Why Is A Charity For Abused Kids Suing A Bunch Of Tech Companies For Patent Infringement?

from the questions-that-need-to-be-asked dept

Really not sure what to make of this. A typical patent trolling type organization named Azure Networks filed two separate lawsuits right before Christmas, against a bunch of semiconductor companies, including Texas Instruments, Freescale, Atmel, Alereon, Samsung, Synopsis and others. At first glance, these lawsuits seem pretty typical: filed in Eastern Texas, filed by a small company whose only purpose is to sue, suing a bunch of big tech companies who actually do something. It meets all the standard checkmarks of these types of lawsuits.

But some folks have noticed one oddity: named as co-plaintiff along with Azure Networks is a local Texas charity. The Tri-County Excelsior Foundation is named as a plaintiff, with a note that it is a non-profit corporation that is "a supporting organization" to a charity called Casa of Harrison County. Casa of Harrison County appears to be a perfectly admirable charity -- based in Marshall Texas -- focused on training "community volunteers to be advocates for abused and neglected children in the custody of Child Protective Services."

So why are they a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit? That's not clear at all. I've embedded one of the two lawsuits below. It says that Tri-County Excelsior Foundation is a plaintiff, but does not explain its relationship to the patent. The filing does say that Azure has a license on the patent, but does not say from whom. The patent in question (7,020,501) lists BBNT Solutions LLC as the assignee, but it's possible that the patent has since been handed off to others.

I have no idea if the patent is valid or not. I have no idea if the companies are infringing or not. But it does seem... odd, to see a non-profit charity supposedly focused on helping abused children, somehow getting involved in a typical patent trolling lawsuit.

Filed Under: charity, patents
Companies: azure networks, tri-county excelsior foundation

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  1. identicon
    staff, 4 Jan 2011 @ 1:36pm


    'filed by a small company whose only purpose is to sue, suing a bunch of big tech companies who actually do something'

    Prior to eBay v Mercexchange, small entities had a viable chance at commercializing. If the defendant was found guilty, an injunction was most always issued. Then the inventor small entity could enjoy the exclusive use of his invention in commercializing it. Unfortunately, injunctions are often no longer available to small entity inventors because of the Supreme Court decision so we have no fair chance to compete with much larger entities who are now free to use our inventions. Worse yet, inability to commercialize means those same small entities will not be hiring new employees to roll out their products and services. And now some of those same parties who killed injunctions for small entities and thus blocked their chance at commercializing now complain that small entity inventors are not commercializing. They created the problem and now they want to blame small entities for it. What dissembling! If you don’t like this state of affairs (your unemployment is running out), tell your Congress member. Then maybe we can get some sense back in the patent system with injunctions fully enforceable on all infringers by all inventors, large and small.

    Call it what you will...patent hoarder, patent troll, non-practicing entity, etc. It all means one thing: “we’re using your invention and we’re not going to pay”.

    For the truth about trolls, please see http://truereform.piausa.org.

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