A loss in a battle against what Attorney General Jon Bruning called “patent trolls” will cost Nebraska $725,000.
Federal District Judge Joseph Battaillon levied the fine against Bruning after ruling against the Attorney General in a patent infringement case.
The attack against so-called patent trolls had been a high-profile pursuit of Attorney General. Bruning had even testified before a Senate committee in Washington about the dangers posed by patent trolls. Bruning testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance (Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation) in Washington, D.C. on the issue. Bruning called for a partnership between state and federal authorities to stem the tide of patent trolling nationwide.
As Bruning testified in Washington, his office was engaged in an on-going dispute with Texas law firm Farney Daniels, who Bruning had accused of representing patent trolls filing suspect claims against Nebraska businesses.
Bryan Farney of Farney Daniels released a statement to Nebraska Radio Network via email after Bruning’s office filed a cease and desist order against the firm, which stated in part, “While the Nebraska Attorney General may have concerns about the U.S. patent system and how it works, or with particular types of patent owners, we are confident that any fair investigation will conclude our firm has lawfully and honorably represented our clients in upholding their rights.”
Bruning proclaimed he wanted to run Farney Daniels out of Nebraska. The firm countered any fair investigation will conclude it has acted lawfully and honorably in upholding the rights of its clients.
The case began more than a year ago. The Attorney General’s office intervened when Activision TV, a Florida company that has changed its name to ActiveLight, sued Pinnacle Bank for the alleged infringement of a patent on remote-control electronic display system.
Activision TV amended a complaint it had filed against Pinnacle, adding the staff in the Attorney General’s office as defendants. The complaint contended Bruning had not substantiated his accusations against Activision and Farney Daniels, and that the use of “patent trolls” in reference to them disparaged them.
Pinnacle Bank and Activision TV settled their dispute privately.