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posted by janrinok on Thursday August 14 2014, @11:47AM   Printer-friendly
from the one-for-the-little-guy dept.

The latest from the "lawyer-eat-lawyer" dept. from

Law Students Fend Off a Patent Troll.

Free legal support drastically changes a patent troll's calculus. They win by offering to settle cases for less than the cost of the legal defense. It's much cheaper for defendants to pay a troll $50,000 to settle a lawsuit than to pay lawyers $200,000 to win it. However, when a law school clinic is involved, the cost of legal defense drops to zero, and defendants have no incentive to pay trolls anything at all. With a free legal and a winning defense, who wouldn't fight all the way to trial? [...] Running a patent litigation defense clinic is not easy, but its possible, and its a worthwhile project. Patent trolls hurt innovation, and law students can help stop them.

This is a pleasant idea — the law students get practical experience; and the Patent troll gets to deal with a free defense against the claim. A real win for everyone.

Has anyone else seen a local law school pick up these kind of cases?

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Lagg on Thursday August 14 2014, @12:12PM

    by Lagg (105) on Thursday August 14 2014, @12:12PM (#81203) Homepage Journal

    I've never seen something like this occur until now but looking past the rather mild victory of fending them off (which really doesn't matter in the long run unless you break their bank) it's a pretty neat prospect. In the majority of these cases it seems like the troll's claim can be easily defeated and possibly even their patent being invalidated if only there was someone with decent knowledge and ability to read the legalese involved. I think a law student could satisfy that criteria if they're worth their salt and as the summary/article says it'd sure beat the hell out of a standard internship. I mean I'm no lawyer but surely having a long list of victories on one's resume fresh out of school can only lead to good things. Now if only it would spread and become something regularly offered. Those mild victories could quickly turn into death by a thousand cuts for these asshats.

    -- [] 🗿
    • (Score: 2) by carguy on Thursday August 14 2014, @01:24PM

      by carguy (568) on Thursday August 14 2014, @01:24PM (#81227)

      At MIT they have a very successful Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), matching undergrads with researchers (profs, etc, typically with PhD). The undergrads often produce useful/original research results.

      Perhaps this would be a good model for a law school -- matching law students up as helpers for faculty (practicing lawyers) who guide the case?

      • (Score: 1) by Wootery on Thursday August 14 2014, @05:24PM

        by Wootery (2341) on Thursday August 14 2014, @05:24PM (#81341)

        matching law students up as helpers for faculty (practicing lawyers) who guide the case?

        I doubt it. The point here as I understand it is that the law students were not really working as mere interns. What they got out of it was their own real-world legal success to put on their CV. If you start involving practicing lawyers, you've just got an internship in which you're asking practising lawyers to work pro bono. That's not really what this is about. In this case, the students managed it just about on their own. (That is at least the impression the article gives. The real difference between being an intern and doing work with the BLIP Clinic, I don't know.)

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Nollij on Thursday August 14 2014, @01:00PM

    by Nollij (4559) on Thursday August 14 2014, @01:00PM (#81220)

    The risk is that you are dealing with students. Students will make mistakes. Even if the claims are weak, they can still prevail because of amateur representation.

    There is a reason that passing the bar is a firm requirement, unless you are representing yourself.

    • (Score: 2) by Blackmoore on Thursday August 14 2014, @01:25PM

      by Blackmoore (57) on Thursday August 14 2014, @01:25PM (#81230) Journal

      And you may see a change in the representatives in the middle of the process as the students graduate.

      Still - if enough of these students see this side of the battle they may be less likely to take work on the other.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14 2014, @03:26PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14 2014, @03:26PM (#81287)

        At my clinic, just like at a real firm, supervisors still have to sign off on everything the students do. It just takes way less time to do that then to draw it up yourself. Students are also required to give help in the future if it is needed, even if not in the clinic. Students also tend to take better notes because they know they might leave or get busy.

        The real benefit is dealing with voluminous discovery; students come out of the woodwork to help with that because they know that the only reason in many cases is just to drive up the cost of litigation. Best example is a case I helped with where we got over a million pages of mandatory discovery that arrived in boxes and a discovery request that took 10 students almost two weeks to assemble (which we did rather than challenge it because we knew that is what they wanted). Well, we sent an equally monstrous mandatory and discovery request. They challenged it for being excessive and as proof offered their estimated bill, which was almost $100,000. The judge denied the request because our request was smaller and more specific than theirs, plus he probably knew what they were doing.

        An interesting benefit is that our state allows fee shifting. Normally you only get the actual amount charged, but in our state charity and pro bono work fees can be shifted at whatever market value the court thinks is fair. The case above paid almost the entire clinic's budget for three years.

        • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Thursday August 14 2014, @10:39PM

          by mhajicek (51) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 14 2014, @10:39PM (#81495)

          Nice! Kudos!

          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
    • (Score: 2) by sjames on Friday August 15 2014, @03:23AM

      by sjames (2882) on Friday August 15 2014, @03:23AM (#81579) Journal

      The students are supervised by someone who is in good standing with the bar who signs off on everything.