Revealed Patent Blogger, and Employer, Sued for Defamation
By Dan Slater
The Wal Street Journal Blogs
March 13, 2008
WSJ colleague Bobby White, who covers Cisco from San Francisco, passed along this update on the Patent Troll Tracker saga:
Late last month, we posted [ http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2008/02/26/bounty-hunter-outs-author-of-patent-troll-tracker-blog/ ] on Rick Frenkel, a lawyer and the director of IP litigation at Cisco who outed himself as the author of the widely-read Patent Troll Tracker [ http://trolltracker.blogspot.com/ ] blog. The blog follows companies said to holding patents solely to sue for infringement. (Now the blog can be read only by invited members.)
The next day, both Frenkel and his employer, Cisco, were slapped with a defamation suit. The suit stemmed from a blog post Frenkel wrote in which he alleged irregularities in a patent case in which two Texas lawyers, Johnny Ward and Eric Albritton, represented ESN against Cisco. The post questioned whether someone had tampered with the date of a patent filing. Frenkel concluded: “This is yet another example of the abusive nature of litigating patent cases in the Banana Republic of East Texas.” (Click here [ http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2006/09/25/everything-youve-always-wanted-to-know-about-marshall/ ], here [ http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2006/07/25/are-you-a-patent-attorney-visting-marshall-texas-read-this/ ] and here [ http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2006/03/27/are-patent-trolls-grazing-the-east-texas-plains/ ] for past posts on the patent landscape of East Texas.)
According to news reports, Ward originally filed a defamation suit last November, wanting to depose managers at Google, which hosted the then-anonymous blog. When Frenkel revealed his identity, Ward amended the suit. Albritton filed his own suit against Frenkel and Cisco on March 3 alleging defamation. Meanwhile, the original case in question, ESN vs. Cisco, was dismissed by agreement of the parties this past November.
Albritton wasn’t immediately available for comment, while Ward requested that we contact his lawyer, Nick Patton, who has not yet returned a call.
As for Cisco, where Frenkel still works, a spokesperson says: “We would like to underscore that the comments made in the employee’s personal blog represented his own opinions and several of his comments are not consistent with Cisco’s views. We continue to have high regard for the judiciary of the Eastern District of Texas and confidence in the integrity of its judges.”
4:50 PM ET