back to article Ice-cold Kaspersky shows the industry how to handle patent trolls

Security house Kaspersky Lab scored an impressive legal win that saw it not only beat a patent troll, but actually collect money from the plaintiff in the process. The Russian antivirus vendor said that it collected a $5,000 payment to agree to drop a patent infringement case where it was the defendant, after the litigator …

  1. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    In two minds...

    Yes, it's good to stick it to the troll, but I'd rather have the patent invalidated - this still leaves others open to nuisance suits.

    Not that it's Kasperky's problem - it's a problem with the system of "patent first, litigate later".

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: In two minds...

      Having to settle like this is already a massive slap in the face for the troll and makes it more likely others will push back too. Especially if Kaspersky gets the word out about it. Even this simple settlement, although low in payout could be enough to make this particular patent useless for any further trolling.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: In two minds...

        This trick only works because the troll had no backing. If the troll was being backed by another major firm, then the firm may not just be out for money (could be seeking an injunction to interfere with the defendant's business) so would be willing to gamble on the courts and/or appeals process.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: In two minds...

          If the troll gets major backing then the defendant will get that too - after all they stand a very high chance of getting their money back* after the patent is invalidated.

          * ok the trolls could go bust and not cough up but that would be worth a couple of quid.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: In two minds...

            "If the troll gets major backing then the defendant will get that too - after all they stand a very high chance of getting their money back* after the patent is invalidated."

            Not necessarily, if it becomes a case of two gorillas in the courtroom. Consider the MPEG-LA v. Google dispute over video codecs. They eventually settled the case because neither side wanted it to go nuclear (Google could lose claim to VP8 being unencumbered, MPEG-LA could lose vital patents related to MPEG-4 codecs).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: In two minds...

          I like how you still call them a troll though. Hahaha. And the reason is because even in the alternative, it is still trolling.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In two minds...

      But it might also be said to be the problem of companies who don't tak a stand against trolling, preffering instead to pay the trolls off. It's clear to everyone the current system is faulty. and companies also know this, but they pay the torlls anyway.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: In two minds...

        Because as faulty as the current system is, any alternative is likely to be more faulty, making status quo the least evil option.

  2. Nick Kew

    Did the pirates make it too easy?

    Thinking back to the reporting of a much bigger and more celebrated IP case, SCO refused for a very long time to be specific about its claims and identify the IP of which it alleged violation.

    This time, they specified "US Patent nnnnn", which would seem to make it a lot easier (and thus cheaper and less painful) to defend. Not that I'd wish even that on an honest business.

    1. thames

      Re: Did the pirates make it too easy?

      With the SCO case though, SCO's main financial backer wasn't interested in getting settlement money. They wanted to spread FUD about Linux to eliminate competition with their own OS and it dovetailed in with their own direct FUD campaign.. SCO's own plan was to get bought out by IBM before the case made it to trial, as they didn't really have any evidence.

      The money that SCO extracted from various small and mid-sized retailers, utilities, and other non-IT companies that paid them to go away was not large and was a pittance compared to their legal fees. When SCO did go to court against companies like Chrysler who had the money and inclination to fight, they got their arse handed to them.

      The biggest scandals in the SCO case were how a certain very large software company was financing SCO via the back door, how certain US courts behaved in a disreputable manner to favour people with the "right" connections, and how when when SCO declared bankruptcy the names of certain SCO supporting IT columnists (none in the Reg though) turned up in the records being listed as having received substantial sums of money from SCO.

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    What are lawmakers doing?

    Patent trolling exists for long, and there's still no law to block the scam. Why don't lawmakers do their job? Do they get money from the trolls?

    1. Nick Kew
      Pirate

      Re: What are lawmakers doing?

      It's more than just political funding, it's economic imperialism.

      US companies lead the world in (extremely) dodgy patents, and are aided by the legal system in asserting those, particularly against non-US companies. Look at how NTP effectively destroyed RIM[1] before those patents were finally invalidated: once that case was sucking its lifeblood, the one-time leading-edge innovator was drained externally by having to pay the pirates, and (I speculate) internally by a culture whose emphasis had been turned from innovation to litigation.

      [1] The Canadian company that brought us the blackberry phone.

    2. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: What are lawmakers doing?

      It has been said that the US has the best government money can buy. 9 of the 10 richest communities in America are in the Washington DC metro area. Elections are not cheap, and those that give the most money do not do it because they like the politician or believe his message; they do it because they want special favors in return. All politician's jobs are to get elected or re-elected. The needs of the You and I are a distant third. The wants of the ones that help him get elected are at the top of the list.

    3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: What are lawmakers doing?

      Patent trolling exists for long, and there's still no law to block the scam

      OK smarty pants - write a definition of a patent troll ! it must be clear and unambiguous, able to stand up in court, and most importantly it must NOT prevent any legitimate patent holder from defending their rights.

      Before you start, have a look at this Wikipedia article and see if you can see the parallels.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: What are lawmakers doing?

        > definition of a patent troll

        Simple. Anyone that litigates patents... but hasn't implemented/manufactured/produced a single patented product.

        Any legitimate patent holder will have actually made a product that they want to protect.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: What are lawmakers doing?

          "Anyone that litigates patents... but hasn't implemented/manufactured/produced a single patented product."

          Well that's ARM fucked, then...

          1. keith_w

            Re: What are lawmakers doing?

            I would think that Arm's licensing the designs to multiple outside companies would count as "implemented"

          2. keith_w

            Re: What are lawmakers doing?

            Also, do ARM patent or copyright their designs?

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: What are lawmakers doing?

          "Any legitimate patent holder will have actually made a product that they want to protect."

          unfortunately, this cannot be held up as a requirement for a patent. the inventor can sell his invention (via the patent) to anyone, and doesn't require a working device in order to patent it. I think the presumption is that if it doesn't work, the patent is worthless anyway.

          A requirement to publish patents and/or properly describe them might be helpful to stop predatory lawsuits from happening. Or not, considering l[aw]yers are involved.

        3. phuzz Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: What are lawmakers doing?

          "Simple. Anyone that litigates patents... but hasn't implemented/manufactured/produced a single patented product."

          So I invent a better kind of mousetrap, and patent it, but while I'm trying to get funding to build a factory, Evil corp reads my patent and starts making their own version. Under your definition of 'patent troll' I wouldn't be able to take them to court because I'd not actually produced anything (yet).

          Of course, I could produce some handmade prototypes and claim them as 'products', but then so could a patent troll. (In this case Wetro Lan could have knocked up a box that "filter[ed] data packets by providing non-user-configurable authorization data", without actually selling it to anyone).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd like to patent

    Trolls breathing.

    Give them the option to pay up or just stop.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd like to patent

      And if the troll is a zombie, too, meaning it DOESN'T breathe?

  5. Roland6 Silver badge

    Am I a patent troll?

    The Kaspersky tactic, by comparison, is far more tame, but could be a much easier blueprint for other companies to follow in dealing with patent troll claims.

    I see a method patent application here...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "I see a method patent application here..."

      And in the US, where most of this dodgy s**t originates from you could have it.

      1. ylangylang

        Re: "I see a method patent application here..."

        this is retarded. there's clearly a difference between the inventors and the legal system that is supposed to protect them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Am I a patent troll?

      Too late -- you have publically disclosed it and you are not the inventor (so no grace period for you).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to do with hurricanes hitting Eastern Texas?

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Ahah, someone who knows where the patent trolls mostly lurk and fester! Patent reform has long been called for in the US tech industry since allowing low-quality patents to flood the system not only enables trolls to file abusive lawsuits but it also denigrates gains realised under Alice v. CLS Bank

      "“Did you represent all these people?” “No. I sued them. See, there’s me with Stevie Wonder. He never saw it coming.”

      Patent troll in Silicon Valley, Season 4 E7

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Like it!

    I would have preferred they had settled for $5,000 plus legal costs, but I their method sets a very nice example

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Like it!

      I'm sure they'd like to, but they weren't going to get their initial $10,000 as it was, and had to settle.

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Snowball?

    Hopefully.

    Newegg started it rolling, and the more that join in the better. Just hoping it reaches critical mass soon when all the weaklings will jump on.

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Blame Ronald Reagan.

    Under his Presidency the UPTO was gutted, software patents allowed (despite lots of prior art and "Well known to a practitioner skilled in the are" defense, IE a knowledgeable programmer who read the literature) and generally started the s**t system we know today.

    A sizeable strength of a troll is their "unbeaten" track record.

    But start dragging them to court and making them burn cash and that can change real fast. Like all bullies they seek weakness and fear. But once one breaks them then they start to crumble.

    As others noted SCO lasted for decades by not specifying exactly what was being infringed (thanks Microsoft for bankrolling them. In a fair system you'd have been charged as well).

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Blame Ronald Reagan.

      Your first paragraph is the problem in an nutshell. And it's not just software but also hardware and even trademarks (the Uber case comes to mind). Once the UPTO stopped researching and started rubber-stamping everything, it became a free-for-all for lawyers and patent trolls.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Blame Ronald Reagan.

        Well, you can't have everything. For the USPTO to work properly, they need funding, and Congress is against using the general revenues, so the only way it could work is to raise patent fees. A LOT. Which means the little guy who just wants to protect his neat invention is priced out of the market.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Blame Ronald Reagan.

      Yes, under Reagan, applicants became "customers" and the philosophy changed from "Why do you deserve this patent?" to "Why should you not have this patent?".

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Blame Ronald Reagan.

        Well, at least one can see the mindset. It's like I said; they didn't want inventors priced out of patents and hassled with red tape, but everything has a catch. Easier patents mean more junk patents, but OTOH tougher patent standards discourage garage inventors. You really can't have it both ways. Do you want to give garage inventors a chance ("The American Dream!") or do you want to keep frivolity out of the patent office? Pick your poison.

  10. Nimby
    Unhappy

    Not a win.

    Personally, I am disappointed that Kaspersky didn't finish it. Here they could have invalidated a junk patent and bankrupted the troll. Instead they gave the troll a cheap escape hatch that left the rest of the world open to repeat offenses on the same patent, potentially even by the same troll. So their message to trolls was, "It's okay, we forgive you?" Consider me less than impressed.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "Here they could have invalidated a junk patent and bankrupted the troll. Instea"

      Has your company ever had a visit from a troll?

      What did it do?

      Kaspersky did enough to scare this troll off and make others think twice about going after them. They may dial it up a notch next time if the same company comes back.

      They are not the "World Police" of patent trolls. Nor should they have to be.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a win.

      Not sure how this is Kaspersky's problem though. The existing patent system allowed that troll to send out its complaints. It was clear to anyone in the industry that the patent was bogus, yet there it was, in court, wasting tax dollars and people's time.

    3. ylangylang

      Re: Yes a win.

      But Wetro Lan sued other companies too. And those companies paid up a settlement and allowed Wetro Lan to continue on trolling. Why aren't those companies not being criticized for paying criminals to continue committing crimes?

      Consider me considering you stupid.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Yes a win.

        Because sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. Especially for companies running on the razor's edge so can't afford the time, money, and/or energy or a court battle.

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