Patent trolls, again
In this case, the patents in question were granted to the Shoah Foundation, a non-profit launched with the help of Steven Spielberg that is dedicated to recording testimony of Holocaust survivors.
A Shoah spokesman said by phone that the University of Southern California, where the Foundation is located, now controls the patents. As TechDirt reported last year, USC auctioned a license to the patents in 2010 to a private equity firm which created a series of subsidiaries — including Preservation Technologies LLC — to demand payouts from companies ranging from Google to Facebook. This month, it expanded the campaign to target the Times, Fox, CBS and video service Vimeo.
Patent troll litigation is a drain on a wide variety of industries, and raises ethical questions for universities like USC, which espouse a belief in research and innovation while simultaneously facilitating broad-based patent trolling. The University of Boston recently commenced a similar lawsuit campaign directly, filing suits against Apple and dozens of other companies over a 1997 patent.
See also BU Sues Leading Tech Firms for Patent Infringement including text
The University has filed a number of lawsuits against some of the brightest stars in the high-tech constellation—Microsoft, Motorola, Sony, and BlackBerry among them—to defend a College of Engineering professor’s patented material used in the production of blue LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which are components in many electronic devices.