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« Mind the Spoof | Main | And the Winner Is... »

December 5, 2007

As the Troll Turns

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

Or should that be "weasel"? Anyway, John Bringardner has a fascinating piece up this week on on Ray Niro. If that name is at all familiar to you it may be because the term "patent troll" was initially coined to describe the activities of Niro and his firm. So where is our hero today? Bringardner uses the polite phrase "controversial situations" - I call it a soap opera.

In episode 1, Niro won a big judgement for Philip Jackson against Glenayre Electronics Inc. on a patent infringement case. However, the judgement was reduced by more than 75% on appeal, leading Jackson to sue Niro for malpractice.

In episode 2, Niro counter-sued Jackson, in part on the grounds that the patent, which he had successfully enforced, was invalid. The two parties settled.

In episode 3, a blogger calling himself "Troll Tracker" started publicly and repeatedly using the word 'troll' to refer to Niro, who didn't much like it. In response, Niro threatened the blogger with a charge of violating a patent, number 5,253,341.

The 341 patent has a long and bloody history. Niro tried to use this patent once before to, as Bringardner puts it, "silence a vocal critic." Niro's lawsuit led to the patent being re-examined and most of its claims invalidated. But there is still one surviving claim, though it's not clear to me how that claim (about image compression) relates to public criticism of this particular patent troll.

In this week's episode, Niro is offering USD 5000 to anyone who can lead him to the identity of the so-far-anonymous "Troll Tracker" blogger.

Finally, Bringardner notes that Troll Tracker has been remarkably effective at publicizing some of the inner machinations of Niro's patent suits, particularly his relationship with one Scott Harris, a now-former partner at the law firm of Fish & Richardson. He's "former partner" in part because Troll Tracker revealed that he was behind a Niro lawsuit against Google, which happens to be an F&R client.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Interesting People


1. Ned Ulbricht on December 8, 2007 12:02 AM writes...

This isn't amusing.

The person known by the pseudonym "Troll Tracker" has a right to publish on matters of public concern, being responsible for the abuse of that right. Further, it is well established that a person has a right to engage in free expression anonymously. This right is protected by the Constitution of the United States.

Ray Niro is offering $5,000 for aid in depriving the person known as "Troll Tracker" of his right to publish anonymously.

Ray Niro is attempting to conspire with another to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate the person known as "Troll Tracker".

See 18 U.S.C. 241
and DoJ Civil Rights Resource Manual

Permalink to Comment

2. Zarggle on January 27, 2008 1:43 PM writes...

Repost: first attempt failed to appear within 48 hours.

Ray Niro is also unfortunately apparently succeeding:

In the meantime, this Web site is behaving incorrectly in an intermittent fashion. Blog index pages and, more frequently, individual-post-with-comments pages, are sometimes being mangled. When the URL for one is requested from your Web server, instead of the server always sending the correct version of the page, sometimes it is sending a truncated page with little more than the big Corante header. This behavior is clearly incorrect; the only changes that should occur to the content returned for a URL here from one request to the next are a) new posts at the top of the blog index pages and older ones rolling off the bottom onto the next, and b) new comments appearing on individual-post-with-comments pages. Content should certainly not be *dis*appearing. Not even disappearing and eventually *re*appearing.

Permalink to Comment

3. drwex on January 28, 2008 9:50 AM writes...

I'm sorry that he's succeeding. Sad indeed.

The issue with the site are largely due to it being bombarded by comment spambots. The effect is to put the server under heavy load, causing many of the failures and delays you're seeing.

The corrupted pages are a side effect of the same problem - when I hand-delete comments that slip past the automated blocker I have to rebuild pages and indexes. If the server gets overloaded (and crashes) during a rebuild the result is various page corruptions.

We're far from the only blog having these problems and the tech folks are looking into more robust fixes but for now we're just kind of getting beaten up and coping as best we can.

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