Troll Jumps the Gun, Sues Cisco Too Early

By Troll Tracker

October 17, 2007

Well, I knew the day would come. I'm getting my troll news from Dennis Crouch [ ] now. According to Dennis, a company called ESN sued Cisco for patent infringement on October 15th, while the patent did not issue until October 16th. I looked, and ESN appears to be a shell entity managed by the President and CEO of DirectAdvice, an online financial website. And, yes, he's a lawyer. He clerked for a federal judge in Connecticut, and was an attorney at Day, Berry & Howard. Now he's suing Cisco on behalf of a non-practicing entity.

I asked myself, can ESN do this? I would think that the court would lack subject matter jurisdiction, since ESN owned no property right at the time of the lawsuit, and the passage of time should not cure that. And, in fact, I was right [ ]:

A declaratory judgment of "invalidity" or "noninfringement" with respect to Elk's pending patent application would have had no legal meaning or effect. The fact that the patent was about to issue and would have been granted before the court reached the merits of the case is of no moment. Justiciability must be judged as of the time of filing, not as of some indeterminate future date when the court might reach the merits and the patent has issued. We therefore hold that a threat is not sufficient to create a case or controversy unless it is made with respect to a patent that has issued before a complaint is filed. Thus, the district court correctly held that there was no justiciable case or controversy in this case at the time the complaint was filed. GAF contends, however, that the issuance of the '144 patent cured any jurisdictional defect. We disagree. Later events may not create jurisdiction where none existed at the time of filing.
GAF Building Materials Corp. v. Elk Corp. of Texas, 90 F.3d 479, 483 (Fed. Cir. 1996) (citations and quotations omitted).

One other interesting tidbit: Cisco appeared to pick up on this, very quickly. Cisco filed a declaratory judgment action (in Connecticut) yesterday, the day after ESN filed its null complaint. Since Cisco's lawsuit was filed after the patent issued, it should stick in Connecticut.

Perhaps realizing their fatal flaw (as a couple of other bloggers/news items have pointed out), ESN (represented by Chicago firm McAndrews Held & Malloy and local counsel Eric Albritton and T. Johnny Ward) filed an amended complaint in Texarkana today - amending to change absolutely nothing at all, by the way, except the filing date of the complaint. Survey says? XXXXXX (insert "Family Feud" sound here). Sorry, ESN. You're on your way to New Haven. Wonder how Johnny Ward will play there?

7:00 PM

Copyright 2007