State of Vermont v. Alleged Patent Troll

The case is State v. MPHJ Technology Investments Corp. (Vt. Super. Ct. filed May 8, 2013); GigaOM reports:

In a complaint filed in Vermont’s Superior Court, the state accuses MPHJ Technology — which operates 40 shell companies through a UPS store in Delaware — of violating consumer protection law by demanding small businesses buy a license or face a patent lawsuit.

“Hopefully would-be patent trolls will see this and realize that if you want to prey on Vermont businesses large and small they’re going to have a fight on their hands,” Attorney General, William Sorrell, said by phone on Wednesday.

The patents in question date from the year 2001 and involve technology for scanning documents and attaching them to an email. Despite being around for more than a decade, no one tried to enforce the patents until 2012 when … [attorney] Jay Mac Rust began brandishing them.

The Vermont complaint explains that Mr. Rust and his friends have been sending letters to hundreds of businesses in Vermont, including non-profit groups that help the disabled, and telling them to pay $900-$1200 per employee or face a federal lawsuit….

Vermont’s lawsuit, which demands the troll pay $10,000 for each letter it sent out, is based on consumer protection laws that forbid deceitful communications….

Thanks to the Media Law Resource Center’s Media Law Daily for the pointer.