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Some of the nation’s most trusted news outlets – Reuters, USA Today, and the Grey Lady herself – were hit with essentially identical patent infringement suits this week, Deadline reported today.Clouding IP, a limited liability company in Delaware, filed seven lawsuits on Tuesday claiming the companies’ websites and mobile apps infringe its patents, Deadline reported.
Paid Content reporter Jeff John Roberts called Clouding a “mysterious shell company” and a “patent troll.”
“The companies now face the unpleasant choice between paying the firm to go away or saddling up for a multi-million dollar legal fight,” he wrote.
Unfortunately for companies like the New York Times, the media is becoming a new target of “patent trolls,” or companies that make their money from licensing patents or filing lawsuits, Roberts reported for Time in August.
At the time, the Grey Lady was tangling with at least two so-called “patent trolls.”
The Times’ general counsel Kenneth Richieri has implied the suits are the price news outlets pay for going digital.
“In some ways, it’s a tax for being on the Internet,” he told the AP.
Apparently, virtually no media company that wants to do anything online is safe from patent lawsuits.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was sued over an “innocuous feature” that let readers know about local events, while last year, Yahoo lost a major patent infringement lawsuit, the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine recently noted in its Media Law Monitor blog.
“[A]s media companies develop and use innovative business methods and technologies they face risk of patent infringement claims in addition to the more familiar risks of defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement,” the firm’s blog noted.
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