FindTheBest, a Santa Barbara-based system of comparison websites turned headline-making fighter of a patent troll, found itself further entrenched this week in its legal battle with said troll, Lumen View Technology, LLC, a shell company that owns a license to go after other companies it claims infringe on its clients’ patents. After FindTheBest owner Kevin O’Connor broke from industry tradition and decided to fight Lumen View — most companies sued by patent trolls for infringement end up settling as the plaintiffs suggest, as settling is far less expensive than fighting in court — his company was hit this week with a Motion for Protective Order by Lumen View’s attorney, Damian Wasserbauer.
In the motion, Wasserbauer — who did not respond to requests for comment — claims that the case information is confidential. If the motion were to be granted by a judge — FindTheBest has until next week to reply, after which the judge can rule, said Danny Seigle, the company’s director of operations — FindTheBest would be forbidden from further communicating with the media about the ongoing case. The company would also have to make its best effort to remove preexisting media coverage of the case, especially items published by the company itself, such as blogs, press releases, and social media postings.
Lumen View filed its lawsuit in May, offering to settle with FindTheBest for $50,000. But O’Connor opted instead to pump $1 million of his own money into challenging Lumen View’s case. Seigle said that approximately $100,000 had already been spent.
Seigle said this latest move by Lumen View further proves FindTheBest’s claims that such patent trolls could qualify for prosecution under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which is commonly used against organized crime bosses. Last month, FindTheBest filed a lawsuit against Lumen View under RICO, alleging that the company’s trolling is akin to extortion. And this new motion to keep the case under wraps, Seigle said, only further proves Lumen View’s questionable tactics. “These players look a lot like a mafia organization, like a cartel — a series of shell companies with no good business besides extorting money,” Seigle said. “They have nothing to lose,” he added. “They have no business to lose. Their business is to extort.”
FindTheBest’s RICO case against Lumen View isn’t entirely unprecedented — companies like Motorola and Netgear have sued under the act in the past — but if it were to work, that would be a first. The case is still in the beginning stages. As far as Lumen View’s recent motion goes, Seigle said that he thinks it will get dismissed quickly, given that it’s in the public interest to know about such cases.