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Wednesday, 18 September 2013 08:39

Company sues patent troll for extortion

Written by Nick Farrell

Acting like the Mafia

FindTheBest CEO Kevin O'Connor, who also cofounded online ad giant DoubleClick, has penned a stiff letter to tech sites declaring war on Patent trolls. In August, O'Connor pledged $1 million of his own money to fight the troll that went after his company. Now it looks like the unfortunate troll is finding itself being charged with extortion and violating racketeering laws.

Lumen View sued Findthebest $50,000 for violating its patent for a system "multilateral decision-making." However O'Connor and FindTheBest Director of Operations Danny Seigle simply started making phone calls and rang up the lead inventor listed on the patent. Lumen View's lawyer accused O'Connor of committing a "hate crime" by calling the inventor, Eileen Shapiro of Hillcrest Group and threatened her with criminal charges. In response O'Connor has taken the troll to court using a law known as the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organisations (RICO) act. It is only the third time that this has happened. Cisco tried it against Innovatio, a patent troll that was threatening coffee shops and small hotel chains, but it didn't work.

Lumen View owns lots of patents of "do it on the Internet" type ideas—like one on sending out a press release online. It used this one to sue several PR companies in 2010, including some small ones. O’Connor said that it was clear that the troll just wants to collect a cheque without doing anything. It refused to tell us how we were infringing. Every sentence ended in "let's settle." FindTheBest's RICO lawsuit uses language like "extortion" to describe Lumen View's business practices.

Lumen's attorney made the claim that calling someone a "patent troll" was actually a "hate crime" under “Ninth Circuit precedent." Lumen View attorneys threatened to file criminal charges unless FindTheBest settled the civil case immediately, apologised, and gave financial compensation to Shapiro. The offer was good until close of business that day. The letter makes technological demands which required a company’s computers shut down and taken out of the building, as part of the judicial process.

Lumen uses the legal discovery process, not to investigate and prove their patent infringement claims, but to merely harass, intimidate, injure, and annoy.

"There's a lot of outrageous stories, but everyone's so damn afraid of coming forward—It's like going against the Mafia," he said.

Nick Farrell

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