Camden, New Jersey – Patent bully Garfum has abandoned its lawsuit against an online photo hobbyist, just one day after a federal judge set the date for a face-off in court against lawyers for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
EFF together with Durie Tangri LLP represent Bytephoto.com, which has hosted user-submitted photos and run competitions for the best since 2003. In 2007, a company called Garfum.com applied for a patent on the “Method of Sharing Multi-Media Content Among Users in a Global Computer Network.” The patent takes the well-known concept of a competition by popular vote and applies it to the modern context of generic computer networks, and Garfum claims that it covers the rights to online competitions on social networks where users vote for the winner—despite the fact that courts have ruled that this kind of abstract idea using generic computer technology cannot be patented.
Garfum used this patent to accuse EFF’s client of infringement, filing a federal lawsuit without warning. EFF moved to dismiss the complaint earlier this year, arguing that the junk patent should be declared invalid. But after all the briefing had been completed and just one day after the court scheduled a hearing on the motion to dismiss, Garfum capitulated: it dropped its case with a promise not to sue Bytephoto.com again rather than defend its patent before a judge.
“We’re pleased that Garfum has abandoned its claims against our client. But it’s a travesty that this case was ever filed in the first place,” said EFF Staff Attorney Daniel Nazer, who is also the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. “Our client began running online ‘favorite photo’ competitions years before this patent was filed. The idea that you could patent this abstract idea, find innocent enthusiasts online and demand settlement money—and then slink away once challenged and before the court issues a ruling—goes against any sense of fair play.”
“Patent bullies count on not having to defend their weak patents in a court of law. They drive up costs with baseless lawsuits and then bow out before getting a decision they don’t like,” said EFF Staff Attorney Vera Ranieri. “So while we are glad our client doesn’t have to worry about Garfum anymore, there’s still a lot of work to do the fight against bad patents.”
Joe Gratz of the law firm Durie Tangri LLP and Frank Corrado of Barry, Corrado & Grassi, PC are co-counsel with EFF.
For more on this case: