Earlier this month I wrote about how Erich Spangenberg could be on the hook for $4 million in attorneys' fees to car companies that he repeatedly sued for patent infringement. He will indeed have to pay. There's a story on Law.com today.
We learn that Orion IP—perhaps the most active of Spangenberg's many patent-holding companies—has raked in $72.3 million over a few years, forcing about 100 companies into settlements by claiming various aspects of their websites infringe the handful of software patents he bought.
Judge Barbara Crabb's order will surely put a chill on patent-holders who thought that the Western District of Wisconsin might become the new E.D. Texas. The lawyers that took down Spangenberg's empire are from Kilpatrick Stockton; this is a huge victory for them.
I have more to add on this case, which reveals some of the inner workings of this mysterious business.
But first, and I'm speaking solely on my own behalf here, it's incredibly dismaying that Judge Crabb has allowed nearly every document filed in the case since trial to be filed under seal. This lawsuit is, in one sense, about online shopping technology. That affects everyone in this country. For three months now Crabb has operated a secret, closed court; I've read through hundreds of patent dockets and I've never seen anything like it. This should stop. I don't know if it's legal, but I know it ain't right.