Lawsuits brought by “patent trolls,” companies that have no product but file barrages of patent lawsuits, have become commonplace across the tech sector. For the few companies that choose to fight these cases until the end, it’s an expensive endeavor, since defending a patent suit can cost anywhere from $1 million to several times that amount.
Television maker Vizio is one of the companies that fights back. It’s beaten no less than 16 “non-practicing entities,” and last week, the company released a statement showcasing its list of patent troll cases that ended in a key statistic: “$0 to plaintiff.” The list includes the usual bizarrely named shells, like “E-Contact Techs” and “Man Machine Interface,” as well as well-known patent holding companies like Walker Digital and Intellectual Ventures (whose patents were used by Pragmatus Telecom, one of the shells Vizio sent packing.)
Now, the company is trying to collect fees from one of its opponents, a company called Oplus Technologies. For the first time, it stands a real chance, in a case where it spent more than $1 million to win. Two recent Supreme Court decisions make it easier for victorious defendants to collect fees in patent cases. The TV maker is up against a storied patent plaintiffs’ firm, Chicago-based Niro, Haller & Niro, that has fought for Oplus tooth and nail.
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