Patent troll tries to claim ownership of a screen rotation patent, gets slapped around by a small company

Patent troll tries to claim ownership of a screen rotation patent, gets slapped around by a small company
Ah, patent trolls – the representation of everything that is wrong with today's patent system. From a device that is supposed to safeguard intellectual property from theft, the system has now turned into a pool of endless bickering over who came up with what first. Large manufacturers use it as a tool to slow down an opponent's distribution, while some smaller fish use it to extort an extra buck from other small businesses.

The latter are called Patent Assertion Entities (PAE), or – as everybody calls them – patent trolls. These are organizations created with the sole purpose of patenting any sort of relevant technology that they can come up with, then sit on said patents until somebody creates something, which remotely resembles whatever the troll has on paper. Once that happens – the PAE starts threatening legal action, but immediately proposes a settlement as well, leaning on the belief that small companies would rather pay a settlement fee, than drag a case through court and risk paying much more in legal fees (it could cost them between $1 million and $5 million just to keep the case going).

Well, Rotatable Technologies is one such troll, but it made the wrong call when it threatened cloud service provider Rackspace.

Rotatable claimed to own the patent that covers Rotatable Screen – basically – the tech that enables a switch from portrait to landscape mode that every smartphone or tablet has, and most apps support. The troll aimed its threats towards companies like Apple, Target, Whole Foods, Netflix, EA, and Rackspace. Yes, most of these companies have nothing to do with smartphones, but they do have mobile apps, and these apps do support screen rotation, so – voila – patent case!

Well, unfortunately for Rotatable, Rackspace is a company, which has made it a personal mission of sorts to fight trolls to the bitter end, even if it ends up costing it more than a settlement. It was last year, when Rotatable Technologies first sued Rackspace, and when the latter contacted the plaintiff to ask for a routine extension of time to answer their complaint, it was immediately greeted with a proposition for a $75,000 settlement (negotiable, nonetheless).

In retort, Rackspace went as far as to file a challenge (a.k.a. Inter Partes Review) to Rotatable's patent, explaining why it is invalid and should not have been issued at all. Rotatable generously decided to drop the $75,000 claim and just have both parties walk away, but alas – it was too late – Rackspace had its mind set.

Well, yesterday the USPTO declared the Rotatable Screen patent to be invalid and none of the companies on Rotatable Technologies' list owes it anything. The troll is stuck with paying whatever the cost for the whole ordeal is and Rackspace moves on to the next case – apparently, it's got a lot of those going.

source: Rackspace via SlashGear

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16 Comments

1. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

YESS!!! Finally a huge win for the little guys. Its kinda sad a smaller company took the time and money to do this. Apple or any of the others on the list could have easily done the same.

2. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Justice League.

3. DogeShibe

Posts: 1121; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

Lol .

5. Scott93274

Posts: 6031; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Perfect comment. Thank you.

6. LeBrownJames

Posts: 201; Member since: Mar 17, 2014

Nice!

4. killer7D

Posts: 550; Member since: Sep 18, 2014

Lol ..

7. ibap

Posts: 867; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

Apple would never do what Rackspace did. Since they do what Rotatable did., but demand far more.

8. McLTE

Posts: 922; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Hey ibap - how about NOT pulling Apple into this discussion and starting a flameware. Go away Troll.

16. middlehead

Posts: 452; Member since: May 12, 2014

He didn't pull Apple into it, Apple's mentioned in the article.

9. walkman800

Posts: 113; Member since: Aug 26, 2014

When I've read "Patent troll", Apple was the first thing that sprang to my mind :D

13. Ashoaib

Posts: 3276; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

same here... patent troll apple

14. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

And these iFans still praise and love them.

10. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

That's to be expected from a device whose premise, that ideas need to be protected, is false. It's an attempt at rising the cost of new ideas by artificially trying to make them scarce. As the brokenness of the patents system has clearly demonstrated, ideas are plentiful. To every idea, there's right another around the corner. The patent system merely increases the cost of ideas, not their creation, but their defense. For any yahoo can claim that something is his idea and extort money for it, thanks to the patent system. The world would be better off without it, as it's managed to exist without it for centuries just fine.

11. tedkord

Posts: 17302; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

"Large manufacturers use it as a tool to slow down an opponent's distribution..." Now who on earth could that be?

12. Ashoaib

Posts: 3276; Member since: Nov 15, 2013

apple ofcourse

15. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

Lmao Well said Apple needs to be buttkicked by everyone , all over the world.

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