Rackspace Helps Kill A Patent Troll: Rotating Your Smartphone Is No Longer Infringing

from the bogus-patents dept

Over the last few years it's been great to see companies like Newegg and Rackspace decide that they're not going to give in to bogus patent troll lawsuits. As we've discussed, it's almost always easier, faster and cheaper to just settle and pay up whatever the troll is asking for. That's part of why trolling works. Fighting a patent lawsuit -- even a totally bogus one (i.e., not infrigning) -- on a clearly invalid patent will still cost many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. If the troll is offering to settle for tens of thousands of dollars, many, many companies will do the obvious short-term cost-benefit analysis and settle. It's hard to directly fault them for this -- but it only makes the problem worse for everyone else. Not only does it fund the patent trolls to keep suing others, often they'll use some of that money to buy more bogus patents and shake down companies over that new ones as well. On top of that, settling patent threats just puts a big "sucker" sign on your company, meaning that more trolls will start circling. Making a stand and saying that you will not compromise or deal with trolls actually helps in the long run by scaring off some trolls. Both Newegg and Rackspace have been getting a lot of publicity (and goodwill) for their anti-troll efforts.

Rackspace has successfully defeated a patent troll called Rotatable Technologies by having its patent (US Patent 6,326,978) invalidated:
Rotatable owned a patent that it claimed covers the screen rotation technology that comes standard in just about every smartphone. You know, when you flip your device sideways and the screen shifts orientation from portrait mode to landscape mode? Like nearly all the apps in the Apple and Android app stores, Rackspace uses standard functionality provided by Apple’s libraries and Android open source software to provide this display feature in our mobile cloud applications.

Rotatable sued us and immediately asked for $75,000 to go away. We refused. And we fought. It’s Rackspace policy to not pay off patent trolls, even if it costs us more to fight. Eventually Rotatable offered to just walk away – but we refused again. Just as we promised last year, we challenged the patent and the USPTO invalidated it.
As Rackspace says, the company is now "an ex-patent troll." Kudos to Rackspace for fighting and winning, rather than giving in to the troll.
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Filed Under: patent troll, patents, rotatable screens
Companies: newegg, rackspace


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  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 25 Sep 2014 @ 4:27am

    Re: Re: Re: What if the loser had to pay the court costs?

    That was due to Rackspace taking the patent up with the USPTO though, I doubt the judge in the case(assuming it even got that far, trolls tend to be extremely allergic to cross examination in any court room not located in East Texas)had anything to do with it, given the following line:

    '...we challenged the patent and the USPTO invalidated it.'

    While losing the patent is nice, Rackspace is still on the hook for any legal costs they may have incurred(don't need to go to court for that to start adding up after all), which is one of the reasons such extortion schemes are so effective: Even if you win, you can still have spend an obscene amount of money defending yourself, and both sides know it.

    If however the judges awarded legal fees in such cases more often, the risk for patent trolls would be much higher, and they'd be much less likely to try and shake down anyone and everyone who looked like an easy payday. As well, if those on the receiving end of the shakedown letters knew that if they won they'd get reimbursed on their legal fees, they'd be much more likely to risk fighting.

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