Patent Litigation Weekly — Photo-Sharing Patent Suit Threatens Immigrant’s Dream

16 06 2009

For a guy who feels his business is being cramped by bogus lawsuits, Igor Shoifot comes across as an irrepressible optimist. The 42-year-old Russian immigrant, who runs the photo-sharing site out of a nondescript office building near San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, laughs loudly and often at his predicament.

Still, Shoifot knows he’s in a serious bind. His business is at risk of paying heavy penalties—and possibly being shut down—because it relies on “metadata” technology that enables functions like tagging and commenting. FotoMedia Technologies, a patent-holding company with offices in New Hampshire and North Carolina, claims patents it owns give it exclusive control over certain uses of such features, and has asked a federal judge to shut down and 62 other photo-sharing services unless they pay unspecified licensing fees. TPA first covered these suits two weeks ago in the first installment of The Photo-Sharing Files.

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