Tracking Lawyers' Reactions to Unmasking of Troll Tracker
Up until February, no one knew that Rick Frenkel, an in-house lawyer at Cisco by day, was also the anonymous blogger behind the controversial Patent Troll Tracker site, where he regularly outed companies (and their lawyers) that he considered to be patent trolls -- a pejorative term for one who enforces his or her patents against alleged infringers in a manner considered unduly aggressive or opportunistic. As my colleague Bob Ambrogi reported here, Frenkel voluntarily unmasked himself after Chicago plaintiffs' lawyer Raymond P. Niro offered a $15,000 reward to anyone who could reveal Frenkel's identity.
Frenkel's unmasking has triggered diametrically opposed reactions from lawyers in the patent bar.
As reported in the Daily Journal, two Texas patent lawyers, T. John Ward Jr. and Eric Albritton are suing both Frenkel and his deep-pocketed employer, Cisco for defamation. Ward and Britton claim that Frenkel's blog falsely accused them of altering the date of a patent infringement complaint so that it would not be filed before their client's patent had been approved. They also argue that Cisco is vicariously liable for the comments because Frenkel allegedly operated "with the full knowledge and [...] consent of his employer." By the way, if you're interested in the specific blog posts that launched these lawsuits, Joe Mullin shares his best guess at The Prior Art.
In contrast to Ward and Albritton, who take offense at the term "patent trolls," at least one law firm has gone on the offensive against so-called trolls. National law firm Howrey recently created a new brochure for clients that makes the firm's stance on trolls clear: Howrey won't represent them, and criticizes firms that do.
Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 11, 2008 at 03:57 PM | Permalink
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