A few months back, we discovered the blog of an anonymous IP lawyer called The Patent Troll Tracker
. It had great info, and you've probably noticed that we're now linking to stories from that site on a fairly regular basis. Sometime before we became aware of the site however, the Troll Tracker got into a little scuffle with a bigshot patent attorney, Raymond Niro of the law firm Niro, Scavone. The Mises Institute has a recap of the situation
, but basically the Troll Tracker had mentioned Niro in a way that Niro felt was unflattering, and Niro asked the Troll Tracker to identify himself -- not, apparently, for a defamation charge, but for patent infringement
. How could a blog post (unflattering or not) be considered patent infringement? Apparently, the patent in question, owned by Acacia (who, you may recall is considered the worst patent system offender
by the EFF), can be interpreted to mean that posting a JPG image to your site is infringement. It also happens that Niro is the patent attorney who has filed some of Acacia's patent infringement lawsuits, including against the Green Bay Packers for violating this same patent. Apparently, Niro also used the same claim of patent infringement against well-known patent critic Gregory Aharonian
. It's an interesting twist on patent infringement cases to use an incredibly broad patent that covers "posting a JPEG to a website" to basically go after anyone you don't like. Somehow, I doubt that's what the founders of the patent system had in mind. Hell, I'd guess that it's not what anyone who had any part in writing patent laws had in mind.
Of course, Niro has run into something of a problem in trying to sue the anonymous Troll Tracker. It's that anonymity bit. So, apparently, he's now put out a $5,000 bounty to anyone who can identify the Troll Tracker
. Law.com has more details on this as well as some other odd moves by Niro
. Who knows if he will actually sue (though, the earlier stories suggest it's not out of the realm of possibility), but it's stunning that a bigshot patent attorney would be so afraid of an anonymous critic of patent system misuse that he not only would threaten him with patent infringement claims on such an incredibly broad patent, but also is willing to put up $5,000 just to find out the guy's identity. Yes, this is what our patent system has been reduced to. Thomas Jefferson is rolling
in his grave.