California business owner funds patent fight with personal funds

Los Angeles businesses know about trolls, which are nothing like imaginary trolls defeated by magic passwords or correct answers to trick questions. In the competitive world of business, doing battle with a troll takes time, legal advice and money – none of which small and new companies usually have in ample supply.

Patent trolls are the names given to companies that own idled patents and feast off of licensing fees and patent infringement settlements and damages. The practice is considered unsavory, since patent trolls often accumulate and sit on undeveloped patents. Troll companies profit from patents only by enforcing them.

The founder of California’s FindTheBest.com, a website network that matches consumers with high-quality items, is in a patent battle that’s become personal. The owner is willing to pay $1 million out of pocket to fend off Lumen View Technology’s attempts to cash in on his business.

FindTheBest is one of more than 20 companies that have been sued by Lumen View over a method patent. Lumen View initial offered to settle for an $85,000 licensing agreement. The patent owner was infuriated when FindTheBest directly contacted the disputed patent’s inventor and demanded immediate payment. The FTB founder responded by filing a separate complaint alleging extortion.

Lumen View is accused of creating shell companies to intimidate businesses into paying licensing fees over flimsy patent infringement claims. A judge suspended Lumen View’s lawsuit until the company can produce infringement proof. The racketeering case against Lumen View is moving forward.

Every patent lawsuit has two sides. Patents may be idled for sound reasons. A patent’s usefulness may be geared for future development. Patent enforcement also can serve to reimburse company stockholders when a business fails.

With the financial success of a business at stake, it pays to prioritize intellectual property fights. Attorneys and courts help companies sort out frivolous infringement claims from serious ones.

Source: pacbiztimes.com, “Tech exec puts up $1M to fight patent trolls” Stephen Nellis, Sep. 27, 2013