Tuesday, August 20, 2019

N.H. Supreme Court Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit Brought by Patent Troll

In a unanimous decision, the New Hampshire Supreme Court on August 16 upheld a lower court ruling that dismissed defamation claims brought by a patent assertion entity against the American Bankers Association (ABA), the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and other defendants who labeled the company and its operator a “patent troll.”

The suit was brought by David Barcelou and a company he controlled. Barcelou held a commercially unsuccessful patent for cash-dispensing-related technology, and between 2011 and 2012 he generated $3 million in licensing fees from demand letters to banks and credit unions.

Patent trolls work by acquiring patents to common processes and technological elements—such as scan-to-email functionality on a copier or an ATM’s ability to connect to the Internet—then demanding “licensing fees” and threatening litigation. The cost of litigation is intended to pressure businesses to pay the fee, regardless of the patent’s validity.

The court found that the term “patent troll” is a non-actionable expression of opinion.

Read the opinion.

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