Maybe you have to have been a kid in the 70’s to know who Buford Pusser is, but suffice it to say that Lori Swanson, Minnesota’s Attorney General, took a page right smack out of his book when she went after the Scanner Dudes. You may know them as MPHJ, a company with as many shells as a South Padre Island beach, all of which were created to send shakedown notices to every Mom and Pop who owns a scanner and uses email. Like Vermont and Nebraska before, Minnesota has thrown down the gauntlet against these guys and others of their ilk.
Robert Ten Eyck, an intended victim of the Scanner Dude Scam, said it right:
“It’s difficult enough operating a small company without some sideshow that really has no legal basis for happening,”
That’s exactly what these guys are, a sideshow. You know, the thing that people don’t really pay attention to as they rush past for the main attractions. Only once in a while, you find that the bearded woman is attracting more attention than the elephants, so you start trotting her out more often, trying to milk that cash cow for as much as you can. Well, circus boys? Looks like more and more, folks are on to your snake-oil scam.
For MPHJ’s part, they honestly don’t seem to understand what’s going on:
“The agreement does not allege any wrongdoing on the part of MPHJ,” the company said in a statement issued through the lawyer. “It also does not restrict MPHJ’s right to bring patent infringement suits against Minnesota companies.”
Is it just me, or doesn’t this quote from the Star Tribune article say exactly that (emphasis mine)?
Under the settlement, MPHJ and a host of its subsidiaries agreed to stop their campaign and to not restart without approval from the state attorney general.
What the hell, Farney Daniels?
In another brilliant quote from Mr. Farney:
Bryan Farney, a lawyer at Farney Daniels near Austin, Texas, said that MPHJ Technology is legitimately enforcing the patents covering a technology invented by an IT consultant in Virginia named Laurence Klein in the mid-1990s.
Watch and learn, folks: if what you’re doing is legitimate, people tend not to come after you. So far, we’ve got Vermont, Nebraska, and now Minnesota lobbing complaints and suits against you. That should tell you something, and what it should tell you is that your business model is, and forgive me for shouting, NOT LEGITIMATE.
Lori Swanson now joins the ranks of other heroes of the Patent World. Like the Braveheart Guy (Alan Schoenbaum of Rackspace) and Luke Skywalker (Vermont’s AG, William Sorrell) before her, she is speaking softly and carrying a big stick. And in the words of the immortal Buford Pusser himself, or at least the movie about him:
If you let them do this to me and get away with it, THEN YOU’RE GIVING THEM THE ETERNAL RIGHT TO DO THE SAME DAMN THING TO ANY ONE OF YOU!
What I think he means is, don’t let the trolls win EVER. If they do, they will go after everybody else they can.
Look out, trolls. Thanks to people like Lori Swanson, it’s our turn at bat!
Note: There are already over 45 letters sent by Farney Daniels tracked at That Patent Tool. Add your letters today…let’s track these trolls!