Infamous scanner “patent troll” seeks sanctions—against the government

19 02 2014
MPHJ Technology, the “patent troll” owned by Texas attorney Mac Rust, became infamous by sending out thousands of letters demanding $1,000 per worker from small businesses around the nation, just for using basic scan-to-email functions. MPHJ claims to own patents, which originated with a now-defunct IT business, that cover those basic functions.

Its licensing activities earned MPHJ the scorn of Congress. It also became the first patent troll in the country to be sued by the government; the Vermont Attorney General argued that MPHJ violated state consumer protection laws (legal action was taken in Nebraska as well). In Minnesota, a stay-away order was issued; in New York, a deal was struck over how to phrase the demand letters. More recently, state legislators in Kentucky and Maine have introduced legislation aimed at banning deceptive patent demand letters.

Far from giving up after meeting this resistance, MPHJ is pushing back hard. First, the company won a round in Nebraska, where a federal judge said that the MPHJ’s patent demand letters were constitutionally protected free speech. Then, rather than cooperate with investigators from the Federal Trade Commission, the company actually went ahead and sued the agency, naming individual commissioners in the suit.



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