That erupted into a web of allegations between Harris, his former firm, Harris’ lawyers at Niro Scavone—and now Patent Troll Tracker blogger and Cisco IP director Rick Frenkel. Now L' Affaire Harris continues in the good old Northern District.
Last week, lawyers from the Niro firm filed a motion in a San Jose federal court to compel Frenkel’s deposition. I only saw it this morning, and put off posting on it to finish another story; of course, I was promptly scooped by my friend John Letzing at Marketwatch.
Harris’ lawyers want to depose Frenkel this month; can’t wait, they say. Frenkel and Cisco have responded with a motion to quash the subpoena. Niro, of course, is Frenkel’s most well-known adversary; he offered a $5,000 bounty for Troll Tracker’s identity and upped it to more than $10,000. (Niro has said the bounty went uncollected; he doesn’t know who outed Frenkel).
The full petition to depose Frenkel is not online, although a request to speed up the process is.
"Richard Frenkel, in his blog, Patent Troll Tracker, promoted Fish’s ownership claims, creating doubt among potential licensees and boosting Fish’s claims to ownership of the Harris patents."
"Frenkel, as the Director of Intellectual Property at Cisco Systems, has a clear association with Fish & Richardson ("Fish") and its attorneys. In fact, Fish has represented Cisco in several law suits such as Cisco Systems Inc. et al. v. GPNE Corp., Case No.1:07-cv-00671. In addition to the professional relationship with Fish as in house counsel for Cisco Systems, Frenkel has maintained a professional relationship with Kathi Lutton, the head of the firm's Global Litigation Practice. Mr. Frenkel participated with Kathi Lutton and John Dragseth (another Fish attorney) in a webinar on May 30, entitled KSR, Managing Intellectual Property. Given this association between Fish and Frenkel, it appears that Frenkel was acting at Fish’s behest to interfere with ICR’s ability to license its patent portfolio. Frenkel may be Fish’s agent or may simply be acting at Fish’s direction. ICR is entitled to know the extent of the relationship and common interest between Fish and Frenkel, because it directly impacts Fish’s tortious interference with ICR’s licensing activity.
In a September blog post, Frenkel had asked whether Harris was the "mastermind" behind these lawsuits—an allegation that Fish made explicitly, saying Harris targeted firm clients like Google and Dell for patent infringement lawsuits, a "stunning" betrayal by a top lawyer. Harris won't say whether he has any financial interest in the Illinois Computer Research v. Google litigation (07-cv-05081, N.D. Illinois).
Speaking of that lawsuit, the Johnny Ward Jr. defamation suit against Cisco and Frenkel has moved into an Arkansas federal court. Cisco and Frenkel are asking to transfer it, oddly enough, to the Eastern District of Texas.