Robert J. Ambrogi at Legal Blog Watch reports on the strange unfolding of a spat between lawyer Raymond Niro, co-founder of Chicago plaintiffs’ IP firm Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro, and the anonymous author of the blog Patent Troll Tracker. In an article in IP Law & Business, Niro offered $5,000 “to anyone that can provide information that leads me to the identity of Troll Tracker.”

Niro says he wants to find out the name of the Troll Tracker in order to sue for patent infringement. Niro noted that “I view these people [anonymous bloggers] as know-nothings, afraid to reveal their identity.” Troll Tracker thinks this is just a publicity stunt, to get him attention.

The Mises Institute has a review of the events but it seems that the Troll Tracker described Niro in an unflattering way and now Niro wants to get Troll Tracker for patent infringement. So, just how can blogging be considered patent infringement? Apparently, the patent in question, owned by Acacia Global Patent Holdings, can cover the display of .jpg images on web sites.

IP Law & Business explains:

“[I]t is the same patent Niro used to try and silence another vocal critic nearly a decade before. In 2000 Niro filed suit to enforce the patent against the Green Bay Packers, a now-defunct porn site, and others. Greg Aharonian, the unabashedly outspoken author of the Internet Patent News Service, derided Niro’s patent as ‘crap,’ and Niro added him to the suit. A third party filed for a reexamination of the ‘341 patent, and this September, seven years later, it emerged with one claim left intact.”

The patent in question is U.S. Pat. No. 5,253,341, entitled “Remote query communication system.”

See more here and here. See the Troll Tracker response here.

Who knew that the law could be so interesting?

Update:  See Niro’s Response here.

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  1. If Ray Niro wants to sue the person known as “Troll Tracker”, then there’s a legal procedure for that. The procedure aims at protecting the target’s first amendment right to operate his electronic press anonymously.

    See, for instance, Greenbaum v Google and Mobilisa v John Doe 1:

    Ray Niro has instead placed a $5,000 bounty on the person known as “Troll Tracker”.

    Ray Niro has chosen a reckless course.

    The computer security community has become alarmed at the emergence of underground markets for computer vulnerabilities.

    See Franklin, J., Paxson, V. Perrig, A., and Savage, S., “An Inquiry
    into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Internet Miscreants”, CCS
    ’07, October 29 – November 2, 2007, Alexandria, Virginia, USA.

    “First and foremost among these changes is the widespread observation
    that Internet-based criminal activity has been transformed from a
    reputation economy (i.e., receiving “street cred” for defacing Web
    sites or authoring viruses) to a cash economy (e.g., via SPAM,
    phishing, DDoS extortion, etc).”

    Also see Sutton, M. and Nagle, F. Emerging Economic Models for
    Vulnerability Research, WEIS, May 2006

    The forseeable consequence of Ray Niro’s $5,000 bounty is attempted computer intrusion.

    The “Troll Tracker” blog is hosted by Google. Not only is the target’s computer placed at risk, but Ray Niro has chosen to risk Google’s computers. And Ray Niro has chosen to risk the computers of those who use Google’s services.

    This is outrageous.

  2. […] See the earlier story here. Posted December 12th, 2007 by Stephen Albainy-Jenei in Patent Reform, Current Affairs | | […]

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