Patent trolls live under the bridge

Dell, HP, Fujitsu and IBM have been hit by a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas Marshall Division – famously known for its ability to expedite patent (chapter 830) disputes. The article linked to points out that it is unfair to describe anyone bringing patent suits to court as “patent trolls” – they have to have a sound case and deserve their time in court. So who exactly are the trolls?

In this latest case,  a company called Lochner Technologies LLC alleges the four computer vendors have breached a patent it owns, US 7,035,598 called Modular Computer System. The patent was issued to Scott M. Lochner and Meir Bartur in 2006.

The suit claims that Dell breaches its patent on systems using its Remote Desktop system, including XenServer and XenDesktop thin clients. HP, it’s alleged, breaches the patent with its HP  Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and on products like its Compaq 6720t mobile thin clients. Fujitsu’s Virtual Desktop and Futuro S550 thin clients also breach the patent, it’s alleged. While Big Blue, with its Virtual Client System is also alleged to breach this patent with the HC10 Workstation Blade, the TC10 thin blade made by Devon IT and the X90Le and X90L mobile thin clients.

Lochner wants damages from all of these four companies and it will be up to a judge to decide whether the patent has, indeed, been breached.

Patent cases appear in the US courts all the time, but the real question here is who is doing the trolling. Large vendors like Microsoft, Intel and others have phalanxes of lawyers that can be more or less instantly deployed to contest patent infringement cases and even to head off such cases at the gulch, by filing declaratory suits against firms or individuals who just might have a case against them.

If you’re a little guy, however, it’s not so simple to file a patent and it’s a very expensive and somewhat protracted business.

And guess which body of professionals benefits from the to-ing and fro-ing and the argy-bargy which will result if a subsequent patent suit is brought against multinationals?

Yup, it’s the lawyers that form the big co-fraternity of trolls beneath the bridge. They’re the ones that always stand to benefit from, well, just about everything from marriage, to divorce, to patent suits and to trademark infringements.