Ray Niro passed away Monday at the age of 73 in Italy. Most readers will know Ray Niro as the original patent plaintiff’s lawyer. Ray was bigger than life, as was his reputation — both good and bad depending upon where you view the NPE issue from. You can get the details on Ray’s significant

I thought I was done discussing anonymous blogging — click here for my posts about Troll Tracker and anonymous blogging. But the Legal Talk Network’s Lawyer 2 Lawyer podcast has just published an edition about Troll Tracker and anonymous blogging featuring Ray Niro Sr. of Niro Scavone (who offered $15,000 for anyone who revealed Troll Tracker’s identity) and Dennis Crouch of Patently-O. It is a very interesting set of interviews. I only wish that Niro and Crouch had been on together, instead of in separate interviews. Here are some highlights:
Niro stated that no one has claimed the $15,000 reward for identifying Troll Tracker.
Niro emailed Troll Tracker and offered to donate the reward to charity (at that time it was $10,000) and fly Troll Tracker to Chicago to meet with Niro and see his firm.
Niro went back and forth between saying that anonymous blogging was wrong and that it was harmful and should not be allowed because you could not judge the author’s credibility.
Crouch supported anonymous blogging, done correctly, but acknowledged that anonymous comments on his site tended to be more aggressive than those with identified authors.
Crouch offered Troll Tracker an opportunity to contribute to Patently-O.
Crouch sees much of this as a generational change. Among other things, those under thirty have no expectation of privacy or concern at revealing their identity on the internet. Those over thirty are careful with their privacy and identity, making anonymity more enticing. That suggests that anonymous blogs will become less prevalent with time. Troll Tracker is likely mid-thirties, putting him right on the cusp of Crouch’s dividing line.
Crouch’s generation-split argument may have been displayed when Niro and Crouch were asked for their contact information. Crouch told people to go to Patently-O. Niro was uncomfortable providing his contact information and, when gently prodded, explained that he could be contacted through his firm, Niro Scavone. Of course, Niro’s reluctance could also be explained by the anonymous threats made against him in the recent past.
Finally, Business Week has a good article detailing the Troll Tracker story — click here to read it.

Continue Reading Ray Niro & Dennis Crouch on Anonymous Blogging

Dennis Crouch at Patently-O is reporting that Cisco has amended its employee blogging policy to require that any Cisco employee blogging about issues involving or related to Cisco identify themselves as a Cisco employee and provide a disclaimer that the opinions are those of the employee alone and not necessarily Cisco. This is a reasonable policy. It provides Cisco’s employees the freedom to blog while protecting both Cisco and its employees. And it prevents future occurences of the mistake Troll Tracker made (anonymously commenting on cases his employer was involved in), as I discussed in my post on anonymous blogging last week, click here for the post.
Cisco also told Crouch that Troll Tracker would be free to continue blogging, presumably as long as he follows the policy. Hopefully, that means that Troll Tracker will return to the patent litigation conversation soon, although it is easy to believe that this experience may have soured him on blogging or changed his voice substantially. Here is Cisco’s explanation of Troll Tracker’s status from Cisco’s official blog, The Platform:
As an employee, Rick is free to continue his personal blog, Patent Troll Tracker, in compliance with the revised policy. Rick has many fans who appreciate the information he collects and disseminates on patent litigation trends and recognize his blog as an important voice in the on-going national dialogue on patent issues.
IP Law360 (subscription required) has a detailed article this morning outlining Troll Tracker’s history, including several quotes from Ray Niro of Niro Scavone who received substantial media attention after offering a reward for Troll Tracker’s identity. Niro reportedly likened Cisco’s policy to “repairing a sidewalk after someone was hurt” and said that some of Troll Tracker’s statements were “hurtful, harmful and, in many cases, 100% inaccurate.” According to the article, Niro plans to depose Troll Tracker in Illinois Computer Research, LLC v. Fish & Richardson, No. 07 C 5081 (N.D. Ill.) (Pallmeyer, J.) — click here to read more about the case in the Blog’s archives.
Another note on anonymous blogging and commenting, Rob LaGatta at LexBlog addressed the Troll Tracker situation and my anonymous blogging post last week with an important point, click here for Rob’s post. Anonymous blogging and commenting is a relatively small part of legal blogging and most anonymous material is not problematic. It is easy to get side-tracked by the occasional offensive anonymous content. But the vast majority of legal blogs operate without problems with either unprofessional or anonymous content.

Continue Reading Troll Tracker Allowed to Blog

Several unrelated legal stories that are worth a read:
An excellent Illinois Business Law Journal article regarding whether Google is losing its trademark to genericide. It concludes that Google’s mark is relatively safe, partly because Google’s trademark is identical to its domain name.*
Patent Troll Tracker has been unmasked. The unmasking was based, at least in part, on Ray Niro’s bounty for Troll Tracker’s name. As would be expected, Troll Tracker unmasked himself with class and a sense of humor. He is taking a few weeks off from blogging to decide whether to continue. I hope he decides to continue. Troll Tracker is a powerful voice on some complex issues, and he is right that it is great to see another inhouse legal blogger. Plus, it would be a shame for Troll Tracker to disappear just after Ron Coleman finally discovered him.
Blawg Review #148 is up at Blawg IT. In addition to the usual links to law blog posts, Brett helps us smell the electronic roses with numerous non-legal video clips.
* Hat tip to Michael Atkins at the Seattle Trademark Blog for pointing out the article during his Trademark Dilution Weekend.

Continue Reading IP News Roundup

The Tribune ran a story in its weekly legal industry column yesterday about Ray Niro, senior partner in local patent litigation firm Niro Scavone and a very accomplished trial attorney. Niro is in a dispute with anonymous blogger Troll Tracker. Troll Tracker focuses his blog on cases brought by patent licensing companies or non-practicing entities,* a number of whom are represented by Niro and the Niro Scavone firm. Because of the firm’s prominence in plaintiff-side patent work, Troll Tracker has also discussed both Niro and the firm. That drew Niro’s attention. Niro sent the anonymous Troll Tracker a letter accusing him of infringing a patent held by client Global Patent Holdings which the Tribune described as “covering the compression of data over the Internet, a technology that allows, for instance, Web sites to display JPEG images.” Niro then offered a $5,000 “bounty” for unmasking Troll Tracker’s identity, which he later increased to $10,000. Here is how Niro explained the bounty in the Tribune article:
I want to find out who this person is . . . . Is he an employee with Intel or Microsoft? Does he have a connection with serial infringers? I think that would color what he has to say.”
I have generally stayed away from this story because it is closer to patent gossip than the Northern District IP litigation that is the focus of this blog. But I felt that I should cover it since it ran in the Tribune.
* I have posted before about my dislike of the patent troll name – click here for a post which discussed the Troll Tracker blog and here for a post about Ray Niro’s article calling for an end to the use of patent troll. I think it carries unnecessary baggage and creates unnecessary animosity in legal proceedings that tend to generate plenty without injecting more. So, I was glad to see last week that Troll Tracker is pulling away from the use of the name – click here for Troll Tracker’s post about the term.

Continue Reading Tribune on Patent Bounties