Twitter: Patent Trolls Should Bear the Financial Burden of Filing Bad Lawsuits

In a guest post on GIGA OM, Ben Lee, the legal counsel for Twitter argues that it's high time that those who want to go to war over patents – particularly those who use lawsuits as a business model as opposed to actually building anything – should have to bear the cost of litigation.

Twitter is an engineering company, and engineers like to innovate. Twitter is also well known, and, as a result, we receive patent threats and lawsuits from time to time," Lee begins his editorial. "Many of these are baseless, and our policy is to fight them with all our might. In fact, we have never agreed to pay to settle a patent suit."

"Still, even meritless lawsuits cost us money in attorney fees, and force our engineers to spend time with lawyers rather than improving our product," he continues. For example, we recently won a case regarding U.S. Patent No. 6,408,309, entitled 'Method and System for Creating an Interactive Virtual Community of Famous People.' After a trial before a jury, we managed to prove that we didn’t infringe and that the asserted claims from the patent were invalid. This patent was 'invented' by a patent lawyer, Dinesh Agarwal. According to his own testimony at trial, Mr. Agarwal had no computer science or programming background, and he thought up the whole idea while he was shopping for groceries."

Lee goes on to point out that many patents issued by the patent office have "a near-zero cost-of-invention" and that the whole system needs a serious revamp. He also points out that the average patent lawsuit costs anywhere from $900,000 to $6,000,000 to defend, according to data from the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)’s 2011 survey.

He closes by mentioning that a bill was introduced in Congress several weeks ago called the SHIELD Act. The bill would put the financial responsibility of filing such a lawsuit on the patent trolls themselves.

You can read the entire editorial here.

Source: GIGA OM

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