11 Comments

Summary:

Don’t mess with lawyers, and especially don’t poke fun at them for bad behavior or allege that they may have committed improprieties with a court. You’d think Richard Frenkel, a fellow lawyer, would understand this rule, but the Cisco IP director still attacked a few patent […]

Don’t mess with lawyers, and especially don’t poke fun at them for bad behavior or allege that they may have committed improprieties with a court. You’d think Richard Frenkel, a fellow lawyer, would understand this rule, but the Cisco IP director still attacked a few patent lawyers in a blog called Patent Troll Tracker. He and Cisco are now part of a lawsuit alleging defamation.

Cisco and Frenkel were sued by two Texas lawyers who disliked information about them posted on the site. And, because lawyers are not known for their meek behavior, they also sued Cisco because Frenkel’s boss was aware he was writing the site. Cisco is standing behind Frenkel for now while still trying to make the clear distinction that an employee blog is just that–an employee’s blog. Update: Cisco today has amended its blogging policy to require employees disclose their Cisco affiliation if the blog topic is relevant to the work they do for the company.

The fun of watching lawyers duke it out in the courts aside, the alleged (note the “alleged,” I’m not aiming to get a subpoena) improper behavior in the Eastern District of Texas and a recent jurisdiction decision from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit makes me wonder if Marshall, Texas, might soon lose its luster as a great venue for patent suits.

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  1. Jeanette Gibson Monday, March 24, 2008

    Hi there. We posted a response on this issue as well as our updated policy on our blog this morning. Please check it out and we welcome your comments.
    http://blogs.cisco.com/news/2008/03/lessons_learnedcisco_updates_p_1.html

    Thanks,
    Jeanette

  2. Cisco Sued Because of Employee Blogging | Right Lawyers Monday, March 24, 2008

    [...] TPR wrote an engrossing place today onHere’s a hurried excerptDon’t status with lawyers, and especially don’t pokeweed state at them for pure state or insist that they bush impact bound improprieties with a court. You’d conceptualise Richard Frenkel, a Negro lawyer, would wager this rule, but the Cisco … [...]

  3. Stacy be careful with your words on next call from court will be for you guys ie you, Om and entire Giga Om. I just hope that they spare the readers :-P

  4. Ronald J Riley Monday, March 24, 2008

    Stealing others’ property is bad behavior! Conducting anonymous smear campaigns against inventors and their partners is bad behavior!

    Has it occurred to anyone that Cisco is getting sued because they have a big appetite for other’s patent property and a big ego that gets in the way of acquiring the rights to the patent properties they need to succeed in the market?

    Could the reason that Cisco has seen its litigation increase by an order of magnitude be that they are taking liberties with an increasing number of other’s patent properties?

    Have you considered that Cisco gets sued after they have refused a legitimate offer for a license?

    Is it possible that Cisco’s entitlement mentality has led them down the wrong path, a path where greed and ego trumps ethics?

    Or have you considered that Cisco’s membership in the Coalition for Patent fairness and PIRACY, aka. the Piracy Coalition is a good indication that birds of a feather do flock together?

    Some companies start as inventors, and some start as parasites on those who have invented. I believe that Cisco is a parasite.

    Eventually they end up alike, one group never being inventive and the second losing the ability to invent as they age. Both will try to substitute quantity in patent filing for the quality of inventions they are incapable of producing. It does not work.

    All Piracy Coalition members fit one of these profiles. Tech companies who are past their prime, insurance and banking collectively have no shame!

    What they very good at producing is innovative media hype which obfuscates the reality of their existence. Their multi-million dollar “troll” campaign is a perfect example of this. They paint their victims as “trolls” while the courts are finding their conduct so egregious that they are handing down staggering judgments which are generally being upheld by higher courts. This is what happens to those who are caught lying, cheating, and stealing and no amount of public relations painting their victims as evil “trolls” can change the facts of these cases.

    Personally I think that it is a shame that Piracy Coalition members have failed to learn the lesson that inventors and the courts are teaching. It is all about conducting one’s business in an ethical manner!

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow – http://www.patentPolicy.org
    President – Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 9 pm EST.

  5. Doug van Aman Monday, March 24, 2008

    IP protection is important. But this appears to be just another harassment lawsuit where a greedy little grunt tries to force a settlement over litigation.

    The same kind of wrong-minded thinking applies in Gibson’s lawsuit over Activision (and now expanded to include Walmart, Target, Amazon, GameStop, K-Mart, and Toys R Us) that would cause any reasonably intelligent person cock their head and say, “Huh?”

    What’s really sad, though, is the distraction from real IP cases. Sure, big companies need to be prevented from rolling over small inventors of real innovation. That’s not what we are talking about here. Instead, what we have is a giant sucking sound, which is dollars being wasted stupid stuff and diverted from real innovation.

    Legislative and regulatory changes are long past due.

  6. Mr. Riley-

    It seems unfair that you are using this situation to somehow lump together a number of different industries together as being “parasites” who are engaged in “smear campaigns.” Patent trolls are not simply a figment of some corporate executive’s imagination, but a disappointing reality. There really are companies that exist solely to make a profit by buying up bogus patents for the express purpose of bringing frivolous lawsuits. They are the ones who are truly hurting innovation – not the industries you seem so quick to label as being “evil.”

  7. Note that this defamation charge will be easily disproven. Trolltracker’s information was factual, not imaginary. That is where defamation rules are drawn.

    I will bet any amount of money that Cisco will win this case unless they decided to settle out of court to just get the suing individuals out of their face (which would be a bad call as it would encourage more lawsuits of the same).

  8. Bad blogger ::shakes finger:: « It’s a Goullet kind of world Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    [...] blog without revealing that a Cisco employee authored the blog.” So what’s next? Cisco gets sued. Shocker. Cisco does its best to respond by revising their employee blogging policies. My favorite [...]

  9. Web Worker Daily » Archive Open Thread: Does Your Company Have a Blogging Policy? « Saturday, March 29, 2008

    [...] from public view), the author just recently identified himself as a Cisco employee. As a result, two lawyers in Texas filed a suit alleging author Rick Frenkel of smearing their good name and causing harm to a patent case against [...]

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