updated 12:30 pm EST, Mon December 5, 2011
Garnet tries to profit from Apple, HTC, carriers
Largely unknown company Garnet Digital hoped to profit from the work of the US cellphone field with a lawsuit quietly filed late last week. It accuses those who make the OS, device makers who sell in the US, and most major US carriers and distributors of violating one patent for a generic "Interactive Terminal For The Access Of Remote Database Information." Among those named are Apple, Google, and RIM, pure hardware makers like HTC, LG, and Samsung, stores like Radio Shack, as well as carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
The lawsuit insists that virtually every smartphone currently on sale in the US violates the patents and that, by extension, the OS developers and carriers equally responsible. Its patent could potentially be called into question as it was granted in 1995, significantly after remote database access became an option.
Garnet's claims are generic and make no mention of trying to reach a licensing deal with any of the companies before turning to the court. The complaint is also riddled with errors, including making claims that HTC violates the patents through the "Desire EVO HD7" and mentioning only "Google Nexus" phones without identifying the model.
As expected, the plaintiff is hinging its case on royalties under the threat of a permanent ban.
The case fits the traditional definition of a patent troll lawsuit. No mention of Garnet Digital exists online outside of its lawsuits, suggesting that it has no meaningful products and exists solely to profit from royalties and lawsuit settlements. A choice to file in an Eastern District of Texas court in Tyler is also common, since the court is known to be biased in favor of plaintiffs in these cases and can take advantage of the state's Long Arm Statute to sue anyone who does business in Texas, even if they have no local legal staff.