Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said Thursday that his office is investigating a Texas law firm known to represent patent trolls, or technology licensing companies that frequently sue other businesses for seemingly innocuous reasons such as using a particular line of software code.
Bruning said his office is looking into Farney Daniels LLP to see if there are violations of the Nebraska Consumer Protection Act and Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
The law firm, Bruning said, has sent letters to Nebraska businesses on behalf of patent trolls threatening infringement lawsuits. In many cases, suits filed over such patent issues relate to technological processes embedded within computers or other devices that were developed long ago and are obscure to the end user.
"Businesses that have used, developed, or sold established technologies are often caught off-guard by such threats," Bruning said in a statement. "Patent trolls make egregious threats with little or no valid legal purpose to gain fast money. It is a top priority of our office to protect Nebraska consumers and businesses from this sort of baseless harassment.”
Patent trolls have attracted great controversy nationwide, with Congress considering action to limit their activities. Such companies typically buy technology patents from inventors, wait for someone to infringe upon them, then sue.
So far this year, First National Bank of Omaha and Pinnacle Bank have been sued by patent trolls on allegations of infringement.