You'd never know from reading the headlines and the one sided reporting, that a real inventor with a legitimate claim for willful patent infringement was behind the case of Smartflash LLC v Apple Inc.
Many readers will be aware of the old adage "never let the truth get in the way of a good story" but in this case the real story and the facts are probably far more interesting than the myth being proffered by Apple.
Patent Troll... screamed the headlines around the world, after we soundly defeated Apple at trial, won a unanimous verdict for willful infringement and a Jury award for $532.9million.
Immediately following our decisive victory, Apple released the following misleading statement:
"Smartflash makes no products, has no employees, creates no jobs, has no US presence, and is exploiting our patent system to seek royalties for technology Apple invented. We refused to pay off this company for the ideas our employees spent years innovating and unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to take this fight up through the court system. We rely on the patent system to protect real innovation and this case is one more example of why we feel so strongly Congress should enact meaningful patent reform."
This Machiavellian statement should really have come as no surprise to me, as it mirrored Apple's conduct both leading up to and during the trial. To date I have said nothing and this blog post is my sole attempt to redress some of the disturbing imbalances in the reporting of this case.
The truth is that 16 years ago I had the foresight to invent something new and truly inventive that would play a leading part in changing the way we pay for and access content. The United States Patent and Trademark Office also believed this to be the case, which is why our patents were granted in the first place.
I filed the original patent application in 1999 when mobile phones made and received phone calls, sent and received text messages and had little or no data storage capability whatsoever other than a limited phone number memory.
My conviction and belief in the invention was so strong that I invested my entire personal wealth and millions of dollars from other investors to develop the technology. We had offices and employees in several countries, partnerships with major technology companies and licensing deals in place with companies such as Disney and Viacom.
Sadly, three years later and in the midst of our first product launch, our lead technology partner intentionally pulled the rug from under our feet and simultaneously claimed the technology as their own. The company I founded went into bankruptcy and having lost millions of dollars of my own money along with all of my remaining assets trying to save the business, I was left penniless and in debt.
The Senior Research and Development Director of the company in question left soon after to join Apple as their Senior Director Digital Rights Management and I was forced to sit on the sidelines watching Apple as they released the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, soaking up the praise for the technology they claimed to have invented in house. This despite the fact that the original patent application I filed was in 1999, two years before Steve Jobs announced the Ipod, 4 years before Apple launched the Music Store and eight years before they introduced the iPhone.
My first patent was granted in 2008, nine years after I filed the first application and one year after the iPhone was launched but it took several more years to secure the other patents and the vast amount of funding needed to take on a monolith like Apple - the largest company in the world.
Contrary to Apple's misleading press statement, it wasn't Apple's choice to fight this through the court system and it was in fact our decision to go to trial. Our sense of vindication and relief at proving wilful infringement in front of my family, who I had put at risk through my belief in the patent system and dedication to my idea, was however tainted by the media barrage that Apple instigated before the ink was even dry on the verdict form.
I guess I realised that the amount of advertising they pay for carries a lot of weight but nothing prepared me for the anonymous death threats and emailed abuse from the real trolls that are out there, including "The next candidate for an Isis execution in Iraq" or that my family "should be burnt at the stake" how about "you're worthless just die" supported by headlines in well known publications proclaiming me as an "eighth grade dropout patent troll." It is true I left school at an early age - interestingly so did Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell -but please don't execute me or burn my family at the stake for leaving school early and for being an inventor.
We do have a US presence and an office in Texas. According to some media reports it is a haven for patent trolls. This may well be the case but that isn't the reason we are based there or why so many other legitimate cases are fought there by some of the world's largest technology companies. We chose to go to trial in the Eastern District of Texas because their judges are highly experienced in patent law and the juries are fair. Incidentally the win rate for plaintiff's v defendants is now approximately 50% in EDTX.
With reference to the last line of Apple's release and false sense of injustice - I'm all for meaningful patent reform where its required but the America Invents Act that Apple fought for has already given them far more than that. It's the reason why we have been subjected to an ongoing torrent of reexamination proceedings from them.
The real story can be found in the trial transcripts and in the court docket, both of which are fully accessible to any journalist interested in discovering the truth - or you could just take Apple's word for it.
In the meantime and for those that are wondering, we haven't received a penny yet and we likely won't until all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.
Having now said my piece after being the subject of endless one-sided reporting, I will go back to maintaining a dignified silence, while we fight Apple's meritless and unjust CBM reexaminations, the inevitable appeal process, delays, abusive tactics and all the legal hurdles Apple can afford.
One thing I can guarantee is that I won't be lurking under a bridge anytime soon. Inventor? Yes. Patent troll? No - not under any reasonable or unreasonable interpretation!