Patent Holder Sues McAfee, Gets $25 Million... But May End Up Losing $5 Million Due To Everyone It Has To Pay Off [Update]
from the this-is-fun dept
Joe Mullin has uncovered some of the details of how Altitude works (and how some of these lawsuits work), because Altitude is upset with the amount of money it got back from one of the patent holders whose lawsuit it "invested" in. Note, here, that it does not appear that Altitude invested in the company in question, DeepNines, but specifically in the lawsuit. Altitude gave DeepNines $8 million for its lawsuit in the structure of a loan. DeepNines sued security firm McAfee and worked out an eventual $25 million settlement. How much did DeepNines actually get? Less than $800,000 -- and even that's in dispute. (Updated in the next paragraph).
Basically, because Altitude had a "model" of what it felt DeepNines should get in a lawsuit, and that model popped out a $200 million award, it felt that it didn't get enough. But the breakdown suggests it did fine. DeepNines paid back the loan at a 10% interest clip, plus another $700,000 as its "contingency fee" on the winnings, adding up to $10.1 million. Then DeepNines ended up having to pay its lawyers at Fish & Richardson over $11 million in fees, plus another $1.25 million to local lawyer (and former federal judge) Robert Parker. DeepNines also had to pay additional expenses for travel and other legal costs, adding up to another $2.1 million. In the end, it was left with less than $800,000. Doesn't seem quite worth the effort. (Update: Good discussion in the comments suggesting that the math here doesn't quite add up, and DeepNines may have actually ended up with about $8.8 million, because you have to add the original $8 million investment to the $25 million in counting in the inflow. That makes sense, so the numbers may be off. I was initially relying on the report claiming $800k was leftover, but it may have actually been higher. The rest of the story does make sense however).
Especially since Altitude is demanding another $5.3 million, saying that DeepNines should have calculated its contingency fee based on the overall award, not after subtracting legal fees. Of course, if it did that, then DeepNines -- despite having "won" $25 million, will have lost nearly $5 million on the overall deal. Be careful who you partner with. This should be a huge warning to any patent holders who think about accepting money from a firm like Altitude. Even a $25 million "win" can turn into a huge loss, if you're not careful.