Nebraska Attorney General Sued For Trying To Stop Patent Troll
from the patent-trolls-getting-aggressive dept
Earlier this year, we noted that Vermont had declared war on patent trolls, arguing that patent trolling violated state consumer protection laws (and then passing a further law against patent trolling). More recently, the state of Minnesota made it clear that patent trolls aren’t welcome there either. Nebraska’s Attorney General Jon Bruning has tried a similar strategy, sending a cease-and-desist to at least one patent troll for violating state consumer protection laws and speaking out against patent trolls.
Activision TV (who appears to be unrelated to video gaming company Activision), using patents like US Patent 7,369,058 and US Patent 8,330,613 relating to digital displays, has been demanding license fees from a variety of companies. Bruning stepped in to let Activision and its lawyers know that they needed to cease and desist and were potentially violating Nebraska law, by using “false, misleading or deceptive statements” in seeking licensing fees. The letter also notes that this may be a form of “baseless harassment” and that the demands for licensing letters “serve to advance no valid legal purpose.”
In response, it appears Activision has decided to get even more aggressive. As reader Nate sent in, Activision turned around and sued Bruning and some of his colleagues, arguing that he unfairly referred to them as a “patent troll” without doing a thorough investigation first. The filing, embedded below, is quite long, but goes on and on and on (and on and on — making you wonder if Activision’s lawyers get paid per word) about how unfair it is to be labeled a patent troll. It also argues that Bruning is attempting to stifle their First Amendment rights (along with their Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights as well). Apparently they believe that shaking a company down for “licensing” fees is protected speech.
Reading the lawsuit and comparing it to the letter that Bruning sent, it appears like a massive overreach by Activision — and while I have my issues with how states’ attorneys general will often act, this actually appears to be a legitimate case of trying to stop the aggressive use of questionable patents to demand money from lots of different companies.