Fighting a Patent Troll - and Winning

Uniloc USA Inc. is one of the largest and most aggressive patent trolls in the market today. It made its name with a $380M trial verdict against Microsoft and in 2012 unveiled a new patent and a new national litigation campaign. It began asserting U.S. 6,704,222 – a patent concerning a particular architecture for concurrent software licensing – claiming the patent encompassed all manner of software licensing systems. Uniloc filed suit against a range of companies in Eastern District of Texas. Its plan was to obtain a favorable Markman ruling and establish other precedents it could use to extort huge licensing fees.

South Carolina-based SlickEdit, a manufacturer of an integrated development environment (a kind of “Microsoft Word on steroids” for software coding), was one of the named defendants. SlickEdit decided not to play along. It hired Verrill Dana.

In a hostile venue, on a complex patent, and against one of the most aggressive patent trolls in the U.S., litigation partner Tim Shannon and his team began to methodically dismantle the claims against SlickEdit. Tim began coordinating joint defense calls, attacking the troll’s Rule 11 pre-suit investigation, and staking out Markman positions that were both reasonable and dispositive. His team developed the pre-Markman technology tutorial and completely mastered the patent.

It worked. Arguing on behalf of the joint defense group at the Markman hearing – in which the Court repeatedly questioned Uniloc’s claim construction proposals – the Verrill Dana team demolished the other side’s arguments. Three days later, Uniloc threw in the towel. It called SlickEdit and offered to settle the case for zero dollars. It’s only condition: that Verrill Dana stop helping the joint defense group brief various post-Markman issues. SlickEdit agreed.

Clark Maurer, President and CEO of SlickEdit, issued a press release stating, "Tim and his team mastered the patent, mastered our product inside and out, and led a claim construction argument that literally threatened to derail Uniloc’s entire national campaign."

Our victory in this battle is an important step in the right direction. This is good news for legitimate businesses in the technology sector – and a lesson to other would-be licensees that fighting bullies can pay off.