Summerland-based FindTheBest has secured a court victory in a patent lawsuit.
A federal court in New York ruled on Nov. 22 that a patent held by Delaware-based Lumen View Technology was invalid. Lumen View, which does not produce products or services based on the patent, had sued FindTheBest alleging infringement.
Many companies settle when faced with such a suit, but FindTheBest fought back and moved for a preliminary ruling on the validity of the patent.
According to reporting by Bloomberg News, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled that Lumen View’s patent was invalid because it claimed an “abstract idea of computer assisted matchmaking.” That decision could be appealed.
FindTheBest operates a network of sites that compile and synthesize publicly available data to help consumers find the best goods and services according to their preferences, whether it’s a bottle of scotch, a law school, or a wealth management firm.
In a September interview with the Business Times, FindTheBest CEO Kevin O’Conner accused the Delaware firm of being a so-called “patent troll,” a company that enforces patents against alleged infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not actually make goods or services based upon the patents in question.
In response to Lumen View’s lawsuit, FindTheBest filed its own complaint under the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization Act against the Delaware firm, the inventors listed on the patent, and a number of companies allegedly connected to them. In that suit, FindTheBest alleged that the inventors use a string of shell companies to “extort” licensee fees from vulnerable companies without doing any due diligence to determine whether the targets may have actually violated the patents.
“This is a very high bar we’ve got to cross, but we think the behavior they exhibited — especially threatening to file criminal charges if we didn’t settle that day — was extortionary,” O’Connor said.
The RICO lawsuit is still ongoing.