The technology world is no stranger to patent suits from companies dubbed “patent trolls” who simply buy up patents and offer no products using the intellectual property they claim to own. Another massive suit is brewing from a company sure to be labeled a patent troll by the name of TQP Development. The company is based in Marshall, Texas and the suits reference US patent number 5,412,730.
The patent is titled “Encrypted data transmission system employing means for randomly altering the encryption keys.” The company is targeting some major companies in the technology world, including Google, Intel, Yelp, and others. Ars Technica reports that court records show TQP has sued hundreds of companies since 2008, with at least 100 of that number coming in the last year.
The company bought a suit against Apple, which was dismissed after reaching a confidential settlement. There’s no mention of exactly which court has been hearing these cases, but I have some ideas. I speculate that considering Marshall, Texas is a small East Texas town, these cases are being heard in the Tyler, Texas court presided over by Judge Leonard Davis.
Davis is rather famous for siding with patent holders in technology cases. Last week, TQP filed a new suit against Intel, Wind River Systems, and Hertz Corporation over using the RC4 encryption cipher in combination with SSL or TLS protocols. Many technology companies are reportedly moving to the RC4 cipher because it’s immune to the recently unveiled attack allowing nefarious users to silently decrypt data passing between the web server and an end user browser when using other types of encryption.
“Their [TQP] business model is not to go to trial and potentially risk the validity of the patent for any one particular defendant,” Jim Denaro, a Washington, DC-based attorney for the CipherLaw Group, told Ars Technica. “The business model is based on the fact that the cost of defending a lawsuit and the risk of a large damages award as a result of being found to infringe a patent is so high that it’s worth paying a perhaps substantial sum of money in order to extricate yourself from that lawsuit. When you scale that up to hundreds of companies there’s quit a bit of money to be made.”