Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Government The Courts Technology News

Tech Companies Swimming In Lawsuits 147

conq writes "A new survey shows that the tech industry places third after healthcare and energy companies in the number of lawsuits it deals with. It states that an average tech company faces 42 lawsuits currently, more than the insurance industry!" From the article: "An average U.S. technology company currently faces 42 lawsuits vs. 37 lawsuit for an average company. The tech industry places third, after healthcare and energy companies, in the number of lawsuits it deals with ... Needless to say, that's quite expensive. Nearly a third of these companies spend more than 2% of their gross revenue on legal expenses, according to one of the largest surveys of corporate counsel in America."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tech Companies Swimming In Lawsuits

Comments Filter:
  • by seanadams.com ( 463190 ) * on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:24PM (#13849089) Homepage
    Lies, damned, lies, and...


    The firm asked 354 companies in various industries about their top legal concerns.


    Which 354 did you ask? There are thousands of tech companies! Define "tech company". Or is this just the 354 you could think of who'd pick up the phone?


    That probably has something to do with tech companies having by far the greatest number of in-house attorneys managing litigation - an average of nine per company.


    Nine lawyers per tech company - w0w! That's amazing considering that the overwhelming majority of tech companies that I can think of don't even have nine employees. Do you have any idea how many startups there are in California alone? Do six PHDs in a small lab working on, say, the next medical laser breakthrough not count?


    Nearly a third of these companies spend more than 2% of their gross revenue on legal expenses


    Which companies? What about the other two thirds? Are we supposed to think that 2% is a lot to spend on total legal expenses? What's the distribution?


    Olga, your numbers are a crock of shit, and they stinketh. If you're going to give us stats, try starting with something like "of the 100 highest-grossing telecom service companies".

    • Most likely: "tech company" == "listed on NASDAQ"
    • Damned statistics. Microsoft has a whole legal department. I'm certain that other major tech companies have the same. Once you average that over the whole, you get 9 lawyers per company.

      The point here isn't that the average is higher than one would expect, it's that the standard of deviation is so wide that the statistical information applied for the average is useless except as a "market gauge".
      • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:13PM (#13849449) Homepage
        Yeah, Average is a really bad number in this case. If microsoft has 17000 laywers, and 999 companies have 0 lawyers, then the average is 17 lawyers per company. on the other hand, only 0.1% of companies have any lawyers at all. A better number would be the median for the number of lawyers, or the number of lawyers per capita (other employees).
        • by Krach42 ( 227798 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:03PM (#13850047) Homepage Journal
          Well, statistically, the better choice would be to give the average and the standard of deviation.

          Giving the median would be a bad idea, as in your example, the median is 0. But we know darn well that we shouldn't report that sort of information, it's perhaps even more misleading and alarming than 17 per company.

          Reporting that the average is 17, but that the standard deviation is 537.033803405335 (an extremely highly high value) would work in the sense that it would be accurate, but wouldn't work in the case that most people wouldn't know or understand what the hell that meant.
    • by d34thm0nk3y ( 653414 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:46PM (#13849291)
      I agree completely, but just because their statistics suck does not mean it is false. Intuitively it seems it would be true, but whatever...

      Anyway, my main point is a question. I understand why in traditional media you would not want to take the space for indepth analysis of the actual numbers (preferably alongside the numbers themselves). Why the hell though, on the web where extra information means adding a line under a word, do they refuse to ever show the actual numbers? Is it really just laziness? It seems like it would be so easy....
      • Because the rank and file population would rather watch the latest interview with the cousin of a close friend's nephew of a neighbor that once met the Aruba girl sometime back in the early 90's. You think Joe and Jane Sixpack will not change the channel to the latest reality TV craze if an in depth analysis of legal statistics is on?

        Hello, folks!?!? This is what you get when you watch news for entertainment and ego massaging value. ...when you demand that the news only report things that don't conflict w

        • wooosh, right over your head.

          Reread the grandparent please.
          • Bah, it's been a long day.

            But, the basic premise still stands.

            1. Private Corporation: Why should they sink tons of money into in depth studies for less profit when they can rake it in with cheap "reporting" of shiney object stories and adlibed press releases.

            2. The Bigots: There are some people that think facts are biased, items of evidence are forgeries, and will lash out at any media that does not conform to their own personal views. So, naturally, a media company will shy away from stories. And, wh
      • Intuitively it seems it would be true,

        that's because you don't hear about the average company, you hear about big ones. the aformentioned 9 PhD, no lawyers, one project companies would likely fall appart if they had anywhere near this "average" number of lawsuits to deal with. and there are a lot of companies like that.

        again, the ones that are high enough profile to frequently make the news tend to get a number of lawsuits just because they are well known enough and are taking on enough projects that so

    • Plus, they don't define what they mean by "average". When they say "the average company", that would most accurately be represented by the median, halfway in rank in distribution of the lawsuits across all of the (meager) 342 companies. But medians are usually further detailed to indicate what it's like at the top or bottom, or how big is the middle. So they're probably talking about "arithmetic mean", the statistically vague division of the total lawsuits by those sued. Which means one company with thousan
    • This questions reminds me a nice quote:
      The 50% of the people are less intelligent than the average person.
    • Personally, I would like to know the percentages of which are personal lawsuits, class action lawsuits, government lawsuits, and company v. company lawsuits as well as actual expenses (not just awards).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Nine lawyers per tech company - w0w! That's amazing considering that the overwhelming majority of tech companies that I can think of don't even have nine employees. Do you have any idea how many startups there are in California alone? Do six PHDs in a small lab working on, say, the next medical laser breakthrough not count?

      Do you really think that lawyers would sue small startup companies at the same rate as large, rich ones?
    • "Tech Companies Swimming in Lawsuits!!!"

      turns out to be a survey taken by Fulbright & Jaworski Lawfirm. [businesswire.com]

      I bet they just felt horrible when they figured this out. "Time to stop litigating, we've become TOO successful."

      The fact that it was written by a bunch of lawers explains why Olga [businessweek.com] had such a hard time blogging it.

      The fact that her blog made it into slashdot is still a mystery.

    • Nearly a third of these companies spend more than 2% of their gross revenue on legal expenses

      Which companies? What about the other two thirds? Are we supposed to think that 2% is a lot to spend on total legal expenses? What's the distribution?

      I imagine that whatever the number, it's probably pretty huge. I recently met someone who was just entering law school in Ontario (Canada) this fall, and through her, I found out that apparently "Intellectual Property" law is the big money-maker for lawyers right

  • Frivolous patents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:25PM (#13849094) Homepage Journal
    It was explained to me this way when I was researching the cost of medicine in New Zealand versus the USA. "Look mate, we got rid of all the lawyers in the system and can actually afford to provide healthcare to every single one of our citizens as well as many visitors to our country". Perhaps that is a little simplistic, but there is an element of truth to that. I've written [utah.edu] before on the number of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bentlys and Maybachs! that I've seen in Sarasota, Florida. Apparently, a good number of the class action lawyers for the tobacco settlements live there and in fact, there was one law firm out on the key where I was staying that routinely had the most amazing high dollar automobiles out there. (Ever seen a Mclaren on the street?) That money comes from somewhere.

    The reasons for high number of suits in healthcare are somewhat different that that for tech companies lawsuits, which are more dependent upon a broken patent system which allows frivolous patents.

    • t was explained to me this way when I was researching the cost of medicine in New Zealand versus the USA. "Look mate, we got rid of all the lawyers in the system and can actually afford to provide healthcare to every single one of our citizens as well as many visitors to our country". Perhaps that is a little simplistic, but there is an element of truth to that.

      It's called the Lawyer Tax. Attorneys get their cut of everything, good or bad, for seeing to it that you're protected against greedy, unethical

      • by Anonymous Coward
        It's called the Lawyer Tax. Attorneys get their cut of everything, good or bad, for seeing to it that you're protected against greedy, unethical people...

        Would that be the ultimate protection racket then?

        • Re:It's called... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *
          Would that be the ultimate protection racket then?

          I've heard several comments to that effect, over the years.

          Certainly does make you wonder how we got from the US Constitution to some of the crap people used it for today.

    • on the topic of interesting data points, australia has more lawyers per capita than any other country in the world, including america. dont know if they have the highest per capita lawsuits though.
      • NZ isn't AU.
        • In Europe we probably have equally many laywers as AUZ but, the distribution of wealth among laywers is more vertical, many do not live by doing lawsuits but other legal stuff. Also this gold rush mentality does not work really out here (some try from time to time, patents and a broken trademark system in germany enforce it) there is no high profile lawsuite where a laywer an suck millions out of someone. Laywers can make good money, the average does not earm much more or less than the average techie. And y
    • I agree the patent system is broken, but I also think that a system needs to be there. IMHO The biggest flaws with the American patent system are:
      1. It doesn't have enough manpower to do what it's being asked to do
      2. It has quotas
      3. It doesn't have the money to expand

      An idea on how to fix this would be make all pending patents public. They are clocked on submission, and the public is allowed to point to prior art and post thoughts on the obviousness of the patent. By the time some Einstein gets arou
      • by thebdj ( 768618 )
        1. It doesn't have enough manpower to do what it's being asked to do
        2. It has quotas
        3. It doesn't have the money to expand


        1. This comes down to money, see your #3.
        2. This comes down to the huge number of patent applications and in particular large number of "continuations" something the Director has said he'd like to see cut down. Approximately 1/3 of all patents last year were continuations. This means 1/3 of the work is "re-work".
        3. This is the fault of congress, who only release more of the mone
  • Where users will get together a class action lawsuit for their ipods being too scratchy.
    • Well it's better than facing them all one at a time.

      If I were apple, I'd give them a $10 credit on the newly released Apple branded iPod nano carrying case, and a complementary download of Stevie Wonder's "My Eyes Don't Cry".
    • by jcr ( 53032 )
      More like, some lawyers see an opportunity to beat Apple up for a settlement, so they find one user to be the named plaintiff, and go down the courthouse to get the class registered. Once they get that far, it's generally cheaper to pay them off (a million for the lawyers, and $20-off coupons for everyone else) than it is to litigate.

      There's also a very brisk business of suing the officers of any company whose stock falls, as if they're supposed to be able to control the stock market.

      -jcr
      • There's also a very brisk business of suing the officers of any company whose stock falls
         
        Now that's just begging for more stock fraud. When the penalties for falling stock prices are too great, naturally there will be more fraud to prop them up. But hey, I guess the lawyers benefit from fraud too. I think I chose the wrong profession :)
    • Why should there be a lawsuit? Is it Apple's fault you didn't spend the 10 seconds to read an online review of their product before religiously going to the Apple store and buy it?

      There are still many competing MP3 players out there, you didn't have to buy the Nano.
      • No, and I didn't. I have a Zen Touch and I love it. but that's not the point. do you think reviews get written before someone buys a crappy product? It's not Apple's fault if you do something stupid like that, but it is reasonable for someone to expect that a product will work for a decent amount of time. if the screen scratches so much you can't see it, then an important feature has quckly broken, and I would consider it a defective product. again, I agree that people should think before they spend that ki
        • The other issue is that if it blemishes too easily, why sue the company, why not just return it for your money back. If it's such a fault then a store person would gladly refund your money.

          This screen scratching issue (unlike the screen cracking issue.) Is just a bunch of legal profiteering, they are suing apple and don't want just their money back, but they also want a cut of ipod sales. Yes you read right, they are asking for more money in return for having a screen that blemishes too easily. (Despite it

  • by Trigun ( 685027 ) <{xc.hta.eripmelive} {ta} {live}> on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:27PM (#13849114)
    I think that there's a much larger problem then tech companies facing 42.
    • I hate to reply to my own post, but look what the top poll choice is on the Slashpoll.
      I read EULAs:
      with my lawyer
      with deep suspicion and paranoia
      with due care and attention
      with my scroll wheel
      with CowboyNeal
      I Agree

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:27PM (#13849118)
    NOW! we know the question!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    My favorite tech company lawsuit being the CEO of Savvis [thesmokinggun.com], from which I was laid off from. This news made my Friday. Jerk.
    • My favorite tech company lawsuit being the CEO of Savvis, from which I was laid off from. This news made my Friday. Jerk.

      Reminds me of the traveller who didn't pay attention to the numbers on the bill he signed for martinis in Germany about 20 years go. $10,000 each.

      bottoms up!

    • Standard Soho Clip Joint Scam [melonfarmers.co.uk]
    • "Restauranteur" saw a high profile exec and thought he could charge 6-figures for "services" at his strip club, and the exec would be too afraid for his reputation to pay. The implication is that more than exotic dancing went on.
  • How many lawsuits does a tech company face?

    --
    Get free domains here [ezyrewards.com]
  • by Bin_jammin ( 684517 ) <Binjammin@gmail.com> on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:34PM (#13849203)
    more software patents. That will solve almost all legal woes with clear cut lines of IP ownership.
  • With the energy company, it's them you sue when you disconnected the gas stove youself, instead of calling them and your house blows up as a result. With tech companies, it's nothing new, Borroughs used to get sued all the time for misrepresenting their products.
    • My energy company won't even take money to fix problems caused by THEIR equipment on my property. Even if me working on the problem could cause a gas line break on an entire street, they refused to do the work to fix a gas leak because it was on my side of their valve and the valve needed replaced because it was unworkable and they wouldn't even do that.
      • Sad to say, in today's utilities market, the only cure for that attitude is an explosion, a bunch of your street's residents killed, and a mondo wrongful-death suit.

        Crap, we're already back to lawsuits!!

  • Other Story (Score:3, Informative)

    by xanthines-R-yummy ( 635710 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:35PM (#13849210) Homepage Journal
    Instead of a blog, how about a news story?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9645594/ [msn.com]

    Yes, I do realize the source is from M$NBC...

  • by Argonne ( 913222 ) * on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:39PM (#13849245) Journal
    She sued a tech firm after she spilled GTA "Hot Coffee" in her laptop.
  • I'm dropping out of my Computer Engineering major and going to law school.
  • We round up every laywer on the planet & stick them on an island with nothing but the clothes on their back & a hastily written & very outdated constitution. Then we film it.

    We not only do we get rid of our growing legal problem we also get a nifty reality TV we can watch with all our new found free time not spent in court or legal offices.
  • Question (Score:4, Funny)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `todhsals.nnamredyps'> on Friday October 21, 2005 @07:49PM (#13849316) Homepage Journal
    How many of these lawsuits involve "Intellectual Property" (copyright / RIAA subpoenas / patents),spamming or spyware?

    Just curious.
    • Probably not that many, since according to these crappy numbers, tech companies deal with 42 compared to the overall average of 37. Probably around 5 of those types of suits. I can do that kind of math in my head.
  • average vs. mean (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0WaitState ( 231806 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:05PM (#13849408)
    Um, is this Microsoft plus 350 other companies averaging 42 lawsuits apiece? Kind of like the average net worth of the people in a bar going to one billion dollars when Bill Gates walks in?
  • by argoff ( 142580 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:08PM (#13849424)
    The problem is that society is entering the information age, but society has two models of what kind of age that should be. In one model, all information must be controlled like "intellectual ptoperty" and leveraged for unlimited growth and profit. In the other, all information should flow without restrictions, and money should be made from collaberation, services, customisation, and general things that use information to create value.

    These are inherently and fundamentally incompatable. An anti-thesis to each other, and while you can't contoroll information with force - you can certainly attempt to bully, threaten, decieve, and sue - and this is exactly what is happening.

    So the suits that are happening now, I'm sure are just barely scratching the surface - as companies on the "intellectual property" side start to loose real money, and real market share, and loose out technology wise to the "freedom is free markets" side. You can be sure they will almost certainly freak, and "pull a SCO" across every industry and every sector.

    Also, as a note, a parrallel situation is also happening in the financial markets where industries and government are trying to controll and manipulate information on value and money for unlmited growth and profit too. This is about to explode as well.

    So watch out, and go offshore if you can, becasue all freakin hell is about to break loose.
  • is 2% swimming (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:19PM (#13849482) Homepage Journal
    I don't know if 2% of revenue is swimming. I think about 2% of my revenue. On a weekly basis, it is pocket money. It is enough that I would miss it, but still within a tolerable "cost of doing bidness".

    And what else might be done with 2%. An small increase in R&D. Perhaps retail prices would magically decrease 2%. Or drug abuse might marginally increase.

    If software companies at a number 3, I think this shows how the entire lawsuit thing has been overblow, and how most of the players are two faced. Even the republican party owes the ambulance chasers. It was they that got all the cig money for texas, which allowed Bush to balance the texas budget while cutting taxes, and helped him get elected to the big house. of course he thanked these lawyer by suing them for excessive billing, even though the billing had been agreed to, and they developed these cases with thier own money in the true spirit of entrepenurism, unlike other people we could mention.

    The other issue is how many of these are squabbled over IP, and how many are individual get rich quick schemes. I also have no sympathy for the drug companies. Roche is about to make a killing on Tamiflu, probably several billion in the next few years, much of it direct profit from licensing. Will they have to set some of it aside for lawsuit resulting from charges of gauging and the like. Probably. But if they would sell it to certain countries at cut rate, and deduct the good will, they might be able to save the lawyer fees. But they apparently have made the choice.

  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:21PM (#13849490) Homepage Journal
    A few points in loose conjecture.

    My ex wife is a very successful barrister. She's a brilliant, talented woman. Through her I came to know the various subcultures of the legal world. One of the recurring analogies among the lawyers I've known is that they are hired guns. They are the new warrior class.

    During WWII a combat soldier, I can't recall his name or rank, noted that among his comrades only a few (~15%) actively engaged in combat and were responsible for most of the damage done to the enemy. Recently on the Discovery channel a U.S. Army Lt.Col. was shown trying to instill a 'killer instinct' in his troops. The show referred to the earlier WWII report that only a few combat soldiers did the actual wounding/killing. The Lt. Col. on the Discovery show said it was like having 85% of librarians illiterate.

    Following WWII tribes in New Gunea were introduced to rugby. The tribes took to wearing war gear to the rugby games and rugby substituted for tribal warfare.

    Remember the TOS episode where warfare had become virtual and those areas marked as 'hit' had to have it's citizenry report for euthanasia. In real combat losses are not that great in terms of the overall number of combatants. It may be because only a limited number of people are able and willing to kill or be killed. In a world overpopulated with 6 billion the amount of homicidal acts are not that great.

    Now with money substitutable for anything, the inclination to combat among individuals and corporate tribes, can be translated into litigation. The amount of litigation might be an index to our willingness to 'kill' oneanother, the more so when money substitutes for one's own blood.

    Lawyers are the new esquired warriors. What a horse and armour were to knights and warring lords, a law degree is to the corporate world.

    The question arises if, in an evolutionary context, the litiguous 'mortal/capital' combat effects a beneficial path.

    One of my favourite authors G. Bateson spoke to... "adversarial systems are notoriously subject to irrelevant determinism. The relative 'strength' of the adversaries is likely to rule the decision regardless of the relative strength of their arguments."

    • by cbdavis ( 114685 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @09:30PM (#13849890)
      A quote from a Roman general, Heraclitis, over 2000 years ago, about
      warfare and his troops:

          "Of every 100 soldiers, 10 do not belong there and should be sent home. 80 are just targets. Nine are the true warriors, and we are glad to have them, for they make the battle. But one, he is the leader, and he brings the rest home."

    • Where's my bloody mod points when I need them...?
    • Only peripherally relevant to the topic. And you meander a bit and bring in several points that aren't strongly related to one another. But overall the most interesting and insightful set of ideas I've read on this whole thread. You deserve a +6. :-)

    • Great, all we need is to get the 15% of killer soldiers to do combat with 85% of the lawyers.
    • So, what you're saying is that if Microsoft, Sun, etc didn't have lawyers, they'd be engaged in actual armed combat with each other?
      • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Saturday October 22, 2005 @02:26AM (#13850990) Homepage Journal
        what you're saying is that if Microsoft, Sun, etc didn't have lawyers, they'd be engaged in actual armed combat with each other?

        Hi, my post was prefaced as loose conjecture. The post amounts to a few points taken from a notebook given over to a study I hope, time permitting, to undertake.

        The general course of the notes goes to the relationship between war and trade, and, further, ritualized war/contest. Loosely, in answer to your question, if commerce incorporates the territorial imperative and equally primitive drives sublimated from open warfare, then, in my terms, commerce is war and the handmaiden to evolutionary drive.

        Example, the historian Fernand Braudel [wikipedia.org] notes in one of his work that the term robber baron, now used to refer to a 19th century captain of industry, originally refered to robbers who seized by force strategic mountain passes in the Alps between the mediterranean and northwestern europe. Robbers, once in control of a pass, built castles and imposed an arbitrary tariff on traders taking goods to and fro. Wealth garnered by force perhaps led them to see themselves as Barons. It's not a stretch to see commerce as contest, and to see contest as an abstraction of war.

        Britan from, more or less, the time of Drake profitted from piracy, and, the British Empire, at it's zenith, was enforced by 'gunboat diplomacy' and the machine gun. Yet, in part, the object of Empire building was increased trade and access to raw/rare materials.

        As I posted, only ~15% of combatants are effective. It's further interesting to note among feral rutting males mortal wounds are rare. Usually a show of force is sufficient for the combatants to size oneanother up and break off with the weaker male giving way. (As an aside OTOH try taking the young of a feral, predatory mother.) I'm suggesting our genetic makeup might have given us pause to find something like trade as preferable to war, but to carry with it the impetus, strategy and tactics of war.

        I simply hold that where commerce and war become intermingled by implementing convention, protocol, law and litigation, there, lawyers are the new warrior class.

        Even law has violent beginnings. Trial by Ordeal [wikipedia.org] was as brutal as Hammurabi's law of an eye for an eye. And even though we've managed to reach protocols of goverance like Robert's Rules of Order [robertsrules.org], it's instructive to remember that the rows of seats separating the governing party from the opposition in Britan and Canada are two and one half sword lenghts apart.

        Lastly, (aren't you sorry you asked :)) I'm interested in knowing if ritualized combat in the form of litigation promotes more reckless and predatory attitudes than would mortal combat.

        cheers

  • There are some folks out there who just can't stand to see others succeed where they fail. So, they find a reason to sue successful companies. Why work hard and take risks when you can just latch on and leach off those do take risks and work hard?
    • Sometimes it's about greed coupled with low ethics. Same motive as most other kinds of extortion. And occasionally, it's about fair compensation and/or punishment for a legitimate wrong. But outside of laissez-faire fantasy-land, it's rarely about envy.

      "They're just jealous because they're not as successful as us" is, more often than not, a dodge used by those who find themselves facing legitimate criticism and/or charges.

      If it was really about envy, IBM and Google would be as much despised as Microso
  • I wouldn't doubt it (Score:4, Informative)

    by cthulhuology ( 746986 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:37PM (#13849590) Homepage
    Just on the personal level, I'm involved in a small startup venture. We have three people working here, 2 developers, 1 lawyer, and we also retain an outside counsel as well. We're not facing any lawsuits, and hopefully will never face one. When doing contract work, I'd say we spend more of our time dealing with the client's legal department than with the actual technical specification. Its utterly disgusting.
    • I beg to differ. Without lawyers the big companies would never deal with the small ones -- they would just steal your work, or do without it. The law allows you to protect your work enough to contract for some value in exchange for it, and allows the big fish to protect themselves from risk.

      There are certainly big costs to our system of law, but when you look around the world, you will probably come to the conclusion that those costs are greatly outweighed by the transactions that we are able to accomplis
      • This is spoken like a true lawyer. I do like the "rule of law", but even the most corrupt politician can clearly see that the legal system is in dire need of reform. It doesn't have to be like this, where every little petty detail has to be examined and umpired into oblivion for every action.

        Most lawyers that I have ever the unpleasant opportunity to deal with (other than through social connections completely unrealted to the legal profession) were usually such horrible jackasses (that is the kind polite
        • I hope when you say 'spoken like a true lawyer,' you don't mean one of the ones you want to shoot... I have not met the sorts of lawyers you describe, but if I had, I'm sure I'd have the same or an even worse reaction.

          The fact is that poor behavior has been too often tolerated in the legal profession, and bars should be much tougher about cleaning up their image by throwing out the bad apples. Only then will the common perception of the profession begin to improve again.

          There are sanctions, but as you say
  • My experience (Score:5, Informative)

    by tjic ( 530860 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:46PM (#13849635) Homepage
    I have no problem believing this.

    I run Technical Video Rental [technicalvideorental.com], and I've had - literally - dozens of legal threats over the simple fact that I buy DVDs, then rent them out. Despite the fact that this is deeply settled [wikipedia.org] case law, I've gotten everything from a legal cease-and-desist from one firm's CEO (who has a degree from Harvard Law School and was formerly Chief Counsel of the United States Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources) to a threat to - ahem - anally rape me (from a guy who think's he's anonymous, because he doesn't know what website logs and IP addrs are).

    I spend about $2,000 - $3,000 per month on attorney fees trying to explain to people what the First Sale Doctrine is.

    This is money that could be spent growing the business, and delivering more interesting videos to my customers...but it gets squandered because so many folks (a) don't understand what the copyright law says; (b) don't understand that exposure increases sales (see also: MP3s and the RIAA).

    Bah.

    It'd be nice to spend more time doing business, instead of doing meta-business (lawsuits).
    • I run Technical Video Rental, and I've had - literally - dozens of legal threats over the simple fact that I buy DVDs, then rent them out. Despite the fact that this is deeply settled case law

      Not only is it deeply settled case law, but haven't these lawyers ever been to a video store? I really want to know how anyone, anywhere, could actually even think they could win that lawsuit?
    • Re:My experience (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I spend about $2,000 - $3,000 per month on attorney fees trying to explain to people what the First Sale Doctrine is.

      Why do you bother? Wait for them to actually sue, then countersue. You can get damages for filing frivolous and vexatious lawsuits.
    • I spend about $2,000 - $3,000 per month on attorney fees trying to explain to people what the First Sale Doctrine is.

      I find it interesting that our legal system has no filter for lawsuits that cannot win on their face, that is, even if all of the alligations were absolutely 100% true, the plaintiff wouldn't recieve anything. Those should be thrown out and the lawyer disciplened without the defendant even hearing about it (or perhaps a notification after the fact). Likewise, sending various demand or C

      • There is a legal term for that... it is called barrity, and it is illegal as well. The problem with trying to enforce this common law idea:

        Another lawsuit

        It is a neat game that lawyers have got themselves into, divirting money and resources from useful and productive activities.

        Or like the classic legal saying: One attorney will go broke in town. Two will both become rich to no end.
        • There is a legal term for that... it is called barrity, and it is illegal as well. The problem with trying to enforce this common law idea:

          That's exactly the problem. The proper time to deal with barritry is before the defendant even gets involved. In other words, it should be a carefully enforced criminal matter. If a totally baseless C&D letter could be forwarded to the DA for prosecution there would be a LOT less of them.

  • 42! (Score:4, Funny)

    by MarcoPon ( 689115 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:47PM (#13849647) Homepage
    Not 41, or 43.
    42!

    When a number say it all. Lawsuits are the final answer!

  • ... about holding software manufacturers liable for security problems.
  • by rune2 ( 547599 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @08:58PM (#13849705) Homepage
    This is one area where SCO is waaayy ahead of the average... pffft only 42 lawsuits...
  • by spookytoes ( 924762 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @09:08PM (#13849760)
    Tripe. Compare with countries where court costs for frivolous litigation are routinely awarded to the defendant. Such awards are rare in the U.S., which I believe is one of the main reasons lawsuits are such a popular business model in the U.S. (plus, of course, the astronomical damages still being awarded).

    In most jurisdictions (e.g. Canada), it's fairly common that the defendant is awarded legal costs. The instigators of frivolous or exploratory civil suits have to reimburse those they attacked for lawyer and court costs, on top of any damages.
    • I think this is supposed to be true in the US, that the plaintiff in frivolous suits must reimburse the defendant, much like it is also true that prior art should prevent you from obtaining and prosecuting a patent.

      Face it, gentlemen, the rule of law is long dead in the US, the ship is sinking, and the rats are gorging themselves before jumping ship.
  • Lawyers and the lawyer's IT geek.

    i mean - there's not going to be anything else to do by that time. If you're not getting sued, the only way to make money will be to sue someone else.
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:23PM (#13850125)

    More like sinking in lawsuits, maybe. When innovation is replaced with litigation, What other eventual outcome is to be expected?

  • I purely put the blame on microsoft - they started this whole protecting your ip patent extortion scheme to fight linux.

    you never heard the word IP before microsoft started using it in their defense against linux.

    that is their only defense too - they can't write better software - so just sue them.
  • Back in the 90's the law firm of Bill Lerach - Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach sued so many (mostly tecb) companies that his name became a verb. Miss your quarterly earnings, miss a product deadline, and you could count on two things - a stock price drop, and a 'shareholder' class-action suit from Bill Lerach.

    Law suits against tech companies were so prevalent in the 90's, that Neal Stephenson made it part of a sub-plot in his brilliant novel 'Cryptonomicon'.
  • the question to the answer 42 is: How many lawsuites does an average tech company face around the year 2005?
  • What the article fails to mention is that most of these lawsuits are business to business. One of the huge fallacies of the tort reform movement is that most lawsuits come from individuals. It is simply not the case. Most lawsuits against a company are from another company. Most companies have more contacts with other businesses than with individuals. A consumer isn't going to sue your company over the $20 that you screwed him out of. However, another business will sue your ass if you fail to take del

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

Working...