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I am being sued, in East Texas, for using Google

Austin Meyer · Youtube · 1580 HN points · 1 HN comments
HN Theater has aggregated all Hacker News stories and comments that mention Austin Meyer's video "I am being sued, in East Texas, for using Google".
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The corruption runs deeper than you'd ever imagine. A multi-billion dollar industry you've never heard of. This is the world Patent Trolls thrive in: A world created for them by our own U. S. Patent system. You can be sued for clicking on a hyperlink, using your own scanner, or sharing your Wi-Fi! It sounds insane, but the reality is even crazier. Patent Trolls look for obvious ideas, patent them, and then sue anyone they claim is infringing on their idea. People's lives and businesses are being destroyed.. and they have no way out. “The Patent Scam” exposes the underbelly of this system, and the people that commit this practice.

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Cast: Austin Meyer Peter Braxton Alex Haro Bill Chastain Lee Cheng Drew Curtis Kate Doerkson Van Lindberg Todd Moore Kevin O'Connor Eric Rosebrock Michael Skelps Corey Tisdale Steven Vicinanza Colleen Chien
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Hacker News Stories and Comments

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Jun 07, 2022 · 4 points, 0 comments · submitted by ddtaylor

Also no, that's what we have courts for: They decide if it is justified or not to remove something from the internet. Not every legal system is as corrupt as that of the USA¹, you know?


Jun 08, 2016 · 1565 points, 400 comments · submitted by egb
Patent trolling issues aside (they're valid, but discussed and I'm just another one of the "software patents suck guys"), I'm surprised that Google doesn't provide protection for developers using the Play Store. It's a very critical service for developers writing code for Android -- though it's not always required it is if you want your app to be seen.

They certainly don't have to and I'm not sure if Apple or Microsoft do or not for their equivalents, but I know Microsoft offers patent indemnification for a lot of things these days. It would be in Google's best interest to have a patent indemnification policy for Google Play store.

I'd love to know what the actual numbers look like but I'd be willing to bet that the costs are extremely low since it works as a deterrent to these kinds of lawsuits. Patent trolls go after these lone developers because they'll settle rather than incur the cost. It's an easy buck. This guy didn't make Google Play, he didn't write the code that "supposedly" infringed on the patent. He simply used it because that's the only way for practical purposes to publish an Android app. And since the patent covers a large set of features that Play uses for licensing, he couldn't have published through Play and not infringed in the eyes of Uniloc. The law allows anyone in the chain (including the guy playing with the Flight Simulator) to be sued for infringement, but they'd be very unlikely to do this kind of garbage if they knew Google would bring their legal team into the fold. By not protecting their developers, Google has a deterrent to people using their platform.

I find it oddly funny how Google hasn't stepped in to support their "clients", I'd think they'd help shutdown patent trolls so developers can continue to improve and distribute applications
Because Google has a great track record of caring about Android developers? They are basically monopoly (in western markets at least), they don't need to do anything to turn profit. They are happy to collect their 30% while spending almost nothing (directly that is - on support for example).
The Google Play Store didn't write it self.... Those developers cost real money.
Sure. But that cost isn't proportional to the revenue generated of every app sold and every in-app purchase done on Android. Picking up a million or two in legal costs is the least they should do. If this lawsuit succeeds and this would make 1% of of app developers shy away from the Play store then the lost revenue would easily outweigh any legal costs.
I would totally want this too, but legally, can Google do something here when they are not a party in this litigation?
I believe the defendants are able to hire any lawyer. In that case Google would be able to provide support without issue. I could be wrong.
Or Google can sue patent troll for false claims that they own patent on Google Play Store and seek compensation for their financial damages caused by those false claims. In this case "financial damages" may be interpreted as thousands of developers that presumably did not get involved with Google Play platform because of these false claims.

Plus Google can claim litigation costs.

Also clearly there is a damage to reputation of the Google, since we are discussing here that they need to get involved in this case. I am not sure if they can get compensated for that as well.

IIRC Apple has a history of stepping in to defend app developers from trolls. So there are at least some cases where it's possible.
They could file an amicus brief with the court.
Google could agree to indemnify app developers for legal fees. There are certain restrictions on other people paying for your legal defense but it's commonly done subject to those restrictions.

They could also take the first app developer to get sued under the patent and pay for them to file a CBM review. Or file an IPR or PGR in their own right seeking to invalidate the patent.

If Google just paid for the defense of the developers, without patent reform, wouldn't that just encourage more patent trolls to arise, knowing there is a massive pot of gold?
There would be no massive pot of gold, because Google would not be a party potentially liable for damages.
Only if the trolls won. On the other hand, if Google's lawyers gave them the smack down then all the patent trolls would go scurrying back under the rocks they crawled out from
I think trolls live under a bridge, in either case, it's not a horrible enough place for them.
Even when trolls lose, they're typically shell companies with no assets, so they can't pay for the legal fees of the winner (they just go bankrupt) and the winner still loses in terms of money.
Wouldn't they stand to loose their patents if they declare bankruptcy?
Spin off a shell corp for each individual patent that is litigated, if a loss ever occurs, the only thing "on the line" in a bankruptcy is the single patent that presumably just lost.

IANAL, but I suspect this is exceedingly rare.

He mentioned in the video that App Store apps were getting affected sometimes too, did Apple step in? (I'm legitimately asking, I thought I remembered something about them doing so, but it might have been in relation to a different patent thing unrelated to the store itself).
apples app developers were sued, apple tried to step in. The circumstances were a little different.

This is what I could find. I think the suits were dropped.

Honestly I just think 4chan should get involved in this. That would probably turn out awesome.
Agreed. They should fight this patent, especially since Be Inc. had an online app store back in 1999.
The first AppStore was even older, it was made for NeXTSTEP, Steve Jobs bought the whole thing.
"We want all the freedom Apple doesn't offer!"

"Why are we forced to fight for ourselves?!"


This is a platform that millions use, this isn't a simple freedom that developers don't have for not using Apple's platform. If Google doesn't support their developers, even if they've already made millions, Google will lose a decent amount of market after developers leave their platform because of these law suits. Imagine 2 or 3 of Googles major games dropping support for Android because law suits they lost in court.
Seriously - what the fuck Google?

It's only a matter of time until a patent troll writes a for loop on the store index to send out infringement suits DMCA-takedown style.

Google offers pretty handcuffs that developers mistake for bracelets.

Consider how Google is helping the OEMs get Android updates out. Consider how easy it is to call google customer care.

The real question should be: what the fuck developers? Why do you keep hitching yourself to such an unreliable partner? When is it enough?

Good question. What's the alternative for delivering software to a consumer market? Many people have Android phones.
Amazon have their own app store for Fire devices and Androids. It requires installing Amazon's apk though, which also requires changing a security setting.
Web does not and will never have the same quality of experience as a native application.
What is missing in your estimation?
WebAssembly and efficient arrays bounds checks.
WebAssembly and efficient arrays bounds checks.
Do you use slack? Is that a "web" app or "native"? I think the lines are blurring.
I use the Slack web app, but others heavily prefer the "native" aka "fat" client. The fat client isn't much more than a wrapper for the web, but both are more than just an interface for the API, which can be a bit laggy.
It is like using all web apps in native wrapper and the telling that all web apps looks like native apps.

Slack desktop is a webapp packed in native wrapper.

It would be interesting to offer a curated App store with patent indemnification and malware scanning on Android. Do the whole thing, the APIs the eco-system. Without a particular vendor lock in (like amazon fire for example) you might be able to capture the Chinese OEM market which would be a lot of devices.

Very hard road to travel though.

Speaking of app stores for Android, there’s also F-Droid¹, although admittedly, it’s not much of a 'store' considering it only lists FOSS (Free and Open Source Software).


¹ —

That would almost assuredly force Google to get involved. I think it's more likely that they will continue to sue just a few small time developers here and there to try and keep things under the radar.
Absolutely. At least Apple pledged nominal, vocal support when their developers were being similarly threatened.
As the video mentions, people have been sued for App Store and Steam as well.

Google, and Apple and Valve, can send their own lawyers to defend these clients, but since there are dozens of cases, it will be quite expensive. They can maybe sue these trolls for tortous interference, but that may not stick.

So they can't do much.

If the same plaintiff is suing the a bunch of different developers over the same alleged infringement then I believe the defendants could request that the cases be combined?
If they systematically defended these clients it would not take long for the patent trolls to seek greener pastures. After all, patent trolls are in it to get a settlement or payout. If there's a class of lawsuits where they have no hope of seeing any money, they would steer clear.
Those three companies all have tonnes of cash on hand! Its the right thing for them to do, also!
A couple million dollars would bankrupt the average freelance developer, some many times over. A couple million dollars to any of those companies is negligible. I'm not saying that money is no object, but on the other hand, that Google or apple or whomever allows patrons of their store to be bullied like this is, in my opinion, an embarrassment. It not only shows a lack of concern, but it also loses them money because the apps in question probably have to be pulled from the store. I might be off base but I absolutely think that any of those companies could sue these trolls for their behavior. Instead they seem to be showing that they only care about number one.
> It's only a matter of time until a patent troll writes a for loop on the store index to send out infringement suits DMCA-takedown style.

Perhaps a competing troll owns the iteration patent.

Simple, you instead just write

    totalMoney = googlePlayAuthors.reduce((money, author) => money + abusePatentSystem(author), 0)
No, iteration is fair game, but `for` is an API name patented by Oracle. Legally, a patent troll would have to write a `whenceforth`, `do...thither`, or `oft` loop.
The next time I'm forced to write C code...

#define whenceforth for

#define supposing if

#define whereas else

I know nothing about C. You can alias keywords like that?
You can even do evil like

    #define true false
Along the same lines, for added (and undefined) fun:

    #define static thread_local
    #define if(X) if((X) ^ (rand() < 1000))
    #define private public
    #define while if
In C, #define basically does string substitution, so absolutely.

You can also do even more weird things with it, like X macros

Boost has macro header libs that allow pretty much anything within the macros system limits to be computed. Lookup Boost preproccessor and youll be even more impressed.
My dad used to tell idiots that he was very impressed with their ideas; one day, he pointed out to me that the impression was not always a positive one.

Edit: Not saying Boost is idiotic; just that you may not be positively impressed with their use of preprocessor magic.

The same goes for "quality". It may be a quality product but a poor quality product. If 'quality' is the best word marketing can come up with, maybe marketing isn't of very high quality!
Pretty funny. I have to use that "impressed" fib one day and silently chuckle. Ive actually used Boost preprocessor macros in C for huge benefits to compute variadic functions at compile time. You may not like boost templates or libs but the preproccessor stuff is merely just a turing complete arithmetic language that includes arrays, tuples, lists, and a whole slew of other great things. Its actually quite marvelous how its implemented all from standard macros. A treatise in limited functional programming. I would not want to produce those macros myself..they are insanely clever, just take a look at the source. They use something similar to Church encoding for representing numbers. You can use it without any of the other boost libs or headers. Repetitive code sucks and the BOOST_PP macros are godsend. Im pretty sure you are referring to other 'magic' most likely C++ template stuff. All boost PP does is give you data structures, loop, and arithmetic at compile time. [1]


#define is part of the preprocessor, which does very basic string substitution on the code before compiling. Useful in small doses, but also regularly abused.
An old classic --- pascal.h:

*copyrighted, not patented
They can use dogescript. In dogescript it's a much loop.

I'm just waiting for one of these languages to catch on, gain traction, and become a real respected language used in business settings.
I am hoping for INTERCAL. "COME FROM" is very much needed now that GOTO is considered harmful.
Not respected maybe but lolcode is functional, complete, and extensible.
This is Javascript.
So, no attempts to bring Davis in front of the Texas BAR association for unethical practices?

I'm also curious why numerous developers have not demanded an Insurance Protection Product / Plan that would take a premium in return for subrogation (defense) if a frivolous Patent Suit is filed. I'm rather certain the market exists and while it may be for larger businesses or players, developers forming a Mutual Company and writing on some big name AM Best A paper (or even going to Lloyds) could be helpful.

Anybody know of such an organization or idea?

I guess my line of thinking here is that "Yes, this is totally unfair and rigged" and then move on to "How do I work around the issues, at least to a limited extent, to avoid these pitfalls?" Sign me up for reform, sure, I'm all for it. Until then, I don't like banging my head against walls, I prefer to figure out ways around or over them.

> I'm also curious why numerous developers have not demanded an Insurance Protection Product / Plan that would take a premium in return for subrogation (defense) if a frivolous Patent Suit is filed. I'm rather certain the market exists and while it may be for larger businesses or players, developers forming a Mutual Company and writing on some big name AM Best A paper (or even going to Lloyds) could be helpful.

It would be very cool if company such as NewEgg could offer this - they already have the in-house counsel/expertise; and since the number of people trolled is very small, I'm sure even a small premium would be enough to cover it (provided you have enough customers).

There are firms that offer patent infringement insurance services. The cost is astronomical (7 figures per year).

I have a fair amount of experience with patent trolls.

I've seen companies sued for using facebook, where the damages are X dollars times the number of facebook followers/posts/comments they have. (So the level of risk is very hard to estimate for an insurer, because interaction numbers on the internet can spike easily)

Also, the the troll will practically _always_ offers a settlement that is roughly equivalent (or a few percent cheaper) than the legal fees to defend and win the case. -So a company has two options: Spend Y dollars to make it go away; or Spend Y*0.99 dollars and a year of wasted time to _maybe_ win. The system is setup such that Patent Trolls can't lose and companies can't really win.

> I'm also curious why numerous developers have not demanded an Insurance Protection Product / Plan that would take a premium in return for subrogation (defense) if a frivolous Patent Suit is filed. I'm rather certain the market exists and while it may be for larger businesses or players, developers forming a Mutual Company and writing on some big name AM Best A paper (or even going to Lloyds) could be helpful.

I suspect part of the problem is that the monetary and time costs of litigation could not be easily measured. Every case would be, effectively, unique. Not insurmountable, but I have to imagine that the premiums would need to be very high.

On aggregate, the jurisdiction that patent trolls sue in can handle only so many cases, so it only takes a legal team of a certain size to defend every patent lawsuit in it.

And as a bonus, you can generate a Newegg-like reputation to convince people that you're not worth bothering.

The point raised you're responding to was a good one, and I thank you for adding context. I was under a similar impression, in that for this individual to be able to sustain a case for 4 years, then it has not, from my gathering, bankrupted him or been financially catastrophic. There is a nuisiance factor that, I think, Patent Troll firms like to employ - aka - cheaper to settle than to fight can apply to both time and money.

Pooling these cases, and the information gleaned from the tactics, might reveal patterns and/or pressure points for resistance that an Insurance Team would be willing to underwrite and hire defense for. The point is that if the Insurance Team is good at getting results, then in theory, fewer Patent Troll cases will arise, and the Insruance Company gets to pile up reserves for potential cases and make a profit concurrently.

Then, as you mention, just being a vetted participant and using the logo "Insured Against Patent Trolls By XYZ" can be a deterrent. Takes time, I understand, and it may be a very limited market. I'm just curious if the math and legal defense strategies can be combined in some ways. Thanks again for your postulations.

The insurance would cost more than the expected cost of the litigation which is of course how insurance works. They key with the patent system is that you have to pay millions to defend yourself, but it's exceptionally rare to be able to recover attorney's fees even if you win.

So in the end it's a choice between capitulating and paying some amount (and perhaps unleashing more trolls in the future) or wasting millions and many many hours of your time over years of your life defending yourself.

There's no way to win, which is why this is now a big industry.

The insurance would cost more than the expected cost of litigation for the average member. The vast majority of developers will never be sued, but you don't know if you will be among the unlucky few.

See medical malpractice insurance for another example.

This is a bit of a simplistic view... Insurance trades a slightly higher expected cost for zero variance in cost.

For small companies, that's a great proposition because a small monthly fee can be planned for, while a patent suit is do or die find very expensive legal support.

Perhaps there are ways to defer the lawsuits for lengthy periods of time? (I don't actually know.)
> The insurance would cost more than the expected cost of the litigation which is of course how insurance works. The key with the patent system is that you have to pay millions to defend yourself, but it's exceptionally rare to be able to recover attorney's fees even if you win.

If enough people buy insurance to make sure that the patent trolls never win, then there's no money to be made and the lawyers stop suing. So the price of insurance goes down. It's not like insuring against tornados, which are going to happen regardless of whether the houses are insured. Furthermore, you can state up front "IP Lawsuit Coverage provided by XXX" as a disincentive for people to sue their members in the first place.

Yes. Their business model relies on the fact most people will settle if the offer is about the same cost as a successful defense or less. If they actually had to litigate all these cases they could never make money.

My impression is they'd rather not go to court, since there's always a chance they could have their patent busted.

They don't even have to never win. It just has to cost them enough that their margin is smaller than that of some other venture.
There are companies which offer litigation insurance (someone I know recently got some for a potential lawsuit). But AFAIK, they generally require you to present your case along with expert legal analysis to them before they'll even set a price for the insurance. Which goes back to one of the problems with patents -- there are so many of them which are bogus, how could you ever do a truly exhaustive review of potential infringement?
It exists. Kind of. I know there's a company called LegalShield, and I'm sure LegalZoom has its own version of it.
How would the insurance policy differentiate between patent trolling and legitimate patent abuses? Because I could foresee a company purchasing this insurance and then willy-nilly violating patents to their hearts content.
The insurance company could cover legal costs, but only until they lost X of your cases (for small X).
Simple contract language. There's no compulsion for a legitimate Insurance Team to undewrite a fraudulent risk, and that language will be included in the contract/agreement. I do think it of akin to Auto Insurance Companies in the US being able to deny a claim if the Claimant was doing something against the policy, e.g. "You were street racing and therefore we are not covering your liability" is a seemingly proven out.
Side note: "bar" as in bar association is not an acronym. It refers to the literal bar or barrier in courtrooms which divides participants from the public.


He visits East Texas and shows that the 'offices' of the 'companies' that hold each patent are empty shells.

To save someone 8 minutes:

Tl;dr: He visits the listed offices of several dozen patent trolls in East Texas, including one directly across from the court house. Each one is empty with no sign of human activity. One has a secretary who claims the address is the accounting firm for those businesses. Then one person comes out to say that he is "a representative" of the businesses, and that those businesses "are based in East Texas" though. He recites one sentence about patents being property and then the video creator is kicked out.

How is this fundamentally different from our beloved SV startups organizing themselves as Delaware C-Corps?
It's really not. They're both forms of jurisdictional arbitrage.
It's a similar legal maneuver but with very different outcomes.

In one case you're jut trying to set your company up to avoid paying too much taxes, in the other you're forcing the people you're trolling to a) travel far from home to defend themselves against your likely unfair lawsuit, and b) be at a disadvantage in front of a judge who is known to tilt things in your favor.

That's really more for investors than the startups themselves.
For starters, most people incorporate in delware whether they are in SV or not. It's just a better place for taxes. This is available to anyone who wants to incorporate. Does not require you are in the know or have a relationship with a judge...
Not really true anymore. I believe Wyoming is better for taxes these days. It's more about there being a good body of relevant established case law in Delaware.
One is a parasite on anyone who would dare innovate, and the other is trying to avoid overpaying taxes.
Less to do with taxes, more to do with having a well established and understood regulations and legal system.
Ah yes. Former East Texan here. One company, Personal Web (, setup shop near the courthouse. They came to our school claiming they were going to be working on the next version of the web, web 3.0. They were recruiting for part-time only students. I asked why they chose east texas, and they said because they owned many patents wanted to be near the court that here's many technology patent cases.

1) The patent reason is a giveaway what they were really up to. 2) Why would you only hire part-time students? They were simply trying to build up a credible reputation in the community as a "small, local shop hiring locals" going against the big guys.

Apparently the students are cheap and the work they do is menial thing that everybody can do.
Any chance you know anyone who got a position with them? Really curious what kind of make work projects they had people doing.
Wouldn't it be great if someone got a job with these companies, as a mole? Then snoop through their activities, and write it up as an exposé?
The patent in the video is US 6857067. Claims 1, 20, 22, 30, 31, 67, 107, and 108 were invalidated by the Patent Office in an administrative proceeding, but claims 21 and 22 survived that particular challenge. See IPR2013-00391, Final Decision. Cost for these challenges is around $300k (and often much less for troll suits), rather than the $2-5 million that is typically quoted for district court cases.
Couldn't Google offer defense in such cases for its users? Every case is the same so it shouldn't even be that expensive (I guess, IANAL), and it would discourage future cases because the troll would know he will have to fight against Google.
Good guy Google should definitely be stepping in here
I won't hold my breath
I guess I am stupid, why isn't Google the defendant, other than the fact they have too much money. This is like being sued for shopping at the wrong store.
As I understand, patent liability doesn't stop at any point. So your customers can be sued for using your infringing ptoduct. This has the effect of letting patent owners choose who to go after.
Because it's easier to make money going after small business knowing these business can't afford a lawsuit.

One of these troll companies made $30 million a year doing this and they are even listed on the stock exchange!!

Which listed company is that though
He answers this in the FAQ at the end of the video: Because Google is big enough that it could defend itself.
Yes, that is part of the patent law. 35.271.a: ... whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention ... infringes the patent.

That is why that one copier patent troll (can't remember the specifics) files suit against businesses that purchase copier, but not the manufactures themselves.

The problem is that the "patent" (fucking loose term of the word for something that should never have been allowed to be filed) is about the use of the code in question. It's not the App Store that is supposedly infringing, it's the use of the App Store. What a joke.
Doesn't Google use the Play Store to distribute their own apps like Sheets, Docs, Drive etc.
Yes but they are not going to sue Google, that is the problem
Right. But the patent troll doesn't want to go after a large corporation with the resources to defend. Much easier to go after the thousands of individuals / small businesses that can't fund a 5 year court battle.
I do feel like when a similar thing happened with the iOS App Store (app devs sued for using in-app purchases), Apple tried to insert itself into the case saying that all the technology used was theirs.
Or at least they could join with some other companies to pool money towards a software trade association with real teeth that we can rely on to represent our industry's interests when it's under attack like this.

It's appalling how limp this business is when it comes to demonstrating political muscle

Yea they could in multiple ways. They could sue to the troll for a declaratory judgement of invalidity and non infringement. Or they just indemnify their app stor developers for any patent liability caused by using their product.
>Or they just indemnify their app stor developers for any patent liability caused by using their product.

What about actual patent violations?

>their product

"Their" in this case being "Google Play" product and any liability arising from the use of thereof.

IANAL, but I don't think there's a reason they couldn't indemnify against patent lawsuits regarding the distribution of applications through their services, while not indemnifying for patent violations in the applications themselves.
Can these services just be disabled in East Texas to avoid their jurisdiction? At the very least, it would force the patent trolls into more neutral territory.
I have been wondering the same thing. If not outright disabling the service, would it be sufficient to license one's software in a way that prohibits it being used in East Texas? Would that remove standing to sue in the district?
Wouldn't work. The plaintiff only needs to show a nexus to the venue; all they have to do is open an office there to achieve that.
That's a very interesting idea. I wonder if it's a viable option.

edit: It'd actually be pretty effective if you stop to think about it, even if it doesn't technically prevent litigation.

Just think: "Sorry, this product isn't available in you're area due to patent litigation concerns". Part of me wonders if that happened with Netflix, Google Maps, etc. wouldn't the people start hating the patent litigation instead of being content with it?

Interesting thought. You should ask german Youtube users how they feel about GEMA. You certainly won't hear rave reviews.
That is kind of the nuclear option of the big internet companies. I'm sure they realize that they have this power, but they can only use it rarely, maybe once, before there is public outcry against this "abuse of power". They're probably saving this card it for a bigger issue.
Here's a vid from the same guy last year:

He had just won a three year litigation with the same group, after which they pointed out that even though he had won a battle, they had enough BS patents to keep him in court for several lifetimes. He is currently in year 4 out of a projected 450.

Jesus. I think a hitman is cheaper than the cost of all that.
I happened to read this article about recusal recently and I don't understand how some of these allegations wouldn't be explicit grounds for recusal, specifically the son being a lawyer with a firm that tries cases in the father's court. Article is in the context of Trump, but you needn't let that turn you off.

i was the victim of a patent trolling company called acacia research. they sent me a bunch of legal threats but had my name spelled incorrectly, which happened to give away who had sold my info to them(in exchange for dropping the case a certain entity traded all of their affiliates info to acacia). i was 19 at the time and laughed it off. nothing ever came of it, but in hindsight it certainly wasn't a laughing matter. in the end i think someone staged a pretty good defense and crushed their patent.
Judge Davis retired May 15, 2015

And what has such a man accomplished at the end of his life?
Probably made a ton of money by ruining people's lives.
Thank God, all of this should be coming to an end any day now.
It won't though. The supply of people willing to sell their soul to make easy money contains more than one person.
Son appointed judge, family clan as associates in law-firm... The world does not work this way.
The president appoints federal judges. Not too likely that he's thinking about how to rig the patent court in East Texas.
Is there a unified place one can donate to that people think is the best way to put some money toward real change in the system? I'm happy to send some money to the EFF, but I'd up that 100 times if I knew it was going 100% toward killing patent trolls and I thought it was the best organization to fight that fight.
This was linked in a description of one of the videos:

Agreed. I'd love to see Austin set up a gofundme with specific goals, milestones, a well defined team and strategy. We'd contribute if it's something that would bring about real change.
I thought we already squashed this shit:
Really seems like Google/Apple should make some kind of statement calling out how ridiculous these lawsuits are.
What these tech giants need to do is collude, but this time instead of colluding to screw over their employees by not "poaching" them, they need to collude to cut off all their services to this district of East Texas. Screw over the morons living in this area whose economy lives off this leaching, and also make it so many patent lawsuits can be easily dismissed because the internet services these patents supposedly cover won't be available there, so they can argue the venue is inappropriate.
Doesn't sound like Google. If it had affected Newegg on the other hand...
Could Google do more then a statement? It can't be good for their business if people are being sued for simply uploading an app to the Play Store.
I agree, Google must step in here, pronto.
When developers were sued by Lodsys Apple intervened with a motion due to the fact that the developers were covered under Apple's license. After 2 years, the judge refused to hear the motion and threw it out...
The only way you can deal with trolls is to slay them. Attribution of costs does not work. Most trolls consist of lawyers who create paper work and file it. They do not hire outside law firms at $500+ per hour - the ones their victims are forced to hire. The only tru costs they have are the file fees, which East Texas keeps low. That town is totally a parasitic town and they award wins to trolls to keep the town in cash that trickles down.

I say slay the trolls, slay the judges, slay them all - by legal means if possible. I would love to find an old Texas law that allows trial by combat with no substitutions...

I'm no advocate of violence but this makes you wonder about the ethics of beating such guys up. The legal system seems pointless.
You're wondering about the ethics of beating someone up to get what you want?
My view is admittedly a bit on the extreme side (to put it mildly) but I'd see it as similar to hunting Somali pirates or Congolese poachers for sport. There are things a human can do to set themselves apart from the rest of humanity, and patent trolling is one of them.

Patent trolls don't rise (sink) to the level of child molesters, serial killers or ISIS terrorists, but still... I wouldn't shed any tears if something really bad happened to these people, whether by accident or design. They attack the best of us while contributing nothing. We don't need them.

I think it is important to acknowledge why people do things they do.

- Somali pirates and Congolese poachers: poor and miserable conditions with no perspective to get out of it

- patent trolls: greedy, moral-less legal positivists

- serial killers: psychopaths

- ISIS terrorists: brainwashed losers, who want easy answers, a mission, a group and a leader

- child molesters: I would say mentally ill

If you see it like this, you can fix the problems below. You will still have to protect society from serial killers, but all others seem to be solvable.

- African criminals: fix Africa

- legal positivists: fix the law

- ISIS terrorists: fix ghettos

- child molesters: fix paedophilia

Of course this will only fix the problem for future generations. Potential patent trolls will be assholes in a post-troll world, too, but you will always have to deal with those. There are paedophiles who are not human scum, but are aware what consequences their actions could have. That is also why the catholic church with its celibacy is so attractive to some of them.

I personally think that institutions must act perfectly morally, but personally affected individuals should be required ultima ratio to act against morals and be later judged and punished for it. So in this case, when you are a small developer and there is no way out …

I don't know how you can "fix" paedophilia, any more than you can "fix" psychopathy. AFAICT, they're both mental disorders that are very deep-seated and probably unfixable, at least until we have better biomedical technology and a better understanding of the human brain. There's probably ways we might be able to identify these people as high-risk and put them in programs to monitor them and help them avoid committing crimes, but that's more of a work-around than a fix.

Patent trolls aren't much different from serial killers, though: they're both socio/psychopaths (same thing really). Patent trolls aren't violent, and are greedy for money, that's the main difference. But the law itself you could say is a work-around for problems like this, but as we see here the law is broken and needs to be fixed because the sociopaths have figured out a way to abuse the law for their gain.

> but that's more of a work-around than a fix

Depends on your point of view. In the point of view of a paedophile, sterilisation might not seem like a fix, society itself thinks different.

>Patent trolls aren't much different from serial killers, though: they're both socio/psychopaths (same thing really)

I thought so, too, but then did decided to not call them that, because I imagine that many of them are just not "into market economy" (you get money in exchange for providing value). They see a gap in the law and try to take it from "the big guys", who have it anyway. There are many other groups of people, who think that they are somehow entitled to get money they did not provide value for.

>They see a gap in the law and try to take it from "the big guys", who have it anyway.

There's a difference between suing Google or MS for patent violations, and suing some small business that's just selling an app on Google Play store. These patent trolls are frequently going after small companies because they know they're more likely to settle. That's sociopathic, it's not like Robin Hood.

It might make the world a better place overall but likely cause problems for the beater.
One of those post-bucket list things to do, maybe, after you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness that still leaves you a month or two of personal autonomy.
Don't worry, life is a terminal illness.
The potential silver lining of my breast cancer! I volunteer!
This is where I follow up my earlier post to make it crystal clear that it was tongue-in-cheek, not meant to be taken as advice, encouragement or incitement to violence, and that I would personally consider it very, very wrong for someone to confront patent trolls by flattening them with uparmored construction equipment Killdozer-style, taking them out with a deer rifle Texas-style, or pulling up alongside their cars on the highway and attaching limpet mines, Mossad-style.

Under no circumstances should anyone do any of those things, because that would be wrong.

(And, more seriously, I hope you never have a good excuse to try.)

I hate to point it out, but history is littered with examples of cases where following the law and using non-violent diplomatic approaches failed, necessitating the use of violence (in the eyes of those who felt they had no recourse). It's the very reason just about every nation has a military, for instance.

In a nutshell, if you think beating someone up to get what you want is wrong, then you must necessarily think that military force is wrong, and maintaining a military force is also wrong.

You can also look at some pretty extreme examples: if you're a Jew in 1930-something Germany or one of the nations it occupied, and a bunch of soldiers are coming to take you to the camps, is it unethical for you to use violence against them? Of course, you might argue that's a bad example because the other side already initiated the use of (or threat of; they're carrying guns) violence so you had the right of self-defense. But that's no different than having a legal system that you feel is unjust: if you don't agree with the legal system's ruling and resist or ignore it, then they'll send men with guns to force you into submission using violence.

Now you can argue that there's a huge difference in magnitude between being taken to death camps and losing a patent case and having to give a large sum of money to a patent troll, but I think the principle is the same, it's just a difference in degree. All human conflict is like this: we have systems we try to use to avoid solving our differences with violence, but at times, these systems fail and at least one party feels the price/risk is worth it. Luckily, if you look at the entirety of human history, the amount of violence has been steadily falling, and we're probably at the least violent point in history, if you look at humanity as a whole.

It's good to raise awareness, especially on the users of the play store (I mean, the developers).

For example I learned a lot from this video: in case I decided to sell an app on any store, I'd better contact my lawyer to get advised on where and how to incorporate my company.

I don't know if it can be easily resolved by incorporating in another country, but the difficulties of an international litigation should discourage trolls.

New Zealand. They banned software patents.
There's broad exclusion for software in Europe as well.
A while back, I did some research into patent trolls, and came across the history of NPE firms that do DPA (defensive patent aggregation), like RPX [0]. What surprised me from a game theoretical perspective was how murky things got. These situations can be tough on entrepreneurs and seem to create space for said entrepreneur to purchase protection in the form of patent aggregation to mitigate against potential devastation caused by this. On one hand, I can see how it can amount to a protection racket. On the other hand, the existence of patents and how they relate to property are pretty complex. This TechCrunch article about RPX does a good job of going into further detail about this, but truth be told, I am even more on the fence after reading this. I agree that patent reform would be necessary to rectify this situation, but in the meantime, I can't think of a better alternative. The cynic inside me can't help but think that business is always it's own kind of war, sadly.

[0] [1]

Interesting, his case is in their search tool:
From what I recall, they acquire IP when its from companies in this situation. I'm not a betting person, but I would not be surprised if this situation was a good opportunity for RPX's PR.
I came from an European country, and the root cause seems pretty clear to me: why defending yourself in court is so damn expensive? In my country, you don't often need an attorney (although for complex cases you certainly do), but even if you do hire an attorney, they cost way, way less. Like $20,000 for a complex case, and it's going to be a team of lawyers.

Also, companies just don't sue each other that often. I don't know why US is different.

I'm reading this thread with a similar wonder: they seem to be blaming everything but the broken legal system.

Google should fix it, East-Texas should fix it, Texas should fix it, donation to legal funds should fix it, insurance should fix it, more campaigning and lobbying should fix it, we should let them fight to the death that will fix it!

Hmhm. Quite :)

> I'm reading this thread with a similar wonder: they seem to be blaming everything but the broken legal system.

Except they are blaming the legal system, as you yourself enumerate:

> more campaigning and lobbying should fix it

Campaigning and lobbying are ways of effecting change to the system of laws.

> Campaigning and lobbying are ways of effecting change to the system of laws.

Yes of course they are. But that way those with the biggest army of lobbyists and campaign donations are going to decide what your laws will be. This is part of your problem, not your solution!

Didn't the guy already say it in the video? They tried various times but the system is so broken and rigged that it just won't work. The senate just outright denies any of the reform bills. It's really desperate that one will have to assume by default that there is no recourse other than trying to acquiesce the existence of such absurdity and try to find workarounds, but this is how America is. Don't be surprised.
What about making an "anti patent troll" website that will allow users to share their legal approaches and documents and the rest of the defense materials. Some of them may be reusable. I guess it should significantly limit the legal costs for everyone and improve their position against trolls, right?
I was toying with doing that. Even got a domain name. Might be a bit of a hassle though. Dunno. Thoughts anyone? Would it help? Would I get sued?
IANAL but I'd setup the corporate entity outside the US and hire a mail forwarding service of some kind to redirect all the mail to your home.
Another video linked here featuring the same guy links to which seems to be an initiative of something called Application Developers Alliance.
I'm not sure how this works when it comes to a successful defense but it's my understanding that, in the case of a settlement, the defendant must sign an NDA - preventing just this and allowing the racket to continue.

"Ric Richardson is an Australian inventor. He is the holder of multiple granted patents including the Uniloc patent US5490216 and the Logarex patent 6400293. Although he spent twelve years in California to promote and develop products produced by Uniloc, Richardson grew up in Sydney and currently resides just outside Byron Bay.

He is the founder of Uniloc, a company based on the technology he first patented in 1992."

Here's his picture from the Uniloc web site:

He's apparently insanely talented, having "invented" the panic button, the visual voice recorder, the 3G skype phone, the secure browser, the universal database, the carbon scrubber, the book dispensor, "media objects", the "Internet Computer", QR Codes, DRM, a password replacement system, TV muting, and several dozen other devices, just in the past 16 years alone.[1]


Full name: Frederick Bailier Richardson III

Am thinking these activities devalue the terms invention and inventor. Would prefer that to patent some process that you had invented you ought to have to come up with a device to implement said process. You may not even know how to realise your idea in practise which is kind of where all the hard work is. An not saying idea for processes are ten a penny but the bar needs to be raised.

What to do about this?

I'm told, you may be put to trial in East Texas, if you're selling your goods or services there. – So, why not stop selling to East Texas and let them settle the resulting collision of interests themselves?

Can a lawyer or something with legal background please weigh in on this?
(1) That would probably work under the existing rules.

(2) There is an active legal challenge to the existing rules (arguing that they misapply two separate provisions of law as if one controls a definition in the other, when that is not the case), which if successful would radically shake up patent venue and pretty much end the "drag everyone into ED Texas" thing we have going on right now. [0]


Yet another example of the consumer software industry being completely impotent when it comes to defending itself.

Patent trolls file these frivolous lawsuits because they make millions and suffer zero consequences for their actions. Why? Because there is no industry trade group representing the software industry with any sort of teeth. They know software developers have money, and they know software developers are absurdly weak when it comes to defending themselves. Software developers are easy prey.

Other than the EFF who is out there to represent us with any measure of real leverage over the legal process? Who is out there with the muscle to make patent trolls and software unfriendly lawmakers have second thoughts when targeting developers?

With no lobbies or trade associations with any sort of power out there representing consumer software, anyone with even minor influence over government can simply walk all over software developers, again and again and again. The consumer software industry has enormous amounts of cash at it's disposal, surely a few cash rich companies can pool enough resources together to kick off a trade association worthy of punching back, hard

Somebody needs to create a FUPA for anti-patent trolling
Uniloc has this piece of Google Maps screenshot hosted at their web server. Isn't this not allowed?
While I applaud what Austin Meyer is doing by raising awareness about patent trolls, does anyone here but me wish that the content had been made available in some sort of text medium instead? I can't think of any important parts of the video that couldn't have been reasonably conveyed through the use of text.
Not as condensed as true text, but you can download the CC:
I agree, but maybe because he said he wants to raise the awareness of 'simple' people, such as jurors, etc. Video is probably better medium to go viral than some text about software parents regarding non techies.
Interestingly, the login button doesn't even work at, and if you look in the source, there's a ton of commented-out paragraphs that say stuff like "<h2>The spirit of innovation is alive and well at Uniloc.</h2>".
They also have port 21 open:
Fun fact: their website has listings turned on and runs an ancient version of WordPress last touched in 2012.

It's like they're trying to be as obviously illiterate as they possibly can.

Including publicly accessible database backups. I haven't seen such disregard for security in a very long time.

For a "software security company" they sure are begging for their website to be hacked.

Or maybe it is a honeypot?

INSERT INTO `wpu_users` VALUES (2, 'bdavis', [...], 'bdavis', '[email protected]', '', '2010-08-05 18:06:44', '', 0, 'bdavis');

What the hell? Could this be the lawyer the video talks about?

Apparently not:

> Bradley C. Davis, Brad serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Uniloc USA

How has East Texas not been shut down already?
Everybody in the chain of responsibility capable of doing so stands to financially benefit from this practice continuing.

For a business to claim it's "based in" East Texas it'll have to pay its taxes there. Local litigation law firms are bringing tons of money into the area, further increasing local revenue. Shutting it down would probably even knock a significant slice off of the state's income.

One practical thing one could do is to forward this to an influential tech journalist, ideally to a mainstream publication that has a technology section, like CNN or WSJ.
Someone really needs to create a patent that defines methods of patent trolling, so every time one of these scumbags starts a lawsuit you can sue them.
Someone (Halliburton!) already tried:

Edit: And IBM apparently got one granted:

lol, after a quick glance at the IBM one it seems to be patenting software that manages patent portfolios (maybe). How utterly bizarre
How about a patent about placing the right foot into a solid hollow object with three to four cylinder shaped objects (with low height to radius ratio) separating that hollow object from the surface of the earth - yeah - and well, then driving with it ... will have to think about how to make that sound smart and original.

How is this even for real - why is Google not putting an end to it?

Would incorporating your tech company in England instead of the USA protect your company from these patent troll lawsuits? It's extremely easy to start a company based in England, even as a US citizen living in the USA. With the patent trolling this out of control in the US at the moment, would basing your company abroad offer you any protection?
Yes, if your product or service is only available in England.

No, if you sell your product or service in the US (or at least East Texas). It doesn't matter where your company is incorporated, it only matters where you do business.

There's only so far a justice system can get dysfunctional before people say fukitall and it looses its legitimacy. It's not just patents, civil forfeiture is another thing that comes to mind and I'm sure there more.

I imagine if in future somebody gets such a patent lawsuit, they'd just rip up the letter and throw it away. Police comes to carry out court orders because they decided in absence? "Sorry officer, the reason you're here is just patent bullshit." - "Oh well, I won't lift a finger for these idiots. Sorry for bothering you, have a nice day!"

Or a more extreme reaction: already in this thread, a couple of people are fantasizing about violence, hiring a hitman and so on. I realize it is mostly meant jokingly, but self-justice is another effect of a justice system that's lost legitimacy.

Rule-of-law is a great thing to have, but it only works if these laws are somewhat reasonable and in accord with peoples moral values...

Here's written coverage of the situation in case you don't have time to watch the video:
The American patent system is a dead weight drag on the American software economy. The quality of software patents is atrocious, and the value of the tiny fraction of good patents in this space does not make up for the Billions lost to trolls and the costs of administering the system.
Judge Leonard Davis presides over a large amount of these "Patent Troll" cases, and his son (!!) Bo Davis is a Lawyer who represents these very same Patent Trolls in court!

If that's not a racket, I don't know what is.

Question: Is a lot of the backend supposed to be available through going directly to the wp-content? If you go to, there's backups, images, plugins, and even a .sql file...
Hah nice. Probably not the kind of firm you want to be messing with, however...

Then again I'll just leave this here.

You can find more here:
How about creating a petition here about this issue and we all sign it?

Will Peter Thiel help? These trolls are actually destroying lives.
For all the entrepreneurs looking for a problem to solve, here it is: Create a company/product that automates legal services (start with the niche case for defending against Patent Trolls): then offer it as a service, say with a flat fee. If the cost of this service is on the order of hundreds of dollars, say less than 500$, it should solve the problem of frivolous law suits. This sub-niche is huge!
If Google won't step in and litigate the patent trolls into poverty, ruining everyone's life who is involved and possibly even promising to ruin their children's and grandchildren's lives long after the actual patent trolls are dead...

that would stop it.

But in the meantime, guess I'll just be writing webapps.

The docket for the lawsuit in question is here:

Someone patent "the idea of having a patent" and Sue these companies in Hawaii.
Somehow this all seems illegal. I'm not that familiar with the US law so can somebody explain if the defendant can claim that the judge has a conflict of interest and is not fit to handle the case because his son profits from it?
Well it's very unlikely the judge directly works his son's cases due to that obvious conflict. Rather, the judge works a random set of cases brought in East Texas and works them favorably for trolls. So many troll cases get brought in that district, hoping for this judge or other friendly judges.

It's obviously rotten but that one-step removed corruption is probably not explicitly codified as wrong anywhere. Hopefully the legal system finds a way to root it out.

I live less than an hour from Marshall, TX. Maybe an hour and a half from Tyler, TX. I'd love to help in any way I could, but since I'm not a lawyer I bet anything I could do is slim to nothing.
Glad to see he won.

OK HN, get out there and find this man some prior art so we can all just put this company out of business...
If Peter Thiel could do it, why not Google? It does not cost much for Google to invalidate the patent.
"... defend myself for committing the crime of ..."

But a lawsuit is a civil case, not a criminal case, right?

"I'm not here to raise awareness! Ok, yes, maybe that's what I'm doing."
Is the process of filing a patent patented?
As angry as this video makes me, I'd point out that we've been making some progress in the fight against trolls. Yes, they're still a problem, but some things that have weakened them:

The Supreme Court's ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank, which dealt a fatal blow to a lot of software patents out there (especially the awful, vague and overly broad patents that trolls love so much). The Supreme Court reaffirmed that merely "adding a generic computer to perform generic computer functions" does not make an otherwise abstract idea patentable. [0] This ruling helps get rid of cases earlier. While it doesn't kill off patent litigation, it makes it easier for us to fight low-quality assertions. More importantly, this puts a tougher filter for prosecution of new patent applications, the vast majority of which are dumb and overly broad.

Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings, which are rather expensive (average $278,000) [1], but are much cheaper than litigation. Third parties can use IPRs to challenge patent claims (patentability) based on prior art patents and publications. In the case of Austin Meyer's patent defense, many of the patent claims were invalidated through this kind of proceeding, and petitioned by a consortium (Distinctive Developments, Ltd., Electronic Arts Inc., Gameloft S.E., Halfbrick Studios Pty Ltd., Laminar Research LLC, Mojang AB and Square Enix, Inc.). [2]

Heightened pleading standards. Before December 2015, it used to be that trolls could sue dozens of companies with cookie-cutter complaints, citing no real facts, and put on pressure for settlements by threatening lengthy and costly discovery proceedings. But thanks to decisions in Iqbal/Twombly, complaints must plead facts and recite aspects of the accused product that are alleged to infringe. This butchers the spam lawsuit tactic, and the day before this went into effect, trolls filed a one day record for new suits. [3] Shameful, yes, but it's helped clarify standards governing motions to dismiss.



[2] search patent number 6857067 and document 37 at


WTF! This is ridiculous. later these people might start sue people use cell phone.
People will mention the problem with patents but I see another, perhaps bigger, problem:

We do not have equal access to our judicial system in the United States.

If you have money, you have the power to legally hold people with less over a barrel. That exploitable inequality is poison for a well functioning society. That is the problem that needs solving.

I complained about a corporation that was breaking the law in an online forum. They sued me for defamation, saying flatly that they had no dealings whatsoever in the accused activity. Shortly after they sued someone else in the same state claiming that, in the process of the same illegal activity, which they described in detail, some other party was not acting in good faith. I ask my lawyer "how in America in 2016 can they make two blatantly contradictory lawsuits?" The lawyer told me "This is a pissing contest you don't want to be involved in. You should settle ASAP". So I paid my life savings and tried to move on.
>We do not have equal access to our judicial system in the United States.

I agree, but I think we can be more specific.

Criminals (or those accused of a crime) are constitutionally guaranteed an attorney. Civil plaintiffs/defendants, by contrast, have no such right. The anecdotes and experiences of HN users overwhelmingly describe the civil side of things.

Civil lawsuits, IMO, should carry no guarantee of counsel at the constitutional level. Imagine if they did: free lawyers mean frivolous lawsuits and over-burdened courts. But, I don't think anyone is actually clamoring for such an arrangement.

So, specifically, how can we more efficiently allocate limited legal resources to ensure that the average civil litigant is not disadvantaged by a wealth disparity with his opponent?

Well, what's the perceived disadvantage to a resource-poor litigant? What's the perceived advantage to a resource-rich litigant? Good facts make good cases much more frequently than good lawyers make good cases.

What about a right to a defense attorney in a civil case? That way you can't bring frivolous suits. That's actually exactly how the criminal courts work too. This seems too simple of a solution though, are there good reasons not to do this?
Everyone has a right to a defense attorney, just not a free one. Are you suggesting that the government (which is to say, taxpayers) fund the legal defense of everyone who gets sued in America? Including, say, OJ Simpson's civil suit?
I think so. I believe he should 1000% have been appointed one in the criminal case had he not been able to pay for one and he won the criminal case before he was sued.
The winning party should be able to apply to the court for a costs order once the case has been decided, and the court can decide whether their reasonable costs should be borne by the loser.
^This happens routinely
To be fair, when somebody sues somebody else, it's not like it's a private affair, the suing party is actually asking the state to use it's power against the sued party.

It's not crazy to think that before the state should use it's power against you on behalf of another citizen, it's up to the state to ensure that this action is lawful and correct to do (which might require supplying you with an attorney).

> Good facts make good cases much more frequently than good lawyers make good cases.

Demonstrably not in the case of patent lawsuits, especially in east texas.

I don't fully understand what you're insinuating. Could you explain?
Basically, some rules were established that allowed patent cases to be heard lightning fast in Texas' Eastern District and generally in favor of the plaintiff because the patent trolls knew these different rules for presenting arguments better than defendants did and abused the system.

"Ward’s rules unleashed what became known as the 'rocket docket.' In his first year on the bench, Ward heard 5 patent cases. In 2006 his docket had 87. 'I did not anticipate that there would be an explosion of lawsuits,' says the now-retired judge."

"Yet Marshall soon gained a reputation the judges may not have welcomed: it became known as a plaintiff’s playground, a place that frequently handed out tens, or even hundreds, of millions of dollars in damage awards. In 2006 the New York Times reported that of the patent cases that went to trial in Marshall, jurors ruled for plaintiffs 78 percent of the time, far more than the national average of 59 percent. From 2001 to 2006, plaintiffs prevailed in eighteen straight verdicts in Marshall."

Maybe the cost a lawsuit should include a public defender style attorney for the defendant?
An interesting thought experiment along the lines of resolving this inequality is making it so that sides can only fund their civil case through a fund that both sides contribute to but both sides get an equal share. This means in order to frivolously sue someone, you have to be willing to fund their effort to defend against you.

It probably breaks down a lot in cases involving multiple litigants (let alone class actions), but it is an interesting idea.

That's a genuinely brilliant idea!

The ramifications on corp to corp lawsuits would be amazing.

it makes frivolous lawsuits even worse. It means if i bring a lawsuit against a major corporation the either have to put up a very cheap defense so that i dont get much money for my lawyer or if they go all out then i have the money to hire top lawyers and drag the frivolous case out. It would make patent trolling even worse because lawyers would just sue big companies so they have work for a few months that is guaranteed to be paid by the corporation
This is clever!

I see at least one flaw, though: what if the two sides disagree about the amount of money that should be contributed to the fund?

Well, in my premise there is no need for agreement. If side A thinks it's worth $N and side B thinks it's worth $M, they each get ($N-$M)/2 to work with. This asymmetry is what makes it a bad choice to try to overpower a less wealthy opponent by simply outspending them.

I haven't really thought through the consequences of requiring some kind of agreement in advance, but my instinct is it couldn't really work just because being obstinate would be heavily rewarded.

A brilliant idea! I hope this actually gets implemented some day in a legal system of any country.
"Hi, yes, I'd like to sue Apple for millions, and since I'm an unemployed armchair lawyer, I can make sure it takes a long while and a lot of tedious aggravation to beat me. Also, since I'm suing pro se, Apple would be paying me a salary equal to whatever their legal team makes for the duration of the trial. Or, you know, I'd be happy for Apple to just give me $100,000 to settle."

Then repeat for every wealthy corp you can think of. A loss doesn't hurt you, because you're still getting paid from the joint legal fund.

Alternatively, Apple could give a lawyer a million dollar gift, with the understanding that he'll defend them in any lawsuits for the next year while charging minimum wage. Then, Apple would be happy to pay an equal amount of minimum wage dollars toward the other side's legal expenses.

If Apple knew it was a frivolous lawsuit that it barely needs to defend itself against, then it probably wouldn't put any money into the fund and just defend itself with half of whatever you put into the fund.

Maybe I'm reading the parent comment wrong, but I assumed this system would allow for unequal funding between the two sides. So if you think it's a frivolous lawsuit that you can easily win you would just let the other side fund the entire endeavour.

Yep, that is what I meant.
The problem knodi is raising is that pro se litigants don't have the same cause as normal ones, because they aren't paying for lawyers.

A solution to this might be to say that any money not sent on the case is given back to the person who payed more, so it's not an avenue for making money.

You'd need to also disallow pro-se litigants paying themselves a fair wage out of legal costs, in order to defeat this clause of my evil scheme: "Apple would be paying me a salary equal to whatever their legal team makes for the duration of the trial".

Which is maybe not an unreasonable solution, but it strikes me as fraught with unintended consequences.

The former issue is a valid concern, but I actually think combined these almost form a resolution to the issue.

I don't think BigCorpA could get away with simply gifting a lawyer a large sum of money to work on cases with arbitrarily low costs, but I do think they could have contract lawyers who work for the fee their opposition works. These small frivolous cases run by a person representing themself should not require millions to get shut down as being such (and if they are that's a different legal system dysfunction), but there'd be more than enough cases where the amount spent is large and being on deck for those would be worth it to a good lawyer. Not to mention cases where the company thinks upping the spend is worth it to defend on something real and important.

Note that I don't think your scenario is actually all that different from the current reality, other than the idea that your opposition is funding you, but there are almost certainly arrangements where this would not be the case.

Also, if your case is dismissed as frivolous I think you would not get any of the fund regardless.

Good points :)

"Loser pays" would go a long way, I think. Not being that familiar with the US system, what's the reasoning not to have this?
You have that in some cases. My parents just went through that. A complete nonsense legal case (the other person stole tens of thousands of dollars in property and then sued them for demanding it back and spreading lies that the property was stolen from them). In the end, the judge ruled my parents were absolutely in the right and demanded court costs be paid for. Except, you know, that person didn't have any money and a nasty, multi-year long lawsuit is emotionally and financially devastating. There are also "anti-slap" laws sometimes where you can demand court costs paid for if the other person was suing you to try to suppress your freedom of speech. I'm sure that something could be done legally to curtail this atrocious behavior, but as the guy in the video mentioned, congress seems unwilling to take up the subject.
Loser pays means that when an ridiculous East Texas judge and jury decide that a patent troll's claim is justified, the victim will not only have to pay damages and their lawyers, but the troll's lawyers too.
To be fair, I think this mistake in the US judicial system should be fixed separately.
The overall point is that there will always be injustice, and loser pays can easily magnify it rather than reducing it. Even if you fix East Texas, there will be many others. I'm sure you can construct it such that there's a net gain, and maybe even a simple "loser always pays" system qualifies, but it's tough to figure out.

In theory, I like the idea that the winner's legal fees are just another item in play when the judge decides how to award damages. Maybe it's just a matter of calibrating that judicial sense properly. Or maybe that's just a cop-out on my part to push the thinking onto somebody else.

In theory, I like the idea that the winner's legal fees are just another item in play when the judge decides how to award damages.

In effect, this is exactly what happens in most loser-pays systems. Loser-pays usually doesn't mean literally that the winner automatically gets all of their fees paid, no matter how abusive their practices during the case or how disproportionate their expenses. More often it means that the judge can award those fees and there is some sort of presumption in favour of the winner of the case not losing out financially.

Then I guess either that's not what people mean when they say that the US should adopt a "loser pays" system, or they're unaware that the US already does this.
The one major pitfall of 'loser pays' is that it creates greater risk for legitimate complainants that might still lose. It is less direct but still favors entities that can absorb that risk. Even so, I think you are right and it could be helpful especially if there is some 'legitimacy threshold' that must be crossed before it is invoked to keep the actual cases that need to be heard and judged by legal experts to be teased apart fairly from being quashed prematurely.
It's called the English Rule. People argue that implementing it could disincentivize people bringing forth valid cases and that it could lower the liklihood of settling, increasing legal and court costs for cases that do go through.

I don't really have an opinion either way, those are just the common arguments against it.

They're common arguments, but the predicted falling skies don't happen very often in practice. Meanwhile, there is far less of a problem with barratry under loser pays than the US system seems to have.
As long as it's no more than the price of the cheaper legal team this method would work. That way poorer people who have been wronged are not heavily deterred from filing suit.
It deincentives those who don't have deep pockets from asserting their rights through the judicial system.
Also, depositing 10% of the sued ammount would clean the place right up and bring ammouts to a more reasonable level. If I am correct, this is how it works in my country.
Some people would make a lot less money.
If loser pays, poor people would be discouraged from even attempting to sue rich people.

Even if the poor person has a legitimate claim, there is a small probability that the rich person will win with their superior lawyers and the poor person will be bankrupted by the legal fees. Since they will know that from the beginning, they won't sue in the first place.

It could be done that it is not loser pays by default. Instead, if a case is won, and the case was deemed frivolous, only then could loser-pays be enacted.

But it still doesn't solve the idea that the "Law is more equal the more money you have." .

This is essentially how it works today, from my understanding.

If you lose and your suit was 100% without merrit, you can be sued for lawyer fees.

From what I understand, the problem is the bar for meritless is very very very high. Not sure how you legislate that. I think most lawsuits are meritless. A lawyer may have a very different opinion.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

A lawyer's salary depends on him not having the opinion that most lawsuits are meritless.

This only favors rich people when the case is questionable. So it slightly favors them. The current situation massively favors rich people.
How would a poor person be able to sue now? They don't have the money to hire a good lawyer. If the lawyer is working on contingency, then they are only going to take cases they are pretty sure they are going to win anyway, so they will still take cases where 'loser pays'. Granted, a contingency lawyer is probably going to need a higher guarantee of victory in a 'loser pays' system in order to agree to the case, but I don't think that would be a HUGE factor.
A small probability of a high (but known) fee is something that can in principle be insured against, no?
And then insurance companies will become the toll collecting gate-keepers of yet another domain. This time the entire judicial system.
This comes up every single time, but it remains false. Loser pays does not mean that the loser has to pay a gigantic amount for the opponent's extremely expensive lawyers. Loser pays means that the judge determines what is a reasonable amount for the legal fees. Often the amount you have to pay for your opponent's lawyers is limited to what you paid for your own. So unless you hire extremely expensive lawyers yourself, you won't have to pay a huge amount if you lose. If a party wants a much more expensive defence they have to pay for that extra cost regardless of whether they win.

Almost every country except the United States uses this system.

> Almost every country except the United States uses this system.

Almost every country except the US uses agencies of their executive branch of government to enforce most labor, housing, discrimination, harassment, and civil rights laws. In the United States the enforcement of such laws is often split, with only very serious violations being handled by an executive agency and the more common violations simply creating a cause of action for a civil suit.

Even if the amount a loser has to pay is limited to what they themselves paid for their own attorneys it would still greatly discourage many people from bringing suits over labor, housing, discrimination, harassment, and civil rights against anyone who has significantly more resources than they do. If they spend a lot to get a top attorney and lose then they have to pay a lot. If they spend little on an attorney to limit the maximum they might have to pay then they have to worry that the other side will out lawyer them.

The problem of being out-lawyered by a richer opponent exists in both cases, so I don't see how that's an argument for or against either system.

The point about potentially discouraging lawsuits has a grain of truth in it, but not more than a grain. In the US you'd have to pay $X regardless of whether you win, and with the loser pays system you pay $0 if you win and $2X if you lose. It is at most a factor of two. The reality is that most people who can't afford $2X also can't afford $X. Consider what you get in return: (1) if you're quite sure you can win, you can sue at no cost (2) big companies can't just bully people into a settlement (like they attempted in this story). The net effect is that poor people who are clearly in the right gain the ability to sue, and rich entities who are clearly in the wrong lose the ability to extort settlements from poor people, but poor people who can afford $X but can't afford $2X lose the ability to sue if they aren't sure they can win. A very good trade-off if you ask me.

His first paragraph explains why the public policy implications of loser-pays are different for civil law countries: far fewer controversies are handled in the court system, because the executive branch is given much more power.
> judge determines what is a reasonable amount for the legal fees

That just gives financial unsupervised power to the judge, without any clear definition of involved terms. Which doesn't really sound like a good idea.

In practice, this is no different to having judges determine the amount of any damages awarded in a successful civil action or the amount of jail time or size of fine given to a convicted criminal. Making such assessments, taking into account the circumstances of each specific case, is a large part of the role of the judge in many legal systems.
Amount of jail time doesn't really benefit donors, but amount of damages and who pays does.
Sorry, I don't follow. Does "donors" have some technical meaning here?
Judges in the US run for office like politicians and thus have donors to their campaigns. Sorry for the confusion.
Ah, I see. Thanks.

What I don't see is how anyone who is inherently subject to popular opinion can possibly rule impartially in the interests of justice, but that's a different question.

I guess people feel the ability to vote out a judge balances versus the problems. It also probably keeps some flaky political appointees from becoming judges.
Somehow it seems to work quite fine. I can't say if judges here have some approximate documentation for acceptable hourly costs and work loads, or if it's decided case by case.
The US has elected judges, who have to campaign, and raise campaign money. The chances are non-nil that the "rich person" has, could or will contribute to the judge's campaign funds.
Indeed. I'm living in a "loser pays" country, and it's definitely not a limitless tap. Judges quite often settle the loser's extra costs down to a more reasonable number.
Curious, what if the reasonable number is more than the lower could possibly pay? As in, they simply do not have the resources to pay it?
In some US jurisdictions you will eventually be sent to jail for failure to pay court fees.
I'd say it's just a debt as any other then.

Not directly related, but personal bankruptcies aren't a thing here. If a debt can't be paid, it goes to recovery proceedings, and will stay like that until it expires in (generally) 15-25 years.

It's actually the opposite. These patents trolls are typically very small operations suing massive corporations. They aren't rich guys screwing the little guy. It's the little guy screwing whoever he can.

These little guys have too much access to the legal system.

That's why it's hard to clamp down on. Nobody wants to make it so only big guys can have access to the legal system.

You identified a separate problem from the parent post rather than refuting it.

#1: Big corporations can push small guys out of business by tying up their products in patent disputes.

#2: Patent trolls can bleed corporations big and small while producing nothing of value.

These problems are specific to the patent industry.

Are there similar problems in other areas of the law? If so, we may be able to identify and try to solve the larger problem. If not, we just need to focus on patent reform which is an easier problem.

#1 is a problem in any area of the law with complex and/or lengthy litigation, the financial ability to run out the clock and outlast (possibly literally) and/or out-lawyer the other party is an effective and powerful one throughout.
They have enough money to keep a lawsuit going. They are certainly not "little guys" in the same sense a regular worker is.
With the added wrinkle in this particular case that the patent troll is also suing a bunch of little guys who decided to use Google Play Store.
Sounds like they are suing whoever they can including Minecraft which isn't a small fish.

There is a form of patent trolling that only goes after small guys. But they'd avoid actually litigating the patent and just push a settlement. They'd never take it to trial because little guys can't pay out enough to justify the cost of a patent trial. That form is basically extortion. They ask for a small sum of money to just go away.

> They ask for a small sum of money to just go away.


Surprised there isn't a more meaningful response from Google.

> They aren't rich guys screwing the little guy. It's the little guy screwing whoever he can.

They are rich enough to sue. They are not "the little guy", they are often well funded businesses that buy patents wholesale for the sole purpose of suing other businesses.

Indeed, many of these patent troll houses have big time investors backing them, vultures hoping to cash in on the remnants of the small-to-mid companies they sue into oblivion.

At my last job I fielded a call from the "scanner patent" guys, luckily I knew what they were up to and I declined to answer any questions. They framed the call as being from Staples for a survey about the office equipment we may have bought from them, i.e. they flat out lied. Since I was in charge of all office and IT equipment purchase decisions, I knew we'd never bought a thing from Staples, and when they started specifically asking about multifunction printers with scanners, I just said "troll someone else" and hung up.

But in all honesty, I do not see things changing anytime soon with regards to what you mention as being a bigger problem in the US (that I've personally experienced when going up against facebook without trying to spend a fortune in civil court).

I do see people taking advantage of legal systems in other countries in order to do other behaviors and applying a legal arbitrage of sorts agaisnt another legal system (i.e scihub/libgen vs elsevier), so maybe this will become more prevalent as time goes on as the technical means to do so becomes more available.

Or maybe its just a problem with the East Texas court. Almost all bad patent issues resolve from this court. A ton of them are appealed successfully.

It doesn't matter how fairly the laws are written if the judges presiding over them are assholes.

The other side of that coin is that if you don't have a lot of money then you most likely won't get sued.
| We do not have equal access to our judicial system in the United States. If you have money, you have the power...

Your POV that money distorts and helps determine winners, while seeming so prima facie obvious, does not come close to getting to the real problem. I know this because I have money and I've spent well over a million dollars on attorneys in the last decade and I got very little in the way of ... not justice, very little in the way of consideration of the core legal questions in each case; in fact, I don't even know how the interesting core legal questions would have been resolved, the courts completely dodged them; and along the way, I saw a vast amount of phony posturing, amplification of minor details, and outright lying and manipulation of the legal system, mostly by attorneys; and the judges eat it up, because they too are attorneys. (and BTW, when a judge sees an unsophisticated indigent defendant, they actually do bend over backward to help them, say a confused tenant who does not pay rent is most usually given many many more chances.)

To put it into the context of this guy's patent rant: my point would be, there is a question as to whether this patent is valid or not, and whether it covers this particular issue or not. The "right/just" answer would be found more quickly and more cheaply and more rationally if the judge would simply decide that first in a non-binding way, like "from what I know so far, here's the way this is tilted". Then after that, if the losers wanted to spend money to present a stronger case they could, and the judge could say "warmer...warmer... colder". Then after all that, if you want to try to change the thing on a technicality like "yeah but you didn't serve the notice the right way", then the court would hear that.

The way courts decide things is to completely front-load all these arcane minor points, and it has the effect of squeezing the shit out of the litigants to force them to settle. "You think you have a legal dispute that's worth this much? I'll give you dispute resolution that costs more and much of your life. Now do you want to settle? Don't test me, as a judge I'm a former attorney, we win at this game. Now do you want to settle?"

Nothing astounds me more than the Herculean lengths a judge will go to to avoid the 'core legal questions' in a case. Not only in the judgement, but by disallowing even the most basic testimony or evidence to be presented. While this violates due process or 'the principle of natural justice', no judge on appeal ever seems to rule that the lower court judge was acting in an obviously corrupt manner. The fiction of the system of justice has to be preserved.

This is further compounded by how vague judges will be in their decisions in some attempt to prevent a successful appeal. The judgements relation to the facts are so intentionally obtuse.

The supreme court routinely smacks down the federal circuit verbally for not following higher court guidance, but it seems to have no repercussions.
> no judge on appeal ever seems to rule that the lower court judge was acting in an obviously corrupt manner.

There are a few reasons for this: 1. Judges are not legislators. Judges apply the law, and if they don't like the law, or if the law is contradictory, they write a note in the decision asking legistlators to review the law.

2. If a lower-court judge is corrupt, but didn't violate legal procedure, what does "corrupt" mean?

Many judges seem to exert themselves in finding excuses to not have to apply the law, to not have to do their job at all, and to escape consideration of the lawsuit at hand.

A higher court will only consider an error in law from a lower court. But when the lower court commits an violation of natural justice/due process by not even considering what the original lawsuit is about and being incredibly obtuse about what they did consider, a higher court has nothing to rule on.

You are right. Having money equips someone to at least be able to put up a fight to reach a conclusion but that is not the heart of the issue.

Whether you have money or not the real problem is the threat of loss due to the /process/ as opposed the merits and likely result of the case. That is the problem that needs to be solved.

I'm not saying I know how to remove the expense of the process out of the equation but that is what needs to be done.

Your suggestion is a good one. If the result itself is clearer earlier it would take some of the power out of the threat of expensive process.

Many of the issues raised by your comment are the result of civil procedural rules. These rules are not intentionally designed to postpone rulings on the merits, and instead were built on historical understandings of how a dispute should be fairly addressed: 1) communicate problem to adverse party 2) adverse party responds 3) fact-finding 4) written arguments aimed at resolution 5) trial by judge/peers (if necessary).

I don't believe that moving #4 (or even #5) earlier in the process maximizes the possibility of a logically/legally sound conclusion, which IMO, is the purpose of the justice system. Then again, your comment has identified speed as a priority, not a thorough examination of the merits.

If the procedural rules don't offend you, then we might just be talking about expensive lawyers. Not all lawyers are expensive.

Not speed but cost of which time is definitely a factor.

Getting to the merits is the point but the point is often lost in the game of the process. True statement?

>Getting to the merits is the point but the point is often lost in the game of the process. True statement?

True, but you're assuming that the process and the merits are totally distinct (in fact, my own comment reads that way ;]).

But, as another commenter noted, processes themselves can influence merits (e.g. missing a filing deadline, or enforcing discovery requests).

I would love to see more negative publicity used. A PR firm is a fraction of the cost of a law firm but can do a lot more damage to the other side. Unfortunately lawyers have this dogma that says never ever ever ever ever try to use negative publicity. This is obviously self serving. Most lawyers are clueless about social media post AOL and so this would take the battle into unfamiliar territory. Unfortunately the judges are in the same boat: Taking a legal matter to court of public opinion is to them like taking getting your gall bladder removed by a witch doctor.
Wouldn't that just result in a new normal where both sides immediately fight it out in the court of public opinion? How would that be an improvement?
Because it's vastly cheaper and accessible. It's also crowdsourceable and can be done by anybody without having to pass any bar exams.
Negative PR is used; unfortunately, it's used on the judge to turn the judge against the other side. It comes so thick and fast the judges get sick of it... yet, they are influenced by it, and they bluster but issue no pain to the offenders. And don't try it if you are not a lawyer, lawyers in court are a protected class.
I'm one of those hated attorneys. And, in my experience, while there are issues that sometimes may seem to outsiders like pointless minutae that keep people from getting at the real issues, the rules of civil procedure (especially at the federal level) are designed to do exactly what you want: to facilitate getting to the core of the issue as fast as possible (of course, if the core of the issue is a factual question, this can take a while due to pesky things like discovery and jury trials). Without more detail, the problems you describe sound, with respect, like the complaints of someone who does not really understand how litigation works. Maybe if you could put a little meat on the bones I (and we) could understand your criticisms of the system a little better.

In this example, as you say, "there is a question as to whether this patent is valid or not, and whether it covers this particular issue or not." If the defendant thinks those are real issues, then one of the first things the rules would have you do is to file a motion to dismiss arguing exactly those points. If the judge agrees with you, the case is over and you go home. (Of course, there is the possibility that there are other claims that aren't subject to those arguments, or that the plaintiff could amend the complaint to add new legal theories, but that's another story.)

To the extent it is true that courts "completely front-load all these arcane minor points" this is usually true only to the extent that these arcane issues are actually dispositive.

EDIT: Try thinking about it this way: whether an issue is arcane, and not what a person might think is the "real" core of the issue, is sometimes orthogonal to whether that issue is dispositive. And there are usually good reasons for this--though reasons that may not be obvious to non-lawyers. This can, and should, result in courts spending what may seem to the untrained eye like too much time on arcane but dispositive issues in an attempt to resolve a case efficiently.

In my cases, I felt that the court spent time on issues that were not only minor, but the court left them unopined. This just encourages laywers to keep doing it, it earns them more money.

For example, and since you are an attorney I'll let you research this rather than give you the answer, does a signature on a shareholder petition under corporate by-laws require the word "certify" to be a valid signature? How much should be spent determining the answer to that? Seems pretty cut and dried to me, whether it is or is not required it's hardly breaking new legal ground. What's the answer? (and no weaseling out by saying "it depends". If you want to say "it depends", you need to finish the sentence, on what, and in that case the answer is what.)

I have no idea! I'm not a corporate lawyer.

And, frankly, I'm not surprised that it took a fair amount of legal work to figure out the answer. I, like you I take it, have the intuition that the answer should be "no." But I'm also not confident that the answer is not "yes." If the answer is "yes," I'd say the odds are 50/50 that there is a good reason behind it. (If, as one should, you count as a good reason "there is binding precedent in this circuit that says it must use the word 'certify'" then the odds jump to pretty near 100%.)

But I will say that, if you're trying to argue that the legal system is too arcane and complicated, a lawsuit over a "shareholder petition under corporate by-laws" is an exceptionally poor example. This is an especially technical areas of law that, among other things, makes the almost explicit assumption that, given the subject matter, parties will be unusually sophisticated and well resourced.

There is no answer, there is no law, no standard, no precedent, which any "unusually sophisticated" lawyer looking at it for a few minutes would realize. But instead of informing the "unusually sophisticated" court honestly "hey, I had this idea, but I researched it and it doesn't look like there is anything directly applicable" (you know, truth, whole truth, nothing but, and no standing by while the court is misled) lawyers get to raise a huge holy stink about it. After I pay for the huge holy stink, do I get an answer? nope. That means that it could come up again tomorrow and I'd have to pay for it again.

Lawyers have huge laundry lists of these ideas they get to spitball, except they get paid to do it, the more they spitball the more they get paid, and none of it has anything to do with the matter at hand, the legitimate grievance that the two sides have and are trying to resolve.

I just found it on more than one occasion to be unusually playground bullying rather than sophisticated. And on the same-ish topic as sophistication, lawyers like to couch things they say in the cloak of "truth and justice", like for instance, how many times have I heard that the right to petition is so sacrosanct that it's in our Declaration of Independence? Yet went you actually try to pursue a right to petition you are bogged down in lawyerly bullshit.

Not a lawyer, but if this specific issue is important to you, could you define it in your contract or by-laws somewhere?
the language was already in the founding documents. yes, with hindsight, more language could have been added; but what I'm saying is, the language that was there is perfectly clear; it's lawyers and their bullshit who create the need for more language that needs to be written by lawyers and guess what, when that language is ignored, another lawsuit, and more lawyer bullshit. What I'm saying is, the system as practiced is completely broken, and it is the fault of the people who maintain the system, and they are called lawyers.
> Lawyers have huge laundry lists of these ideas they get to spitball, except they get paid to do it, the more they spitball the more they get paid

This is a pretty weird way to look at it. I would have thought it went more like this: opposing lawyers come up with some clever arguments to oppose your claim. One of them, I take it, was that the signatures on the petition were not valid because the word "certify" did not appear. Because the lawyers on the other side made this argument, your lawyers had to respond to it to reduce the chances that you would lose the case. Presumably the judge did not rule on that particular question because you wound up losing the case on some other ground (or settling). Is that right?

I should also add: I'm not here to argue that lawyers are always good at their jobs and that they always give issues the attention they deserve (no more and no less). This sort of risk assessment is a big part of the job, and it's not always easy. And when there is a lot of money involved, it can be rational to spend a lot of money to address relatively small risks. It could also have been that the certification question was a stupid one that your lawyers should only have spent an hour or two on. But instead, through poor judgment or something else, chose to go waaaay down the rabbit hole. I have no idea. But these things do happen. Lawyers are people, after all. One particular set of lawyers' poor judgment (if that is indeed what actually happened) is not a deep flaw in our legal system.

(By the way: what does the Constitutional "Right to Petition" have to do with any of this? I hope you don't think it has anything to do with your shareholder petition case, since the Constitution only protects your right to "petition the GOVERNMENT for a redress of grievances." It doesn't protect your right to bring a shareholder petition, and it most certainly does not protect your right to win every lawsuit that you think you're entitled to win.)

thanks for asking what does "constitutional right to petition" have to do with this, by thinking about how to explain it I figured out what I meant overall. I meant it in the sense that "rights to petition" and "rights to vote" are so fundamental they flow into documents such as the Constitution rather than flowing from it.

Rights to petition are, in a sense, even more fundamental than the right to vote, because historically speaking many undemocratic systems have been sustained because they listen to petitions. The worst dictators are the ones who kill you for petitioning.

This lawsuit I'm talking about was about both rights to vote and rights to petition and the lawsuit asked for nothing but rights to vote. They were gauranteed by the legal documents, ignored by the board, and only a lawyer would twist the very clear wording to say something else, based on standards that do not actually exist; and only a judge who was an attorney would listen to such crap.

I can see that in a messier case you might see a reason for seemingly nonsensical procedures, but this was so clean that all the worthlessness of our legal system was exposed. And I chose the Declaration not the Constitution because it also lays out "or you lose your claim to authority" which is pretty much how I feel to.

> one of the first things the rules would have you do is to file a motion to dismiss arguing exactly those points.

Great! How much would getting to that point typically cost a defendant in the case of a fairly obvious bullshit patent?

Possibly quite a bit, if you want it done well. And that's a problem. But that has little to do with the point I was making.
Where do the "quite a bit" costs come from then, if they don't come from the arcana?
Not really. They usually come from the fact that legal services are just exceptionally expensive. This, in turn, is largely driven by the fact that, for companies with a lot of money and a lot at stake, legal services are also exceptionally valuable. This drives up rates across the entire industry.

There are other dynamics as well, but I think this one dominates.

I wasn't disagreeing, i was asking earnestly.

Also, you didn't answer the question as asked. If the goal is "file motion telling judge 'patent is not valid' without doing literally anything else", what exactly is the money spent on?

And I meant to give an earnest answer! If you are the defendant in a relatively simple patent case, where the patent is clearly invalid, the right procedural move is probably a motion to dismiss, which could come right at the beginning of the litigation. But merely drafting that motion will be costly, simply due to the cost of legal services.

EDIT: Of course, it often is not actually clear whether a patent is valid and enforceable or not. This could require evidence from experts about obviousness, prior art, etc. Assembling all of this in a way that is fair to both sides, and presenting it to the court in a way that is clear and compelling, is difficult, as one might expect. So this idealized situation may not be too common.

EDIT 2: In case it's not obvious, this shouldn't be taken as legal advice. Every situation is different, so you should hire yourself a lawyer, and not act based on general ruminations you read on the Internet by people like me. I am not your lawyer.

Ok, i guess you simply underestimated just how little the layman knows. :D

> drafting that motion

I'm going by this particular case, where the patent is obvious and patent bullshit. I would imagine that here a motion would be a form letter that could be handled in less than an hour? (Going by experiences in the german law system where i've seen a form letter to an unpaying client go out, cost and take effect, for half an hour billed.)

And yeah, in other cases it may be less obvious. I'm only talking about the case at hand, and other similar ones, where the patent can be seen to be invalid by anyone with good high school education and above.

Heck, shouldn't it be possible to informally request from the judge to say whether he already sees the patent is bullshit or not?

Whether you want to just rely on a short letter is, I guess, a matter of your appetite for risk. Ideally you would at least provide some argument about why the patent is unenforceable. (In fact, most jurisdictions have rules that require this sort of explanation.) And this would be framed knowing that the other side will have potentially very talented lawyers arguing that it is enforceable.

Since you don't get to file an unlimited number of motions to dismiss on the same topic (for obvious reasons), most litigants find that they want to put a substantial amount of effort into making their case as persuasive as possible before a judge sees it, even if the matter is fairly straightforward. It's the lawyer's job to help the client understand these levels of risk, and the client's job to decide how much money he wants to spend, given those risks.

Wow, a real patent lawyer in a patent law thread. You don't belong here, but I'll upvote whatever you have to write.

I have a comment and a question:

The comment. Summary judgement does not accomplish what I think sheepleherd was proposing. As you say, if you get a summary judgment against you, you go home. That means that a judge has to be convinced that there is definitely no case in order to issue one. What's needed, rather, is a speedy determination of who seems to be in the right. It should not be final but should determine who pays going forward.

The question. What do you see as the problem in cases like this? Or do you see a problem?

Well, first of all, I have to confess: I'm not a patent lawyer. I'm a regulatory lawyer.

And, just so we have our terminology straight, summary judgment is actually different from the motion-to-dismiss phase I was describing. In super simple terms, the latter happens after the parties have has the chance to gather evidence and seeks to determine whether it is legally possible for a party to win at trial. Therefore it occurs late in litigation, after parties have already spent a lot of money (but still before trial). The former typically occurs before evidence is even gathered to determine whether the plaintiff could legally win even if all of his or her allegations were factually true.

As for the threshold fee-shifting idea: I think it's probably not a good one. There are cases where it could help, but if the judge gets her threshold determination wrong, then it makes life even harder for a less wealthy litigant. The simplest solution, which many countries have implemented, is simply a loser pays system for legal fees. I'm not sure this is ideal either, but I think it is at least better.

There also is usually a possibility that the judge could require the loser to pay after the fact, if she determines that the case was especially un-meritorious. Another possible reform would be to loosen the standard that judges apply in choosing whether to award fees in this way.

Patent lawyer or no, you're still more qualified than the average participant.

I'm not sure what criteria you're using to judge that the proposal would be worse for a less wealthy litigant. Surely the proposal would be better in cases where one side is clearly right? The cost of patent litigation is currently huge. The only way a non-wealthy litigant can participate is with lawyers on contingency. No?

But I suspect fixing the legal costs is only a part of the patent problem. My understanding is that cases like the OP regularly go to verdict and find for the troll.

I was pointing out a thought process that I thought would work better and more rationally (it's the way parents adjudicate disputes, i.e. what's really at stake here, and yes, parents do get to legislate) rather than making an "official proposal".

But inasmuch as it was an official proposal, the proposition was not that the all costs would shift to one party; it was that if you lost the preliminary ruling on the main point you could decide if you wanted to spend money on further litigation or look for a settlement; in a more nuanced way, if the preliminary ruling was 80-20 culpability/damages conceivably the winner might also wish to litigate further. I wasn't shifting the legal costs, I was educating the decisions along the way.

There potentially is something to be gained from more "loser pays" legal fees, but I was not making that proposal.

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TLDW - Patent troll sues Xplane creator after he migrated his app to the Google play store. They claim they own the general idea of the Google play store. Law firms create these cases for billable hours for their lawyers and some of their parent judges in Texas. Patent trolls and law firms in the end want to receive a settlement by targeting app creators and not Google themselves who are well equipped to defend themselves, .
Wow, does this happen to many people who put their stuff on Google Play? What about the Apple App Store?

Seems like Google/Apple should step in and cover the costs of being sued by a patent troll for using their platform... if they don't want developers to be discouraged from using it.

Then again, particularly in Apple's case, it's not like the developers have much of a choice.

Logically, how is this even possible? Xplane does not own Google Play Store and Xplane is not aware that Google is violating a patent then how is Xplane responsible for the patent violation? This strikes me a 15 minute conversation in front of a judge. "Sir, I did not know Google was violating a patent and I have withdrawn my application after being told so" and that should be the end of it.
Because this particular judge refuses to throw out illegitimate patent cases because he's corrupt as fuck. He recently retired, but presumably someone else just filled his place.
Someone with money and lawyers needs to sue the state of Texas for allowing a father and son duo to practice in such a conflict of interest fashion. This is a clear cut case of corruption.
I'm not sure where exactly this assertion stands - Judge Davis retires last year, and in 2011 when Lodsys was represented by his son's firm, their cases were always assigned to the other district judge (Gilsap I believe?) due to the conflict of interest.

It's sensational and scummy sounding, so it really fits the narrative of the evil patent trolls (a narrative I wholeheartedly support), I don't see any reason to believe it's true.

Ah! I didn't know that! I was going on what the guy in the video said.
Suing the state to stop patent lawsuits is not going to work. Hiring an army of lobbyists and giving campaign donations liberally might work though.
You're suggesting to use one systemic corruption to fight the other! That might solve the one problem in the short term (maybe), but legitimizing that sort of strategy for affecting change just means that in the end the most corruptest one with the biggest army of lobbyists and campaign donations is going to call the shots. Hey it's your country, but maybe just think about that for a second.
Isn't this the federal court system? Not sure: is Texas even able to do anything about this?
I'm not even sure where to begin with this :) First, you can't sue a state without their permission, they have sovereign immunity. Second, you would have no standing unless you were directly affected Third, outside of violating non-binding legal ethics rules, it's not clear what law you think this somehow violates.

The state can pretty much do whatever it wants here.

Plus, all of this is federal anyway, so suing the state of texas would accomplish nothing.

Outside of random statutes, your best bet would probably be due process violations, but ...

A lawsuit might not be appropriate, but there is a separate 'right to petition the government' for that.
Sure. However, note the supreme court has not, AFAIK, held a right to sue in general:

They have essentially grounded these claims in due process violations, etc, and then found a right to file those lawsuits. Not a right to sue for anything.

When they have tried to find rights in the right to petition (and i will grant that historically, it included a right to sue), it has been cases where someone is directly trying to affect a constitutional right.

Also nobody has to give a damn about what you say:

"Nothing in the First Amendment or in this Court's case law interpreting it suggests that the rights to speak, associate, and petition require government policymakers to listen or respond to communications of members of the public on public issues."

States' rights, Fuck yeah!
Correct, this situation is 100% a creature of Congress and several Administrations, the actual state of Texas has nothing to do with it.
America needs to follow New Zealand's example:

Ban software patents!

Software is not patentable in Brazil either.

Honest question: have anyone seen any software innovation been really protected by a patent litigation? All articles I have seen are about trolls.

Well if you're going to ask that question, I'm going to ask a corollary:

Has anyone seen any innovation that has been really protected by patents, that couldn't have been protected merely with trade secrets and industrial capability (i.e., big companies are physically and organizationally able to make things that small companies cannot due to their resources, therefore they're really the last ones to need patent protection, but they're also the ones most able to afford spending huge sums of money on patent fees and enforcement)?

Medicine, for example, they have to tell what's inside the bottle.
In the video, he says that the politicians stopped the issue from even being voted on. That's without Silicon Valley stepping in to really lobby against that kind of ban (NZ has no equivalent of SV)
Big companies in Silicon Valley can defend themselves, so they don't care. It's small businesses that are affected.

And big companies do not really want competition from small businesses.

The main site is:

I found a bunch of security flaws, hosts and user credentials.

Now they're here:

Bulls hit if it does not have a patent pending sticker then anything can be shared or used by another person So come on with da game dumbasses check ya shit before posting to make it look real!!!
How do you americans still allow East Texas to be a part of the United States? They're clearly rogue?
So do not register your company in the USA, otherwise you have to deal with patent trolls.
welcome to a political system (and indeed a world) run by lawyers.
And the 'democratic' party just 'nominated' a lawyer-at-heart as well, who has perfectly demonstrated that lawyeresque doublespeak can shield you from any blame or responsibility of actions that would have lesser plebeians dishonored, fired on the spot, jailed or any combination thereof.

I guess we must secretly love getting screwed over.

What's the current state of assassination markets these days?
Bulls hit if it does not have a patent pending sticker then anything can be shared or used by another person So come on with da game dumbasses check ya shit before posting to make it look real!!!
And this people, is what you get for $5 when you buy SEO services from
All the Mobile Marketplaces are on fire. Nice.

Posted from my Windows Phone 8.1

At least that totally rad cliff diving video that YouTube queued up afterwards was a nice chaser.
Might have been specifically recommended for you. Mine was different.
It's time to call in John Oliver...He's our last and only hope!
He's already done a video on this, the same guy was featured in it
A couple of misconceptions in this video. Patent infringement is not a crime. A son lawyer appearing in front of his judge father would not be allowed for conflict of interest in most circumstances.

That being said, patent trolling is obviously a problem, and legislation to fix the problem is making its way through Congress.

I say we all write to our congress members to help make this legislation pass. It may be naive of me to think such emails will have any impact at all, but it's all we can do, right?
1) Did he say crime? I don't think he ever did.

2) He never said the son appeared in front of his judge father. I'm almost 100% on that too.

So misconceptions in what you misheard, I guess.

Right. The son doesn't have to appear in front of his father to benefit from his father furthering east Texas's reputation of being patent-troll friendly.
He said crime.

If the son is not appearing in front of the judge, then the judge's rulings don't benefit the son in any way. If you are arguing the judge's ruling is somehow affecting the reputation of the court and attracting cases, the lawyers know it is only that judge, unless you are implying some sort of conspiracy among the federal judges to be patent troll-friendly.

I'm not arguing that. HE appears to be though.
He did say crime but not in a way that meant criminal justice crime. More of a "I am guilty of the crime of being beautiful"
I'm not sure if this would help, but I think we should all tweet a link to this video clip to John Oliver.

or maybe this twitter account

He has already covered it once:
A comment from a reddit thread states: The gist behind this case is that the Judge's son owns patent law firm in East Texas where they often represent both sides. This guy doesn't live in East Texas. However, the dad lets these stupid cases into the town to bring business to his son. Really shady.

I agree with clavelle's comment. It's not so much the laws, but the system that allows this to occur.

Link here:

It's worse than that.

The situation is that with patent suits able to be brought anywhere and brought in East Texas by preference, a significant amount of that areas economy is now based on this racket and so the culture of the area is very oriented towards enable patent trolls, especially given a general contempt of outsiders characteristic of a small town.

In the pre-Internet era, one needed to take an unlucky to get murdered or shaken down by the corrupt culture of Smokey And The Bandit style US small towns. The ambiguity of the law and the convenience of entrenched interests now means that

It's been going on for a long time. Recent article:

2006 article:

Choice quote: "'During the TiVo-EchoStar trial, 90 percent of my revenue for one month came from one of the law firms in the case,' said Phillip W. Gurganus, manager of the local 68-room Hampton Inn, where rates run $77 a night." Guess what he'd chose if got on a jury? Certainly a decision that kept business in East Texas.

According to the wikipedia page for the Eastern District of Texas both of the judges he names are retired from the court, one in 2011 and one in 2015. How does he claim in 2016 that these judges are presiding on his case and cases like it?
He got sued in 2012, and it's still going.
Perhaps they are on senior status:
No, they both show as retired from the court. They're both in private practice now.
Well, he did say it has been going on for many many years.
It is more than shady; it looks like glaringly unethical behavior. The nepotism and conflict of interest are completely clear.
> This guy doesn't live in East Texas. However, the dad lets these stupid cases into the town to bring business to his son. Really shady.

How is this not legally considered a conflict of interest in cases where the judge had relation to one side of the case? I don't know much about the law system but I would assume their are provisions in place to prevent these types of conflicts.

It's in the US and I find it hard to believe that noone has so far shot these kind of scammers. Aim right, citizen! For the greater good!
I think that's the typical US for you.
Harry Brown lives in the U.K. unfortunately.
Did you even watch the video? He says it right on there.
That's true, but please edit did-you-even-read challenges out of your posts to HN. That's in the site guidelines:

It's enough to just point out what the article/video says, like your second sentence does.

> The gist behind this case is that the Judge's son owns patent law firm in East Texas where they often represent both sides.

Isn't this a blatant conflict of interest? If this isn't grounds for disbarment, what is?

Maybe the firm doesn't represent both sides simultaneously. Maybe they usually represent the patent troll, but if someone needs a patent troll defense lawyer they'll do that too. Basically, as long as patent litigation is in town, business is good.
That helps, but the judge working cases his son's law firm also works is pretty bad too.
Oh absolutely. The judge is entertaining all those patent cases simply because it's good for his son's law practice. Unacceptable.
IANAL but according to Wikipedia, being related to the judge is grounds for the judge to recuse him/herself from a case

To be clear, Meyer does not allege anything of that sort in the clip. He says, "Bo Davis is a lawyer in the Eastern District of Texas that represents patent trolls and their victims. Bo Davis is Judge Leonard Davis's son working a law practice in the very same district in which his father is a judge. So, if Judge Leonard Davis can encourage more patent trolls to bring more lawsuits into the Eastern District of Texas, his son is one of the people that's gonna rack up the billable hours."

So there's no allegation that Judge Davis (now retired) actually presided over any of his son's cases, merely that his son stood to benefit from the overall patent-troll friendly climate of the Eastern District court. Not really a clear-cut recusal situation. If anything, the fact that his son's firm represents trolls and victims alike meant there was less reason for a specific bias on behalf of the judge.

Good points, thanks for clearing that up.

The bit about "specific bias" is interesting. I wouldn't assume that the judge is biased for or against patent trolls, but his position gives him reason to be biased for patent trolling, which isn't quite the same. It would be to the advantage of his son to make a big deal out of cases which don't deserve it. Accepting cases about ridiculous patents would do that, as would encouraging trials for patent cases which are obviously legitimate.

Whether that's happening or not I have no idea, but he clearly has an incentive to keep things stirred up in this area.

>>Not really a clear-cut recusal situation.

One of those 3 letter federal agencies, that government spends $billions on, needs to look at this "not really clear cut situation".

This corruption is a government feature, not a bug. Washington needs trial lawyer money and has had trouble figuring out how to fleece Silicon Valley directly, so trial lawyer patent abuse is a win-win for Congress and the Obama Administration. Remember-- the entire basis of this nonsense is the patent office issuing vague patents, everything is running exactly to plan.
Just to add to this. I am sure the legal community in East Texas is close knit. There may never be blatant impropriety, but no one wants to be on the wrong side of a judge in town.

(i.e the Judges Son tries a case with a different Judge in town, but that Judge is buddies with the other Judges.)

Jun 07, 2016 · 11 points, 0 comments · submitted by whistlerbrk
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