Fighting Back Against Patent Trolls
and Protecting the Underdogs of Innovation
Imagine this: You are a promising startup that has just created an incredible new online game. It is KILLER. People are absolutely loving it, word is spreading, things are looking great! And just about when you’re starting to see some real financial returns... you get a letter claiming your new game infringes a mysterious company's patent. This mysterious company demands that you pay a sizable settlement fee or they will sue you.
What Can't Be Done Alone Can Be Done With The CROWDThis scenario above is happening, as you read this, to startups, small companies, and others. Some will settle and others will be forced to shut down. Patent trolls are stifling innovation and hurting our economy with every move they make. Startups and small organizations have not had the voice, the reach, or the resources to affect the actions of these predatory patent trolls. However, history has proven that if all who want change come together to demand it, things tend to change. So we have launched this campaign in the spirit of that promise. What can’t be done alone CAN BE DONE WITH THE CROWD!
Enter, the Power of the CROWD.
We are Article One Partners, a 35 person startup. Most of the time, we conduct this research for some of the world's biggest brands, including Sony, Microsoft, and Philips. But as a startup ourselves, understanding the burden of limited resources, we wanted to do something to help fellow startups, small organizations and others affected by these patent trolls. That’s why we created Ninja STAR and we are thrilled to see it make an impact for these startups.
We've been using crowdsourcing to research patents for over five years. By examining the quality of patents and exposing the weaknesses, we hope to improve the whole system. Many patents shouldn't exist because their idea is not new. Patent trolls take advantage of these weak patents.
We have a global, crowdsourced network of researchers. These researchers hunt for and find evidence that can prove a patent was not the first to disclose the invention.This information can then be used to invalidate the patent, and make any assertions on the part of a troll a moot point. With this information available, when a troll approaches a startup with a low-quality patent and our researchers find the evidence to prove its invalidity, the troll could completely lose their power in the lawsuit!
We have a phenomenal Advisory Board whose advice guides our ninja mission. It is comprised of experienced professionals in the industry and includes members of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the App Developer Alliance, among others.
The Visionary Endgame? Intimidate the Trolls.
Our goal is to launch and maintain a completely free, data-rich, up-to-date, member-supported database that small companies can use to help defend against patent trolls. We call it the Ninja Startup Troll Attack
Resource or Ninja STAR for short. We will launch our crusade with one specific patent: our first Ninja STAR patent in what will become an extensive series of Ninja STAR patents. Growing from there, and only with your help, we will show patent trolls that frivolous lawsuits won't be tolerated. Ever.
We will start by examining a patent owned by Treehouse Avatar Technologies to see if there is any evidence that the invention existed prior to the patent application, rendering the patent invalid. The patent U.S. 8,180,858 covers technology behind assigning characteristics to gaming avatars. Yes, avatars.
They are asserting their patent against numerous startups who can’t afford to fight. In fact, one of them, Turbine Inc, just settled for an undisclosed amount rather than face a lawsuit from Treehouse. Turbine is one of the larger defendants (they created Dungeons and Dragons Online), so the bad news is this doesn't bode well for the little guys. The good news is that WE CAN HELP… but we need YOUR support.
We have resources and experience that enable us to find this evidence. We’d like to make this evidence available to startups or others threatened by the patent free of charge, but we can only make it happen with your help. Our $17,500 goal will get this off the ground and lay the groundwork for a larger impact on the startup community through launching the online database. If you're interested in what Operation Ninja STAR can become, check out our FAQ.
This approach has never been done before. We believe it will work, and when it does this will be just the beginning.
The Bulletproof Battleplan
Once we reach our goal:
We will use our resources to identify patent evidence utilizing a uniquely effective crowdsourcing method, which you can learn more about here.
A team of analysts will review the evidence we uncover.
The most valuable evidence will be added to our STAR database
The database will be made available at no charge to those threatened by Treehouse. To request access, click here.
Article One founder and patent attorney Cheryl Milone will provide free consultations to startups on how to use the evidence.
On Your Marks...Get Set...Crowdfund!
Since Article One Partners was founded, we have helped research over 1,000 different patents. We have provided great value to our clients. But most of these clients are big and we want to provide support to startups who don’t have those large research budgets. Startups are easy targets for trolls (“pay my settlement fee or face an expensive lawsuit!”). So they often settle, not feeling there is any alternative. As the Turbine settlement proves, without your help, the probable outcome is more settlements and a continued drain on innovation. We need to come together and provide an alternative. The startups need our support. So...
OK, Let's Do This!
Now is the time for you to get involved. Don’t wait another minute to support this campaign against patent trolls. Together we can stop all the damaging negative ripples they initiate. Backing this project will provide a monumental benefit to small companies and startups... and you can be a part of it. Everyone talks about how unfair the current patent system is... and together we can do something about it.
If you have additional questions, please visit our FAQ.