Patent Lawsuit So Bogus That The Judge Ordered Sanctions And Attorney's Fees Paid

from the about-time dept

There are an awful lot of bogus patent lawsuits out there, but even when the lawsuits are tossed out it's very, very rare for a judge to order the plaintiffs to pay the legal fees of the defendants. However, in Illinois it just happened. Joe Mullin has the story of a patent that was quite clearly limited to an infrared camera linked to a GPS system. The patent examiner required the inventor to include the word "infrared" before declaring the patent acceptable and non-obvious. Yet, that didn't stop the patent holder from suing LG, Pantech and Disney for the Disney mobile phone service that let parents track where their kids were. The product was a huge commercial failure, but those are three big companies worth suing for infringement.

However, the judge noted, sternly, that the patent holder and the law firm that was handling the case (which had also worked on the patent) clearly decided to ignore what the patent actually said about it being for infrared cameras. This practice is more common than it should be. Even when claims are written to be narrowly focused, there's always some wiggle room, and many patent holders bring lawsuits on technologies that are pretty far from what's in the claims -- usually hoping that the accused will settle rather than take the issue to court. In this case, though, the judge pointed out that it was clearly a frivolous lawsuit, and ordered the defendants get reasonable costs and attorneys' fees. If this happened more often, maybe we'd see fewer ridiculous patent lawsuits.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 4:21pm

    ITS ABOUT DAMN TIME, time to pass this along to the RIAA!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Him ThatIs, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 4:22pm

    ...and lo and behold; there arouse a light in the darkness annunciating the birth of justice in the unlawful land.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Mr Big Content, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 4:34pm

    Not Fair

    Just doesn't seem right. The guy put in so much effort into coming with his idea and patenting it. And then he gets diddled out of his income just because the infringers are doing something a little different, that's not covered by his patent!

    This is why the patent system needs strengthening! People shouldn't be able to get out of paying you for your ideas just by coming up with their own ideas! If this were allowed to continue, who would continue to bother to think up new ideas?

     

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  4.  
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    Trails (profile), Dec 8th, 2008 @ 4:35pm

    Should have

    Should have been ordered to reimburse the court for cost to taxpayers imo.

     

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  5.  
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    DarkLord, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Not Fair

    Holy shit MBC... I hope you are being sarcastic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Re: Not Fair

    DarkLord you need to get off the Internet RIGHT NOW.

    If you couldn't tell FROM THE NAME ALONE that it was going to be satirical you have no hope of ever contributing anything useful ever simply due to lack of comprehension.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 5:18pm

    What are the odds that Triune Star will ever pay.

     

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  8.  
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    Stephen Downes (profile), Dec 8th, 2008 @ 6:06pm

    Actually, all this will do is limit the frivolous lawsuits to companies that are large enough to afford risking the costs.

     

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  9.  
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    JC, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 6:41pm

    Not gonna make a dent

    Until the LAWYERS start having the pay the fees, PERSONALLY, they'll go right on filing BS lawsuits. Why not? They get paid either way. That's the great thing about the system they've set up. No matter what they do, no matter how unethical, they still get paid. Who overlooks the lawyers? The bar and judges, who all happen to be lawyers. Funny how that works out. Strange how sanctions against lawyers are _incredibly_ rare, no matter how horrid their actions. CYA, folks, CYA.

     

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  10.  
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    Vincent Clement, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 7:15pm

    Big Deal

    For this to have any impact, a judge in Marshall, Texas would have to point out a frivolous lawsuit and then order the defendants get reasonable costs and attorneys' fees. But patents lawsuits are the bread and butter of the East District, so it's unlikely to happen.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Not gonna make a dent

    This will increase the docket at the East District in Marshall, Texas.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Willton, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 10:07pm

    Re:

    ITS ABOUT DAMN TIME, time to pass this along to the RIAA!

    They don't file patent lawsuits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Chris in Utah, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 11:08pm

    Imagine a world.

    Imagine a world where at the international level made it a crime to hoard any information or product benificial to the people. Then go one further and imagine the resources at a scientist fingers on a worldly scale. 100 trillion not in war but progressive thinking... who would want to live in a world like that? hmmmmm.

    History has proven great minds think alike, its about f'n time we do something about it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    DarkLord, Dec 8th, 2008 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not Fair

    Ahem.

    Maybe it's you who need the reality check. In the real world where I live, people like that DO exist. For every issue that seems completely wrong and injust, there will be at least a small group of people who support it for any number of reasons.

    And yes, they too have access to the Internet. If they didn't, there wouldn't be so damn many 9/11 conspiracy blogs out there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Dec 9th, 2008 @ 5:15am

    Infrared Qualifies as a Patenatable concept?

    "The Prior Arts" writes "Triune Star owns patent 6,122,521, which covers a camera with a GPS locator in it. But it only covers infrared cameras, a limitiation that the patent examiner insisted on adding in order to grant a patent..

    Again we have, I believe, a misapplication of patent law. How is linking an infrared camera to a GPS system different from a camera based on normal light?

    The only difference to my knowledge is that infrared light is of a different frequency that regular light. You may need different sensors. because of the light frequency, but how you would "talk" to the GPS would seem to remain the same. So where is the innovation that would qualify it as patentable?

     

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  16.  
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    dinnerbell, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 6:23am

    stop the shilling!!!

    unsupported patent suits by small entities is rare exactly for the reason you report...sanctions. Most small entities can barely scrape together enough cash to sue, let alone pay potential sanctions so they chose very carefully. When a law firm takes a case on contingency you can bet your ass they do so very cautiously. If you had ever been through it, you would know better. Ignorance is bliss.

    What occurs far more often is patentees cannot raise the cash to sue so infringers are able to flaunt their theft.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    DanC, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 8:40am

    Re: stop the shilling!!!

    What occurs far more often is patentees cannot raise the cash to sue so infringers are able to flaunt their theft.

    Nice to see that you still haven't managed to get past the "small innocent inventor" vs. "big evil corporation" myth yet. Take your own advice - stop shilling.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 11:07am

    Re: Imagine a world.

    Sounds like a socialist utopia... Perfect project for Obama Bin Ladin. The land of the anit-christ and the home of the ignorantly opressed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 7:14pm

    "When a law firm takes a case on contingency you can bet your ass they do so very cautiously."

    I guess that means this was not contingency based.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Quantity Surveyor Man, Dec 9th, 2008 @ 7:37pm

    Adopt Gowachin law!

    As explained in The Dosadi Experiment by Frank Herbert:

    The are obsessed with law, but their forms and procedures are quite the opposite of those in contemporary America. The whole purpose and premise of legal practice is the avoidance of litigation. If a tort must be tried, the event takes place in a Court-Arena, and the losing lawyer is executed by the winner. This system ensures that only life-or-death issues reach trial. It also guarantees that lawyers remain few.

    http://www.seablogger.com/?p=233

    That will minimize the crap, and provide a whole new world of reality TV shows!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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