More Lawyers Want To Get The Troll Tracker In Court

from the shutting-up-a-valuable-voice dept

Last month, we noted that Rick Frenkel, who for months had been the anonymous "Troll Tracker," was being sued for defamation for some of the posts on his blog. Now, it appears that another set of patent attorneys that Frenkel wrote about are trying to get him into court. This concerned the rather infamous case of a patent attorney at a large law firm who got his own patents, and then used them to sue companies who were clients of his own firm for patent infringement. The lawyer in question, Scott Harris, is represented by Niro Scavone, who was another target of Frenkel and whose named partner not only proudly claims that the term "patent troll" was based on him, but also put out a bounty to anyone who could identify the Troll Tracker.

So why is Frenkel being dragged into the Harris case? Apparently Harris and his lawyers are trying to build a big conspiracy theory around Frenkel. Because Frenkel worked at Cisco, and Harris' former employer (Fish & Richardson) did work for Cisco, Frenkel's blog posts really were just a big plot to help out Fish & Richardson while devaluing Harris' patents. That sounds pretty far-fetched by any stretch of the imagination, and would require an awful lot of proof. But, what's most likely really happening is that the folks that Frenkel helped shed some light on are now taking advantage of the situation to drag him into court whenever and however possible.

This is quite tragic for a variety of reasons. No matter what one thinks of Frenkel's anonymity while working for Cisco, you cannot deny that he brought to light many of the shadier tactics being used by patent hoarding firms, often hiding behind shell corporation names and suing many companies at once. Since Frenkel stopped blogging, many of those stories are remaining underground. No one has stepped into the void, unfortunately, perhaps afraid that they, too, will become targets in various lawsuits. The information that Frenkel was bringing to light (while potentially biased by his position at Cisco) did help point a light at some questionable activities that had been hidden for far too long.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Joe Smith, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 6:09am

    double or nothing

    If Harris did buy patents and then sue his own firm's clients this strategy is just going to make things worse for him.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 6:10am

    I imagine most lawyers dont become lawyers by choice.

    The system needs more people like Rick who see the issues for what they are: instead of maintaining the status quo, and identify the issues for what they are.

    Visibility to the real issues is how change occurs.

     

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  3.  
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    angry dude, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 7:10am

    poor clueless techdirt lemmings

    Heck, do you guys really believe that "Patent Troll Tracker" blog was a sole undertaking of poor little Rick Frenkel ???
    Just give me a freaking break

    Mark Chandler, Cisco's senior legal VP and Rick's boss used some of those PTT blog articles while campaining on patent "reform" down in Wash DC
    Do you really believe that he didn't consult Rick on at least some of those "articles" ?

    Now, Rick made a crucial mistake: being a senior corporate legal councel in charge of that partucular ongoing litigation against his corporate employer (ESN vs Cisco) he dared to post some outrageous lies about the opposing party's legal counsels, accusing them of gross misconduct (he made a statement in his blog implying that those attorneys conspired with EDT court clerk and falsified court filing dates)

    "Thou shalt not steal"
    "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour"
    Amen

     

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  4.  
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    Joe Smith, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 7:30am

    Re: poor clueless techdirt lemmings

    The fact is that the filing was re-dated and the result was that an invalid law suit became valid. The Court says that it was just the correction of a clerical error - it still looks darn bad and deserved some raised eyebrows and skeptical comments.

    Whether or not other people at Cisco had some input into the blog does not change the facts with respect to Harris: either Harris bought patents and sued the clients of the firm where he was a partner or he did not. If you believe in the existence and importance of objective reality that is the issue around Harris.

    If I were Cisco and I found out that a partner at my law firm was suing me for patents he had acquired for his own account I would pursue a scorched earth policy against the lawyer and the law firm. But that's just me - you might be a milder mannered and more forgiving and moderate personality.

     

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  5.  
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    angry dude, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 7:41am

    screw Cisco

    "If I were Cisco ... I would pursue a scorched earth policy..."

    Perhaps you should know that "scorched earth" litigation is the only policy Cisco has towards those outside inventors and smaller tech companies asserting their valid patents against Cisco

    Sort of: "We respect intellectual property of others, but your patent happens to be invalid, not infinged, unenforceable and btw, we don't even want to read you farking patent"
    Yep, that would be Rick and his Cisco bosses

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 7:49am

    Re: screw Cisco

    Angrydude, who cares if he profits from his patent troll outings? We ALL stand to profit from that.
    Now if he is a liar, that is another story. Thats got quite a hefty burden of proof, though.

     

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  7.  
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    BlowURmindBowel, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 12:08pm

    angry dude isn't constrained by pesky concepts like "proof"

    Thus allowing him to explore the far reaching possibilities that being an "angry dude" allows...

    Unfortunately for him, his cosmic journey through the "joys of the angry" appear to the rest of us as if he is just being an asshat.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 1:51pm

    The only thought that comes to mind is that if what has been published is true then there are some very dumb people out there.

    It should be obvious to any half ass teckie that anything published on a web site can be tracked.

    It should likewise be equally obvious that any action that offends any lawyer will result in a court case in a most unfavorable location.

    Given these two observations and given that this is Cisco then one can only conclude that there are some really dumb people out there.

     

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  9.  
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    Lucretious, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 3:10pm

    Holy christ, the legal profession knows no bottom. What utter and complete scum.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:02pm

    Niro's bounty went beyond the bounds of decency.

    Niro deprived Frenkel of hid due process rights.

    Do you think the judge is going to act? I don't.

    What can we do? Write Congress and ask our representatives to impeach the judge? The judge has condoned Niro's bounty. The judge is morally guilty. The judge ought to be impeached.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 4:19pm

    Decent citizens don't have to put up with these mafia scum going around putting bounties on people.

     

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  12.  
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    yo ho ho...., Apr 17th, 2008 @ 5:42pm

    Support...

    ... for Frenkel!

    Many of us owe you -- and you still have a great fandom out here.

    Don't be afraid to re-blog and post for help -- financial or otherwise... you might be astounded at just how much support you would receive.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 6:33pm

    Can you spell money grab ?

     

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  14.  
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    eskayp, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 8:49pm

    Isn't that material prime fodder for WikiLeaks?
    Rick might forward his expose's through an anonymous friend.
    Might also forward any info on the efforts to intimidate him.
    Then ( Ta-Dah ) Streisand Effect!

     

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  15.  
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    BlowURmindBowel, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 1:33pm

    Streisand Effect?

    I thought that the "Streisand Effect" had something to do with getting moral support from the gay community?

     

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  16.  
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    Norman DiPlume, Apr 26th, 2008 @ 7:01am

    Troll Tracker is a brilliant guy.

    I've known the Troll Tracker for many years. I know for a fact that he began the blog on his own because he truly believed in the position he was advocating. TT is one brilliant guy and really did research, write and publish the blog on his own time. He never spent a minute on it while at work. I guess that some of the parties now in pursuit of TT got their backs up because he cast some pure white light on their practices. This guy was courageous and deserves praise, not scorn. Has anyone noticed that those supporting TT with comments, on this and many other blogs, are those who've come up with facts and logic? Those opposed have been incredibly sophomoric and unprofessional at times.

     

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  17.  
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    LawStudent, Apr 29th, 2008 @ 9:09am

    I guess I just don't see what is wrong with a small private company owning patents and asserting their rights.

    One of the first things you learn in property class is that ownership gives the right to exclude. IP, in the sense of the right to exclude, doesn't seem any different than real property other than you can't physically build a fence and keep people out. In IP (sadly enough) you have to show people that they are infringing (or tresspassing if you like references to real property). I just don't see how it is okay for a company who makes a product to violate the property rights of someone who doesn't make a product.

    Above is some discussion of shady dealings with a F&R lawyer -- I'm not condoning that, I'm simply posing a more academic view on the issue of "are patent trolls really that bad?"

     

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  18.  
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    Mike (profile), Apr 29th, 2008 @ 11:17am

    Re:

    One of the first things you learn in property class is that ownership gives the right to exclude. IP, in the sense of the right to exclude, doesn't seem any different than real property other than you can't physically build a fence and keep people out. In IP (sadly enough) you have to show people that they are infringing (or tresspassing if you like references to real property). I just don't see how it is okay for a company who makes a product to violate the property rights of someone who doesn't make a product.

    The problem is in assuming that tangible property and intangible property are the same. Yes, there's a right to exclude, but the reason you have a right to exclude in tangible property was because it's a rivalrous product. Someone using it limits someone else's use. As such, property rules (the right to exclude) allow for a more efficient allocation of that property.

    When you're dealing with nonrivalrous goods (my uses doesn't limit your use in any way), there's no need for a more efficient allocation, because allocation is naturally as efficient as can be. Putting fake walls on it, as patents do, actually makes the market less efficient.

    That's the problem with it.

    You can't treat rivalrous goods and nonrivalrous goods the same way. It leads to bad economic outcomes.

     

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