Another Patent Troll Slain. You Are Now Free To Rotate Your Smartphone.

Rotatable Technologies is now an ex-patent troll. I say “ex-troll” because its patent, US Pat. No. 6,326,978, has been declared unpatentable by the US Patent and Trademark Office in response to a challenge (called an Inter Partes Review, or IPR) filed by Rackspace. This continues our streak of challengingand winning, against patent trolls.

Let’s rewind: Last year, a patent troll called Rotatable Technologies sued Rackspace. Rotatable owned a patent that it claimed covers the screen rotation technology that comes standard in just about every smartphone. You know, when you flip your device sideways and the screen shifts orientation from portrait mode to landscape mode? Like nearly all the apps in the Apple and Android app stores, Rackspace uses standard functionality provided by Apple’s libraries and Android open source software to provide this display feature in our mobile cloud applications.

Rotatable sued us and immediately asked for $75,000 to go away. We refused. And we fought. It’s Rackspace policy to not pay off patent trolls, even if it costs us more to fight. Eventually Rotatable offered to just walk away – but we refused again. Just as we promised last year, we challenged the patent and the USPTO invalidated it.

This means that Rackspace will not pay one penny to this troll, nor will Apple, Netflix, Electronic Arts, Target, Whole Foods or any of the other companies sued by Rotatable for how they use screen rotation technology in their apps.

According to recent studies, patent trolls lose 88 percent of the time when defendants go all the way. With some of the recent changes in the law it is also much easier for those of us who are sued by a troll to recoup our fees from these extortion attempts, validating our business decision to pursue every case to the hilt.

We are still fighting some of the trolls that have come after us and we expect to win those cases too. Without changes in the law we believe that the only way to end the plague of patent trolls is by fighting every troll that comes at us – and we encourage all others to do the same.

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Van Lindberg is a Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Rackspace, where he serves in both legal and technical roles. As associate general counsel, Lindberg oversees the Intellectual Property program, directing Rackspace's strategy and policy around patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret and open source matters. He also heads Rackspace's patent reform lobbying efforts. On the technical side, Lindberg co-chairs the company’s Technical Career Track program, or TCT, a leadership development program for the most highly skilled technical Rackers. He also does technical strategy and ecosystem engagement, identifying emerging technologies, separating out differentiating versus non-differentiating product elements and using open source strategies to be more competitive. Previously, Lindberg worked for the international corporate law firm Haynes and Boone, LLP, where he wrote "Intellectual Property and Open Source,” and grew the firm's open source practice. He also did intellectual property transactional work, patent prosecution, litigation and post-grant actions (ex parte and inter partes reexams/reviews). In 2012, the American Bar Association Journal named him one of "America's Top 12 Techiest Attorneys." Lindberg currently serves as chairman of the board of the Python Software Foundation, sits on the board of the OpenStack Foundation, and was the first chair of the Docker Governance Advisory Board.

28 COMMENTS

  1. /me hands Van the fearsome two-handed Great Sword “Troll-smiter Death-bringer”, which was forged by Weyland Smith in the Pits of Doom. Take this, worthy warrior, and lead your team to glory, honor, and freedom from useless-but-potentially-expensive-in-terms-of-both-money-and-time distractions! Destruction to the trolls!!

  2. I might just start using your service to thank you for this war on trolls. Seriously guys, you’re doing us all a huge service, fight on!

  3. The far bigger issue here is – how/why did the USPTO grant them a patent in the first place??? Thanks for fighting that patent. USPTO needs new management and an overhaul.

  4. How about a link to the actual court documents and some information on the “leadership” behind Rotatable? Pictures of the “executives” would be handy too. Any web search for them should bring up this fantastic news.

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