In the summer season of 2017, we wrote about a battle between Cloudflare, the San Francisco-basically basically based fully net security and drawl provide network, and two attorneys who’d beforehand litigated intellectual property cases on behalf of a reliable quantity of tech giants. The attorneys had arrive collectively to originate Blackbird Technologies, a Boston and Chicago-basically basically based fully firm that speedily amassed dozens of patents, then started the utilization of them to file dozens of patent infringement lawsuits in opposition to firms, collectively with Cloudflare.
The swimsuit was typical in every means, other than how Cloudflare spoke back to it. In problem of quietly decide, as delight in some targets of Blackbird and other so-called patent trolls, Cloudflare made up our minds to fight aid in a truly public means, blogging extensively, talking with news stores love ours and, most crucially, turning to somebody and everybody who would possibly possibly possibly well abet it locate prior art. The premise wasn’t merely to invalidate the patent that Blackbird was the utilization of to sue Cloudflare — but to invalidate all of Blackbird’s patents. Cloudlfare declared warfare.
To its credit, Cloudflare obtained, too. No lower than, the case in opposition to Cloudflare itself was at final disregarded, and in a postmortem published the day past, the firm described in component its game realizing and heaps of more specifics spherical its efforts to crowdsource prior art that can possibly possibly well invalidate Blackbird’s patents.
It published, shall we insist, that it had obtained 275 entire outlandish submissions from a hundred and fifty five folk on 49 separate patents, and 2 submissions on 26 patents. Roughly forty% of those linked to the patent asserted in opposition to Cloudflare, but folk moreover grew to change into up prior art submissions that can possibly possibly well abet defend Niantic (which moreover is making an are attempting to bat aid Blackbird), as effectively as Lululemon and New Steadiness, both of which were sued beforehand by Blackbird over a patent Blackbird owns touching on to a “sports actions bra having an integral storage pouch.”
Cloudflare moreover went after the founders of Blackbird, filing ethics complaints rooted in suggestions of legitimate habits that prohibit lawyers from acquiring a cause within the aid of motion to explain on their very grasp behalf. The salvage those complaints would possibly possibly possibly well lead is a inquire of trace for now, even supposing it’s price noting that indubitably one of Blackbird’s founders, Chris Freeman, formerly of Kirkland & Ellis, for the time being works as yet one more at a Chicago firm that funds litigation.
Either means, Cloudflare’s victory is a feel-swish myth in a huge sea of hideous news, but it moreover begs the inquire of: what’s next?
Some would possibly possibly possibly well hope Cloudflare will in a system continue its campaign in opposition to injustice. They’ll be dissatisfied in that case — Cloudflare has acknowledged from the outset that after its great tangle with Blackbird had ended, it was getting out of the patent-troll-combating industrial, a resolution that the firm’s celebrated counsel, Doug Kramer, reaffirmed to us in conversation late final week. As he puts it, Cloudflare’s crusade was never intended to change into “life-lengthy advocacy” given the firm’s other, more urgent issues (collectively with going public in September).
Quiet, passing the torch obtained’t be easy. Kramer acknowledges that he has obtained “a quantity of cell phone calls from other celebrated counsels or IP lawyers and CEOs [who are also the targets of patent lawsuits] who’ve acknowledged, ‘Isn’t there one thing we can enact right here as an alternative of roll over and write a check?’”
Which brings us to the purpose of the day past’s put up. It wasn’t simply to crow about its desire over Blackbird, no pun supposed. It was more to thank the community on which Cloudflare relied lots, Kramer says. And it was to “construct certain there are other ways forward right here,” says Kramer, who hopes other firms will employ section of Cloudflare’s blueprint, as effectively as salvage their very grasp.
Taking a stand isn’t for everybody. As Kramer observes, once a patent case is filed in opposition to a firm, “the alternatives are all hideous alternatives, and a quantity of firms desire the least hideous option,” which is to write down a check to make a decision the component. It’s why firms li