! This is most excellent news. What a bunch of scum-sucking lowlifes. May they all be stricken with a fungal infection of the peehole. For starters.
 
2011-08-10 7:34:12 PM  

Theaetetus: Hey, I would, too... There are certainly areas that are ripe for reform, and a bunch of things that could be improved, and I could give you a laundry list of suggestions. But, that doesn't mean the whole system should be thrown out, like some people suggest (although, usually, they don't argue to scrap the entire patent system... just certain areas that they work in, like software, which should indicate that they may have ulterior motives).


Sorry, I have to disagree with you. It does the opposite of what its intended to do- protect the little guy.

In this case (and MANY others), the little guy is being sued by the big guy. Reason being if they can put the beatdown on the little guy (or a few little guys)... they have ammo to go after the other big guys.

Also there's this total BS that isn't generally present in trademark law where you can be forced to pay up on past profits even if they don't prove you knowingly infringed.

I say put a cap on the percentage of future profit (not revenue) from an infringing piece of software or site. Make it manditory to offer said license.

Now- if you do prove someone knowingly infringed on a patent and outwardly said they didn't care... yeah, go after all the money you want.
 
2011-08-10 7:42:08 PM  

Theaetetus: But, that doesn't mean the whole system should be thrown out, like some people suggest (although, usually, they don't argue to scrap the entire patent system... just certain areas that they work in, like software, which should indicate that they may have ulterior motives).


I say scrap it entirely. Let people build whatever they want while not infringing on trademarks and copyrights. Let the market decide who's the best.

You can keep most things a secret as to how they work anyway. Like not releasing your source code in the software world.

I should be able to offer a better word processor without fear that Microsoft is going to kill me with patent issues. Let me compete with them. (Not a great example, as no one is going to beat MS Word- but you get the point.)

Patents are anti-competitive.
 
2011-08-10 7:42:30 PM  
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2011-08-10 8:51:49 PM  
I continue to applaud Drew for having balls and enforcing his anti-dumbass agenda.
 
2011-08-10 8:58:38 PM  
GO DREW!

About time someone stood up to one of these scummy gangs of rent-seekers.
 
2011-08-10 9:42:56 PM  
i didnt realize fringe was in again .... it was so late 80's

/good news all around
 
2011-08-10 9:54:59 PM  
grats Drew
 
2011-08-10 9:58:16 PM  
Congrats Drew & legal team! Thanks for saving Fark!! :)
 
2011-08-10 10:02:49 PM  
YOU: lawsuit may habe for me, BUT I: HABE JACK SHIAT FOR YOU HA

Consider my re-up of TF for another year a gift of congratulations and gratitude.
 
2011-08-10 10:10:48 PM  
Oh and......

MY FIVE A MONTH FINALLY DID SOMETHING OF SIGNIFICANCE!
 
2011-08-10 10:37:55 PM  

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


It was a trademark issue.. And unlike the guy that claimed 'Edge' and tried to troll Mirror's Edge, etc, Bethesda is actually using 'Scrolls'. (Kind of). Not that Bethesda is right, or that they'd even stand a chance of winning, but they're not trolls.
 
2011-08-10 10:48:14 PM  

downstairs: Sorry, I have to disagree with you. It does the opposite of what its intended to do- protect the little guy.


[load Constitution] [control-f] "Little Guy"

Sorry, what? I think you've been fed a load of naive bullshiat that has nothing to do with our country, Constitution, or economic system.
 
2011-08-10 10:49:03 PM  

downstairs: You can keep most things a secret as to how they work anyway. Like not releasing your source code in the software world.


Also, anyone who says "patents should be abolished, we should return to the wonderful era of trade secrets" is either evil, or a total idiot.
 
2011-08-10 10:52:44 PM  
Saw you mentioned on the front of TPM.com. Congrats Drew & Fark Legal! Great work!
 
2011-08-10 11:12:38 PM  
Yeah, Drew! You were already my hero, but my respect for you continues to grow. Thanks for the giving us this sandbox to kick around in.
 
2011-08-10 11:18:42 PM  
cool, the self appointed funny pope showed up. ho hum
 
2011-08-10 11:22:45 PM  

Theaetetus: downstairs: Sorry, I have to disagree with you. It does the opposite of what its intended to do- protect the little guy.

[load Constitution] [control-f] "Little Guy"

Sorry, what? I think you've been fed a load of naive bullshiat that has nothing to do with our country, Constitution, or economic system.


Ummmm no, I've dealt with it personally. And I understand the constitution and economic system just fine. Most frivolous patent lawsuits and threats involve the big guy going after the little guy. The whole purpose of patents- the base concept of which you may have forgotten in your career as a patent attorney- is to protect an inventor with minimal or no capital against a company with nearly unlimited capital. Not sure what you do for a living but whatever it is you no longer realize that's been reversed
 
2011-08-10 11:26:49 PM  

Theaetetus: downstairs: You can keep most things a secret as to how they work anyway. Like not releasing your source code in the software world.

Also, anyone who says "patents should be abolished, we should return to the wonderful era of trade secrets" is either evil, or a total idiot.


Explain. Im seriously curious. As the "small guy" all patents do is add massive risk to what I create. I can't possibly afford to know what patents im infringing on. The whole purpose of patents could be better achieved through trademark, copyright, and trade secrets.
 
2011-08-10 11:30:28 PM  

downstairs: Most frivolous patent lawsuits and threats involve the big guy going after the little guy.


Yeah, that's why we talk about "patent trolls" as giant megacorporations who go after poor humble individuals like Intellectual Ventures or TechSearch. If only those companies could be protected from the "big guy," namely Google, Microsoft, or Apple.

You, sir, clearly have your finger on the pulse of the industry. Or in the ass. One of those. The point is that whatever it is, your finger is in there.
 
2011-08-10 11:33:30 PM  
A better response would simply be to fire all the morons that allow patents of existing thongs and methods. Like really USA a patent on swing side to side instead of forward and back? Fark you to hell you stupid bastards that allow that shiat
 
2011-08-10 11:37:19 PM  
farm7.static.flickr.comView Full Size


Where's these guys when you need them? We need a new-gen, version 2.0 of them after these patent troll assholes. Awesome outcome, Drew. Hopefully, one day, the real patent cases will see the light of day and not these troll bastards.

/great reply to them, btw
 
2011-08-10 11:39:33 PM  

Theaetetus: downstairs: Most frivolous patent lawsuits and threats involve the big guy going after the little guy.

Yeah, that's why we talk about "patent trolls" as giant megacorporations who go after poor humble individuals like Intellectual Ventures or TechSearch. If only those companies could be protected from the "big guy," namely Google, Microsoft, or Apple.

You, sir, clearly have your finger on the pulse of the industry. Or in the ass. One of those. The point is that whatever it is, your finger is in there.


Do you want multiple examples? Yes ... the big guys go after the little guys first to establish prescient and the like. If you seriously deal in the world of patent law you must not be very aware of what goes on in your industry.
 
2011-08-11 12:37:41 AM  
Ethics complaint to the troll's jurisdiction's ethics enforcing body. 'Nuff said.
 
2011-08-11 1:16:35 AM  
There is a reason why one should NEVER agree to any sort of NDA in any lawsuit. Even if you were forced to, ignore it like it never existed. Personally, I would like to see it made illegal to make any NDA part of any settlement. It it is filed with the court, then there can not be an NDA permitted.
 
2011-08-11 2:35:16 AM  

wegro: I submitted this with a better headline.


why you no has TF, WHY?
 
2011-08-11 3:26:42 AM  
I'm going to patent congratulating Drew on his victory.
 
2011-08-11 3:52:14 AM  
Man, spend a couple of days off Fark due to a high workload and I miss this? Fuuuu...

Congrats, Drew, and great job. I wish you had won the right to shove a red-hot fireplace poker up the opposing party's ass, though...
 
2011-08-11 4:08:33 AM  

nutkick_42: /Gongrats


ratpictures.netView Full Size

ratpictures.netView Full Size

ratpictures.netView Full Size


Well played sir. FARK THE POWER.
 
2011-08-11 4:12:49 AM  
now, that just deserves conga rats on your cheesemint

/terrible, i know
 
2011-08-11 5:28:59 AM  

Theaetetus: downstairs: You can keep most things a secret as to how they work anyway. Like not releasing your source code in the software world. Also, anyone who says "patents should be abolished, we should return to the wonderful era of trade secrets" is either evil, or a total idiot.


What's the matter? Rent-seeking not paying as well as it used to?
 
2011-08-11 6:40:55 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.


Or the offer of a Guinness bar towel.
 
2011-08-11 7:24:15 AM  
Drew kicks puppies in the head.
 
2011-08-11 9:37:13 AM  

downstairs: Do you want multiple examples? Yes ... the big guys go after the little guys first to establish prescient and the like. If you seriously deal in the world of patent law you must not be very aware of what goes on in your industry.


Yeah, that's it. I must not be aware of the prescient that's been set.
 
2011-08-11 10:17:20 AM  

ParallelUniverseParking: well done Drew & Legal Team Fark .
[i483.photobucket.com image 336x420]


[threadjack]
I recognize Tom Waits, but what is this from?
[/threadjack]
 
2011-08-11 12:07:39 PM  

Theaetetus: downstairs: Do you want multiple examples? Yes ... the big guys go after the little guys first to establish prescient and the like. If you seriously deal in the world of patent law you must not be very aware of what goes on in your industry.

Yeah, that's it. I must not be aware of the prescient that's been set.


My Android spellcheck is goofy at times. Precedent is what I meant. Why not address the content of what I said rather than the typos?
 
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