Back during the RIM-NTP patent battle, one of the sleazier moves pulled
by NTP was to have the widow of the patent holder write a letter
about what a "gross injustice" was being done to her in the case. It was purely an
attempt to influence the case for sympathetic rather than legal reasons.
There are plenty of folks out there who have bogus patents -- and
there's no reason to grant them rewards just because they've had some
personal hardships. However, it looks like Global Patent Holdings (GPH)
is taking this strategy to a new level. GPH, if you don't recall, holds
the extremely questionable JPEG patent
that has basically been used to
people that patent attorney Ray Niro doesn't like. The Troll Tracker notes some
interesting language used in a recent filing
resort in Boca Raton.
In the filing, the lawyers play up the fact that the inventors named on
the patent made very little money in 2006 and have some health problems
(actually, it discusses one inventor and the other inventor's widow). In fact, it gets worse than that. In another filing, GPH points out that the inventors are old and "feeble"
Again, it's not clear what the personal, health and financial problems
of the inventors has to do with the validity of the patent or the claims
of infringement. It seems to be purely an attempt to gain sympathy.
Also, as someone in the comments on the Troll Tracker site notes, why
focus on 2006, rather than 2007? The suggestion is that given how
aggressively GPH has pushed to license the patent since last year,
perhaps their income was substantially higher in 2007. Elsewhere, though, GPH notes that it owns the patents entirely, meaning that who the inventors are is somewhat meaningless -- but why let that stop the company from pushing for sympathy.
Either way, the filing then goes even further in pushing for the
sympathy vote, noting that the resort in question is owned by a private
equity firm in New York that was somehow loosely involved in the
subprime loan crisis. Again, this obviously has nothing to do with
whether or not the company is infringing on a patent by putting a JPEG
image on its site -- but is being used to make the company look like a
big bad evil giant. So, now the case is positioned as big multi-billion
dollar subprime-mess-contributing NY-based private equity firm against
poor, weak, sick inventors.
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