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Lawyer Offers Bounty to Unmask Blawger

There is sport in unmasking anonymous blawgers and some such blawgers choose to unmask themselves. But that sport grew ugly this month, or at least weird, when lawyer Raymond P. Niro, cofounder of Chicago plaintiffs' IP firm Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro, offered a $5,000 bounty to unmask the anonymous author of the blog Patent Troll Tracker. Niro made his offer via an article by writer John Bringardner in IP Law & Business. "I'll offer $5,000 to anyone that can provide information that leads me to the identity of Troll Tracker," Niro said. "I view these people [anonymous bloggers] as know-nothings, afraid to reveal their identity."

Niro's stated reason for wanting to unmask the lawyer known as Troll Tracker is to sue him for patent infringement. It probably helps that Troll Tracker has been critical of Niro and called him a troll. Bringardner explains:

"[I]t is the same patent Niro used to try and silence another vocal critic nearly a decade before. In 2000 Niro filed suit to enforce the patent against the Green Bay Packers, a now-defunct porn site, and others. Greg Aharonian, the unabashedly outspoken author of the Internet Patent News Service, derided Niro's patent as 'crap,' and Niro added him to the suit. A third party filed for a reexamination of the '341 patent, and this September, seven years later, it emerged with one claim left intact, covering asymmetric decompression involved in the display of .jpg images on Web sites. But that one claim is enough for Niro to use the patent to threaten Troll Tracker."

As for the bounty hunter's prey, Troll Tracker says that the sum of his posts about Niro hardly warrant this degree of nastiness. "This is just a publicity stunt, to get him attention. ... I don't know whether to be flattered by the attention or insulted by the amount." Meanwhile, at Weblog, Stephan Kinsella sees the story as "a sad commentary on our perverted legal and property rights system" and "yet another example of how IP violates other rights, like the right to free speech."

Other commentary: As the Troll Turns, Patent Attorney Offers $5K For Identify of Anonymous Patent Troll Tracker, Ray Niro Offers $5,000 for Identity of Author of 'Troll Tracker' Blog, Troll Tracker: Tracker of 'Patent Trolls', Blogger ... Patent Infringer? and Advice and a bounty ... .

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 7, 2007 at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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