Biggest patent troll of 2014 gives up, drops appeal
East Texas judge tossed out eDekka's 168 cases, and it must pay attorneys' fees.by Kirby Ferguson In 2014, no company filed more patent lawsuits than eDekka LLC, a Texas-based company with just one asset—US Patent No. 6,266,674. Fully 168 patent lawsuits came to a sudden halt in October, when US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap stopped the litigation campaign in its tracks. eDekka's patent, which had been used to sue a wide array of online retailers, described nothing more than "the abstract idea of storing and labeling information," Gilstrap found. Those were "routine tasks that could be performed by a human" and didn't meet the standard for getting a patent. Gilstrap ruled the patent invalid. Lawyers for eDekka appealed Gilstrap's decision, and the shell company's appeal brief was initially due in December. It asked for and received an extension until February 26. Instead of filing a brief blasting the lower-court results, though, eDekka's lawyers simply filed a short document asking to withdraw its appeal. Yesterday, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted the motion. eDekka's story isn't over quite yet, and the ending isn't going to be a happy one for this patent troll. After Gilstrap invalidated the company's patent, he ordered it to pay attorneys' fees—the first time the judge had ruled a case as "exceptional" under new guidelines in effect as a result of the Supreme Court's 2014 Octane Fitness case. Many of the remaining eDekka defendants, selling everything from shoes to stationery to coffee, filed a fee request (PDF) on December 31. In January, Gilstrap ordered (PDF) eDekka to pay a total of more than $390,000 in attorneys' fees to 24 defendant companies. The order gave most of the defendants exactly the fees they requested, generally between $13,000 and $16,000 each. (Most of the defendants have banded together in a joint defense group, represented by lawyers from Fish & Richardson.) There's no indication in the court docket that the fees matter has been settled. eDekka is represented by Austin Hansley, a lawyer whose small Texas law firm also represented the second- and third-most litigious patent trolls of 2014. Hansley did not respond to a request for comment on this story. In 2014, Hansley filed more than 100 lawsuits on eDekka's behalf—including 87 in a single week—all in East Texas. He sued a vast array of companies doing business online, with the better-known defendants including Fab, Harry & David, Dress Barn, the National Football League, Etsy, and Estee Lauder. eDekka's lawsuits said that various types of online "shopping cart" technology infringed its information-storage patent. The eDekka patent was originally filed for by Donald Hejna, a Bay Area entrepreneur and inventor whose company, Enounce, previously sued Apple for infringing a patent related to variable-speed video playback. Enounce claimed it was the first to create technology allowing users to "speed up or slow down the playback rate" of Adobe Flash videos without sound problems.
March 5, 2016 by
eDekka, The Bogey Troll of 2014, is Obliterated
This article originally appeared on Ars Technica