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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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18055 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 1:32:20 PM  
Congrats, Drew and crew! A free day for freedom-loving free-people everyfree!
 
2011-08-10 1:34:01 PM  
Congrats!!!

Good news.
 
2011-08-10 1:36:13 PM  

Theaetetus: 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.


I'll admit I was already biased going into it. Guess I was primed to be uncritical of the story after hearing so much about it from an old college buddy that works in the software division of the US patent office. Get a couple beers in him and he will rage about patents that never should have been awarded and the whole trolling issue.
 
2011-08-10 1:42:00 PM  

JackieRabbit: 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.


*checks profile*

Well... you're not new here... what's your excuse?
 
2011-08-10 1:44:26 PM  

tsalaroth: Well... you're not new here... what's your excuse?


Friggin aspies!
 
2011-08-10 1:45:56 PM  
This far in and no ha-ha guy...
 
2011-08-10 1:46:10 PM  

Monkeylint: Theaetetus: 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.

I'll admit I was already biased going into it. Guess I was primed to be uncritical of the story after hearing so much about it from an old college buddy that works in the software division of the US patent office. Get a couple beers in him and he will rage about patents that never should have been awarded and the whole trolling issue.


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).

Disclaimer: I'm a patent attorney and I worked for NPR for almost a decade. There are a lot of really good people there, and a whole lot of really lazy people who think cutting and pasting quotes from people on opposite sides of the story = journalism. Originally, it was kowtowing to criticism by Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" and "Journalists shouldn't be part of the story, they should just be masters of ceremony" rhetoric, but over the years, the young reporters got trained to believe that's how it was supposed to be done.
 
2011-08-10 1:48:32 PM  
i796.photobucket.comView Full Size
 
2011-08-10 1:49:05 PM  
img827.imageshack.usView Full Size
 
2011-08-10 1:50:57 PM  
T-Boy 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.

Dude, down. I meant no disrespect. Did somebody piss in your Wheaties this morning? Chill.
 
2011-08-10 1:52:50 PM  
great news! For a minute there i was worried about our circlejerks
 
2011-08-10 1:53:15 PM  
I'm kinda surprised there hasn't been a 4chan style attack on the guy that owns Gooseberry... I mean seriously, what a d*ck.
 
2011-08-10 1:54:05 PM  
Hmmm... with a "Fark is Counter-Suing Patent Troll" button, I would have given a twenty to the cause.
 
433 [TotalFark]
2011-08-10 1:56:08 PM  
I'm glad that worked out as well as it did.
I'm reminded of the Fox News station affiliate guy that made a few awful subs, asked about the site design, then tried some feeble hacking,
 
2011-08-10 1:56:26 PM  
You got over it.
 
2011-08-10 2:01:08 PM  
Congrats to Drew and the rest of the FARK crew. Spurious bullshiat needs to be called what it is: spurious goddammitsomuch bullshiat.

I'm glad to hear that standing up for what's right instead of settling because it's convenience is still alive and well.

Again, big grats.
 
2011-08-10 2:02:59 PM  
i54.tinypic.comView Full Size
 
2011-08-10 2:13:09 PM  
"How about jack sh*t and go f*ck yourself".


Censored or uncensored, put this on a T-shirt underneath a photo of our beloved mascot. I'd wear it proudly.

Gratz, Drew
 
2011-08-10 2:14:29 PM  
Great moments in negotiation history:

2) Michael Corleone to Senator Geary: "My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally."

1) Drew Curtis to Patent Troll: "how about jack sh*t and go f*ck yourself."
 
2011-08-10 2:15:39 PM  
Good on ya Drew. I would say I'd buy you a beer, but you owed me a beer already, so go get yourself a beer. (Not like I needed to say that)
 
2011-08-10 2:16:13 PM  

RussianPooper: My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.


Ah, I see you beat me to it. Shoulda checked first.
 
2011-08-10 2:17:30 PM  

the_sidewinder: That's not a patent troll, that's a trademark troll


kill it anyway
 
2011-08-10 2:22:22 PM  
Salute.
 
2011-08-10 2:22:46 PM  

Peaceboy: RussianPooper: My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.

Ah, I see you beat me to it. Shoulda checked first.


Next step, Patent Troll wakes up covered in blood with a dead prostitute in a massage parlor.
 
2011-08-10 2:23:03 PM  
Words.

+1 Drew, +1.

;)
 
2011-08-10 2:23:56 PM  
w0000t! Thanks for fighting the good fight. Wishing you a boobie-filled future.
 
2011-08-10 2:23:56 PM  
Theaetetus: "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."

That's a far cry from an actual opposition system. (e.g. Australia, EPO)

GQueue: "The problem is this is much harder to monitor than trademarks."

Harder, but not insurmountable. Class/subclass allows things to be narrowed down. And examiner group narrows it down further.
And given that we're pretty much only talking about software/process, there simply aren't that many relevant publications hitting every Thursday.

Again, a couple months to submit prior art to the examiner who (unfortunately) probably isn't spending as much time as they'd like on the prior art already submitted, is a far cry from a proper opposition system.
 
2011-08-10 2:26:40 PM  

RussianPooper: Next step, Patent Troll wakes up covered in blood with a dead prostitute in a massage parlor.


Fortunately for Patent Troll, that girl has no family, nobody knows she works there. It'll be as if she never existed.
 
2011-08-10 2:32:24 PM  
Well done, Drew & Associates(c)!
 
2011-08-10 2:38:24 PM  

GQueue: Instead of a counterclaim, if you wanted to fark with these guys and maybe get their patent invalidated but not spend millions, and you know the "tons of prior art" that's out there, you could always do an ex parte reexamination request. That'd cost way less -- lawyer fees for preparing the reexam request, and the PTO fee for filing it.



Or I could just write up the reexam OA and submit it to central reexam unit. Save Drew all that money.

The reason I didn't do it initially is because I don't understand all the ins and outs of litigation. For example, a defense might not want a reexam done, because a reexam may strengthen the validity of a patent. After my initial reexam OA, I would have nothing to do with the case. Though the reexam guys are generally more knowledgeable than the average examiner, so I wouldn't worry too much.
 
2011-08-10 2:38:29 PM  
i2.photobucket.comView Full Size


You there, computer man, good jorb!

Patent trolls!
i2.photobucket.comView Full Size
 
2011-08-10 2:52:22 PM  

Inflatable Rhetoric: 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.


I work for a company where the policy is "never settle, fight everything."

It keeps the trolls away.
 
2011-08-10 2:55:16 PM  
After all, when's the last time you saw a patent lawsuit settled for zero dollars?

Naturally, the answer is "I don't know, I rarely know the terms". And neither do you.
 
2011-08-10 3:01:23 PM  

tsalaroth: Well... you're not new here... what's your excuse?


I'm just slow. ;) Christ, do you know how often I have to go to the urban dictionary to get a definition of something I see here? Fark has a lot of subtleties.
 
2011-08-10 3:21:17 PM  
i.imgur.comView Full Size


Anyone else want to negotiate?

 
2011-08-10 3:22:02 PM  
Awesome news of the day. Let's move on now.
 
2011-08-10 3:39:22 PM  
Unfortunately, I hold the patent for creating Internet User Names and I'm suing all of you.
 
2011-08-10 3:49:46 PM  
I'd just like to say:

Patent trolls can gargle sweaty squirrel nutsacks.

That is all.
 
2011-08-10 3:50:26 PM  
Congrats Drew.

I'm filing for a patent on patent trolling right now, gonna sue these bastards.
 
2011-08-10 3:52:52 PM  

Theaetetus: 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


And this list begins with "stop fee diversion." It's farking ridiculous that patent applicants pay all these fees and the PTO doesn't get to keep all of them for their budget. So much could be helped by the PTO being able to have sufficient examiners and give them enough time to examine applications.
 
2011-08-10 3:55:20 PM  
congratulations Drew, you hillybilly motha!!!
 
2011-08-10 4:03:37 PM  
4.bp.blogspot.comView Full Size


You'll get nothing and like it!
 
2011-08-10 4:05:08 PM  
Congrats Drew, really glad to hear this news.
 
2011-08-10 4:10:34 PM  

tsalaroth: JackieRabbit: 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.

*checks profile*

Well... you're not new here... what's your excuse?



is the average poster on fark privy to the rotsky or really that stupid? it's an admittedly a tough call.
 
2011-08-10 4:18:59 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


That's more like trademark trolling, since "Oblivion: The Elder Scrolls," as a title for a work, would be covered under trademark law.

But even so, one would hope that the judge would say to any potential plaintiff, and I pre-quote in hopes that a judge says more or less exactly this: "The only people who would confuse two computer games just because both have the word "scrolls" in the title are idiots like you."
 
2011-08-10 4:19:50 PM  

Hella Fark: is Is the average poster on fark FARK privy privvy to the an rotsky or really that stupid?


FTFY
Free range peeve
 
2011-08-10 4:27:34 PM  
Sorry I'm late to the thread. I just heard the news. Congrats(exclamation point)
 
2011-08-10 4:32:07 PM  
Drew,

Good on you.

Jon
 
2011-08-10 4:45:43 PM  
This is wonderful news. Here's hoping that many more patent trolls get absolutely nothing.
 
2011-08-10 5:16:08 PM  

danny_kay: 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"


saddly, most people don't know how explosive the fiber community is when it comes to copyright, trademarks, and C&D letters.

/thinking of the girl from auntie and the she who must not be named saga
 
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