Monday, December 8, 2014

District Court Judge Orders Nebraska to Pay Patent Owners' Attorney Fees

In Activision TV Inc. v. John Bruning, the US District Court for the district of Nebraska ordered the state of Nebraska to pay $725,000 in attorney fees, because the state attorney general (AG) violated the First Amendment in sending cease and desist letters to the law firm representing two non-practicing entities: (1) stating their patent enforcement letters could be in violation of the Nebraska Consumer Protection Act; and (2) barring the law firm from initiating any new patent infringement enforcement efforts. The court held that the attorney general failed to prove the patent owners' actions were "objectively and subjectively baseless and done in bad faith."

Initially this AG's action may seem strange. But at the time the AG took action, the media blitz regarding patent trolls was in full force. Now the ruling states in so many words the AG's "strong arming" patent litigant was not saving the public from harm, but damaging the patent owner's federal rights to enforce their patents. Perhaps the judge perceived this was also little more than political grandstanding based on little or no fact investigation. Now the public whom this AG allegedly sought to protect gets to pay the patent owner's attorney fees.

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