How One Startup Used Patents To Kill A (Better) Competitor

from the sad dept

Teck points us to an all too typical, but still disappointing, story of a startup, Like.com (which previously was Riya), and how it allegedly killed off a better competitor with patents. In a strategically timed move, it sued the competitor, Modista, just days before it was going to close funding:
The lawsuit caused investors including Kumar to drop out, for fear of dealing with an expensive lawsuit that could cost more than they had even planned to invest. Because Modista had no money to defend the suit in court, the company later shut down.
This sort of story is more common than you might imagine. I recently had a conversation with a serial entrepreneur who told a similar story. One of his previous companies had been quite successful, and was on the verge of being acquired for upwards of $70 million. Days before the deal was to be closed, one of their competitors got wind of the deal, and filed a patent infringement lawsuit against them, leading the acquirer to drop the deal. Without the funds to fight the lawsuit, the entrepreneur had no other option but to sell his company to the company who sued him for less than $5 million.

Ask around, and you discover that this happens all the time -- patent holders using patents not to innovate, but to block and kill other companies -- especially when those companies really are more innovative and have a better product.

Filed Under: competition, image recognition, patents
Companies: like.com, modista, riya


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  1. icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 5 May 2011 @ 2:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Frivolous. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    I'm not sure it means what you think it means either.

    You seem to be using the word as some sort of quasi-legal definition of "having no merit in terms of legal process". Others seem to be using it closer to the dictionary sense:
    frivolous [ˈfrɪvələs]
    adj
    1. not serious or sensible in content, attitude, or behaviour; silly a frivolous remark
    2. unworthy of serious or sensible treatment; unimportant frivolous details

    To convey the idea of something that is clear to any observer skilled in the field is nonsensical, but will be endlessly argued over by lawyers because a piece of paper says they can.

    You do, however, score a +1 Princess Bride reference.

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