Troll Tracker Sued For Defamatation By Patent Attorneys In East Texas

from the you-knew-that-was-coming... dept

Just this morning we were lamenting the fact that the formerly anonymous Patent Troll Tracker had shut down his blog, but now we know why. It appears that two patent attorneys in East Texas have sued him and Cisco for defamation. One of the attorneys happens to also be the son of the judge who helped make Marshall, Texas famous as a favorite for patent holders. The details on the case suggest that this lawsuit may have been the reason that Rick Frenkel outed himself, as it was actually filed back in November and used as a way to unmask the Troll Tracker.

The defamation claim is based on a post that Frenkel put up back in October, which we wrote about. It involved the fact that the Texas lawyers in question had filed a patent lawsuit against Cisco in Texas, the day before the actual patent was issued (which you're not supposed to do). In response, Cisco (perhaps Frenkel himself) had quickly filed for a declaratory judgment in Connecticut. Later on, the date on the original filing in Texas was changed, a fact that Frenkel found quite questionable. No matter what, that case was eventually dismissed entirely -- but the lawyers in question are still suing both him and Cisco for defamation. Cisco, I'd imagine, isn't thrilled about the whole situation, but one would hope execs there are reasonable enough not to punish Frenkel for this. It would be great if lawyers could weigh in on the defamation claim. The links above have most of the text being used in the defamation claim, and I'm struggling to figure out what's actually defamatory about it. There doesn't seem to be anything that would count as defamation at all. Even if there is some defamation in there somewhere, it's also difficult to see how Cisco could be found responsible for the speech. Even though Frenkel worked at Cisco, he clearly did not post the story as a representative of Cisco, and was quite careful to point to other sources that had reported the news first (i.e., not using internal Cisco info). Anyone know if Texas has a SLAPP law in place?

Filed Under: anonymity, blogs, defamation, patents, texas, troll tracker
Companies: cisco


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  1. identicon
    Anon, 13 Mar 2008 @ 10:12am

    The personal attacks aside, Angry Dude is absolutely right. What Frenkel did was wrong for 2 reasons.

    First, he used his anonymous platform to give what his readers were to believe was a supposedly objective, third party opinion when he was not an objective, third party. At the least, this was deceitful to his readers.

    Second, as a lawyer, he is paid to spot issues and avoid trouble for his client. I don't know the internal workings of Cisco, but I'm guessing part of his job responsibilities were to develop policy intended to keep Cisco from getting sued. His not seeing that speaking out as he did could get Cisco in trouble was ignorance, arrogance or both.

    The same applies to his manager. Once his manager knew he was the Troll Tracker, his manager had an obligation to Cisco to at least put a policy in place where Frenkel would not act in a way that could get Cisco in hot water. If such a policy was in place, and the manager didn't know of Frenkel's speaking out against attorney Ward, then I agree Cisco should have no liability. Otherwise, the manager is culpable as well.

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