Archive for Patent Troll

Scumbag Patent Troll Tries To Shake Down Wikimedia Via A Bogus Predictive Text Patent And Gets An Unexpected Response

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 30, 2020 by itnerd

Patent trolls are the lowest form of life on Earth and in my opinion should be eradicated from the planet. Here is example of why I feel that way. TechDirt is reporting on a patent troll named WordLogic who claims to own the rights to a patent related to predictive text writing, and their attempt to go after the Wikimedia Foundation. That’s the group responsible for Wikipedia. Here’s what happened next:

Its latest target… was not wise. WordLogic sent a shakedown threat letter over the same patent to Wikimedia Foundation. The letter itself is fascinating as a perfect example of how patent troll shakedown normally works. It starts out with grand claims about WordLogic’s patents, and insists that Wikipedia infringes on one specific claim (#19 in the ‘124 patent), but then says “likely other claims in the WordLogic patents.” That sort of vagueness is pretty typical of trollish thuggery. The threat letter blusters about how the company is a “global leader” in the field — which is laughable given that the company appears to have made literally zero revenue for the last two years that it disclosed its income statements publicly.


In the end, the letter demands… $30,000. This kind of fee is typical of patent trolls, because they know damn well that litigating this (even to an easy victory) will cost Wikipedia significantly more than $30,000. Thus, the economical choice is to just pay up and move on. 

Wikimedia Foundation shot back, and rightly so:

Wikipedia, correctly, is not one to give in to such trollish bullying. It turned around and went to court asking for declaratory judgment that it does not infringe on the patents that WordLogic was waving around. Wikimedia notes that (1) WordLogic’s patents are invalid due to prior art, (2) that they are invalid for not covering patentable subject matter, and (3) that anyway, it doesn’t even infringe on the patents if they were valid.

So, let’s recap. The patent troll “invites” someone to take a license, pricing it as a business decision. Or put another way, the troll will license the patent for $30k, knowing it will cost the target at least 10x that to start a patent defense, and way more than that to actually roll the dice and take it to trial. That could take years. So typically the target will pay up.

Except that didn’t happen here.

Wikimedia responded by showing that not only are they not interested in spending $30K for a license, they are willing to spend 10X, 20X, or more to invalidate the patents. Which is as close to giving these scumbags the middle finger without walking into their offices to do that. This puts the Wikimedia Foundation in the driver’s seat, and Wordlogic in the position of being the target. An interesting role reversal.

This is going to be an interesting one to watch.