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Patent Troll Tracker

As the East Texas jury was set to begin deliberations. Per Joe Mullin’s must-read coverage at IP Law and Business, Rick Frenkel’s lawyer-critical blog is now entirely closed down even to private readers except as an archive for the use of lawyers in the related litigation. More: Mullin, Sept. 18 (Frenkel “wouldn’t have the financial resources to defend himself” had his employer Cisco not covered his legal costs), Sept. 21 (“You don’t wrestle with a snake, you cut its head off,” said plaintiff T. John (“Johnny”) Ward, Jr. “We shut the blog down, is what we did.”)

September 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 21, 2009

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Watch what you say about lawyers dept.: a jury will consider the claim of East Texas intellectual property litigator Eric Albritton that he was defamed by Richard Frenkel at his lawyer-critical Patent Troll Tracker blog. The suit also names Frenkel’s employer, Cisco. The blog has “gone private” and is now for invited readers only. [Brenda Sapino Jeffreys, Texas Lawyer] More: AmLaw Daily. Sept. 18: Joe Mullin, IP Law and Business (reporting blog now entirely defunct except as archive for use in defending case).

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If, like Eric Albritton, you’re a successful Texas lawyer who wants to claim that critical postings on the Patent Troll Tracker blog caused you “embarrassment, humiliation, mental pain and anguish,” you might actually have to document that. (Molly McDonough, ABA Journal, Nov. 3; earlier).

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Don’t

by Walter Olson on September 22, 2008

More things it would be better to avoid doing if you’re a lawyer:

  • Claim to be assetless and thus unable to make restitution for the largest theft of state money in Massachusetts history even though you live in a $1.5 million Florida house with a $70K BMW and other goodies [Boston Herald, Globe, disbarred attorney Richard Arrighi]
  • Botch appeals and then refrain from telling clients their cases have been lost [Clifford Van Syoc, reprimanded by New Jersey high court; NJLJ; seven years ago]
  • Attempt to deduct “more than $300,000 in prostitutes, p0rn, sex toys and erotic massages” on your income tax returns, even if you are “thought of as a good tax lawyer” [NY Post] Nor ought you to accept nude dances from a client as partial payment for legal fees [Chicago Tribune; for an unrelated tale of a purportedly consensual lap dance given by secretary to partner, see NYLJ back in April]
  • Introduce a patent application purportedly signed in part by someone who in fact had been dead for a year or two [Law.com/The Recorder, Chicago's Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro, of blog-stalking fame, client's patent declared unenforceable] Or pursue a patent-infringement case based on what a federal judge later ruled to be a “tissue of lies” [NYLJ; New York law firm Abelman, Frayne & Schwab and lawyer David Jaroslawicz, ordered to pay opponents' legal fees; earlier mentions of Jaroslawicz at this site here, here, here, and here]
  • Demand ransom for a stolen Leonardo da Vinci painting [biggest U.K. art theft ever, all defendants have pleaded not guilty, LegalWeek via ABA Journal]

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Attorney Eric Albritton has been suing Rick Frenkel and his former employer, Cisco, over allegedly defamatory content on Frenkel’s much-missed Patent Troll Tracker blog. Now Albritton has also aimed broad legal demands at a second IP-law blogger, Dennis Crouch of the well-known Patently-O, demanding not only the unveiling of anonymous commenters at that blog but even the handing over of private notes that readers have written to Crouch. (Patently-O, Aug. 24 via Elefant).

July 25 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 25, 2008

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March 21 roundup

by Ted Frank on March 21, 2008

Updates galore:

The Troll Tracker blog is down shortly after (or before?) a lawsuit filed by a plaintiffs’ attorney and son of federal judge T. John Ward, Jr. sued the blogger and his employer, Cisco, over a post critical of Ward and attorney Eric Albritton. [Prior Art blog via ATL] I couldn’t find the complaint on-line, but I’ll track it down over the weekend. Earlier: Feb. 26; earlier in the series.

Just as I was about to say I needed to revise my top-ten blog list to include the excellent anony-blogger Patent Troll-Tracker, I learned from today’s Recorder and WSJ that he has revealed himself as Rick Frenkel, Cisco IP attorney.

When I started the blog, I did so mainly out of frustration. I was shocked to learn that a huge portion of the tech industry’s patent disputes were with companies that were shells, with little cash and assets other than patents and a desire to litigate, and did not make and had never made any products. Yet when I would search the Internet for information about these putative licensors, I could find nothing. I was frustrated by the lack of information, and also by the vast array of anti-patent-reform bloggers out there, without a voice supporting what I did believe and still believe is meaningful reform.

(For the record, I liked the blog even before they praised me.) Plaintiffs’ attorney Ray Niro had put a bounty on the identity of the Troll Tracker, who had been critical of Niro’s tactics (as have Walter and I). Frenkel is considering shutting down his blog now that he is out of the closet; one hopes someone else picks up the torch, because he was performing a valuable service, to the extent that I had limited my blogging about it because he had the subject-area covered so well.

I missed the debate in November among Dennis Crouch, Michael Smith, and Frenkel on whether the Eastern District of Texas is “waning” as a magnet jurisdiction for patent plaintiffs (May 2006, Dec. 2005, Jan. 2005), or I might have made reference to it in my latest Liability Outlook on patent reform. Frenkel seems to have the best of that debate, and follows up:

Let’s highlight one really outstanding statistic from November: The number of defendants sued in the Eastern District of Texas in November 2007: 244. The number of defendants sued in Los Angeles, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, New York City, Chicago, Delaware, and New Jersey combined in November 2007: 162.

Patent lawyers often seem to be of a different stripe than other lawyers, and there is a similar patent-law-blogging community largely separate from the other law-bloggers. The commenters go mad at Crouch’s blog over the Frenkel revelation because Cisco is a strong patent reform supporter. Elsewhere: IPBiz; TechDailyDose; NetworkWorld; 271Blog; Mises Blog; and the anti-reform Patent Prospector.

It seems Chicago attorney Raymond Niro has doubled the bounty to $10,000 for anyone who will bring him the identity of the blogger who’s often been critical of his courtroom activities. (Ameet Sachdev, “Patent licencers raising some ire”, Chicago Tribune, Jan. 22). Earlier: Dec. 10.

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Thank you, Patent Troll Tracker (Jan. 4).

Watch what you say about lawyers, a continuing feature: the blog Troll Tracker has been critical of firms that make a practice of buying up patent rights to sue on them. Now co-founder Ray Niro of the Chicago plaintiffs firm Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro is threatening to sue Troll Tracker for alleged infringement of a patent on a technique sometimes used in web graphics, JPEG decompression. (If a website posts graphics at all, there is a good chance that it is in similar violation of this asserted patent.) Niro also wants the anonymous blawger’s identity unmasked and is offering a bounty toward that end. (TrollTracker, Dec. 4; John Bringardner, “A Bounty of $5,000 to Name Troll Tracker”, IP Law & Business, Dec. 4; via Ambrogi, who appends an extensive list of blogs commenting on the story).

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