Congratulations to Andy Ubel. Who’s that? He’s the chief patent attorney for Valspar in Minnesota. He got one of the famous blackmail letters from Solaia and refused to pay. [Editor’s note: Shame on me, these letters aren’t blackmail, because lawyers send them!] Instead, he put together a coalition of nine other companies, all of whom had been threatened by Solaia and Niro, Scavone, Haller and Niro. They agreed to pool their resources and fight. They sued Solaia in 2003.
At the same time, Rockwell, Arvin Meritor and their law firm, Fish & Richardson, were winning in a Chicago court. The win in Chicago made it easier for Valspar, et al., to make their case in Minneapolis, especially since the nine companies also hired Fish & Richardson. You may recall that Fish & Richardson were actually sued by Solaia, in a hardly ever done step to coerce them into dropping representation of Rockwell…and they won that case too.
Eleven days after the March 28, 2005 victory, the Minnesota case settled, with Solaia giving all nine firms a free pass and a license to use the 318 patent. And each company paid a total of $67,500.00.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Sunday quoted reputed boss patent troll, Ray Niro, as saying, “It really blows my hot buttons to hear all this troll nonsense. Those who talk about trolls are know-nothings. They have no background dealing or enforcing patents.” Niro, the lead Solaia attorney, said his style of patent litigation helps cash-poor inventors protect their intellectual property, adding that big companies are not the only ones entitled to patent protection.
That would be true, Mr. Niro, if a cash-poor inventor was involved here. But as we all know, from years of court documents, Solaia is a one man company using your law firm as a mail drop, and actually located, last I heard, in Arlington, Tex., and the only beneficiaries of this matter are yourself, your firm, Solaia, and Schneider Automation, all of whom by contract gain substantially from the license fees and penalties you negotiate, or win at law. Please show me the poor, impoverished inventor among you. As a matter of fact, the actual inventor assigned his patent to Square-D nearly a generation ago.
Regarding the matter in Minnesota, Niro told the Star-Tribune, “They want to say, ‘Oh we are heroes because we banded together and took on the evil giant.’ That is nonsense.” Niro continued. “All they did was wait until there was a related decision down in Chicago that they perceived as being beneficial to them. And then Solaia agreed that they would defer based on that decision.
Absolutely it was Solaia’s decision. They didn’t have to dismiss the case.”
Right, Mr. Niro. Sure.
But is Solaia issuing any more of those mass produced threatening letters?
And what do YOU think about this?