A growing number of patent attorneys who have worked on cases for patent hoarders have realized that it's such a lucrative game (and it really is a game -- one that wastes money and harms innovation -- but a game, nonetheless) that they've jumped ship, either getting
or buying patents themselves
and launching lawsuits. An anonymous reader points us to one such lawyer who didn't only do that, but has chosen a rather interesting target for his patent lawsuits: other patent lawyers
. Yes, that's right. Patent lawyer Wes Whitmeyer apparently got a couple of patents (5,895,468
) covering ways to manage patent payments, and he's now going after other law firms.
What's particularly unusual is who Whitmeyer is targeting: IP law firms, which are trained to either dish out the pain--or parry the blows--on behalf of others, but rarely find themselves accused of patent infringement. But no less than eight law firms are now in that position, thanks to Whitmeyer's patent claims.
In June, through his patent-holding company WhitServe LLC, Whitmeyer sued seven law firms: Brinks Hofer Gilson & Leone; Dinsmore & Shohl; Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aranoff; Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, Kusner & Jaffe, Mueting, Raasch & Gebhardt; and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
Apparently, Whitmeyer has sued a bunch of companies that make software for managing patent payments (how the hell is that not an obvious offering?), and won one of the lawsuits. The law firms listed above are apparently all customers of that firm, CPi. So, beyond attacking other patent attorneys, Whitmeyer is double dipping here. This is allowed, but it's yet another example of how ridiculously distorted the patent system has become.
The article also points out some other incredible parts of this story. CPi, which has been in business for over half a century, is being accused of willful infringement and for copying Whitmeyer's patents. CPi's CEO claims that's false, and notes that he'd never heard of Whitmeyer until he sued CPi. But where it gets really ridiculous is that Whitmeyer's lawyers are asking the court to increase damages just because CPi's CEO called Whitmeyer's patents "silly." Who knew that expressing an opinion on egregious patents might get you hit with greater damages?
This sort of situation is not what the patent system is supposed to encourage.