Convicted patent troll Prenda was in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Monday to appeal sanctions leveled against it two years ago for abusive legal practices that amounted to extortion. It was not a pretty day for the company.
The hearing was live-streamed by the court, enabling those who were unable to get to the courtroom, a chance to view the proceedings. The feed did not disappoint. After the first half hour Prenda's lawyer left the courtroom battered by a series of barbs and jabs thrown by the judges.
Prenda's argument was that because they threatened hard working Americans with jail time unless they paid large sums of money for supposed copyright infringement, the entirety of the hearing, and thus the sanctions awarded at the end of it, were improper. The logic of the argument, as can be seen, is bizarre.
The company also made the decision to “plead the 5th” which is allowed in civil cases, but not criminal ones, and adversely effected the perception of the court.
Meanwhile the company failed to contest any of the factual elements and conclusions from the case and initial verdict, relying wholly on procedural grounds.
As can be expected, when you threaten hard working Americans under fraudulent pretenses and then fail to defend your actions in court things do not go too well for you.
The three judges – 91yo Senior Judge Harry Pregerson, 62yo Judge Richard Tallman, and 49yo Jacqueline Nguyen – were both sharp and to the point with Prends, repeatedly asking probing questions, and even making fun of their lawyer on occasion.
“Explain to me in simple english how this er operation worked” asked Pregerson, adding “how they make their money” when asked to clarify shortly followed by “who ran this operation?“.
Prenda’s answer of “I don’t know” prompted Pregerson to retort “You don’t know anything, do you?“.
When Prenda's lawyer tried to salvage that by referring to the 5th amendment pleading, Pregerson delivered one final blow saying “They should have asserted the 5th amendment because they were engaged in extortion, eh? They sent out thousands of extortionate letters“.
Perhaps the highlight of it all though, was the 7½ minutes spent by judge Pregerson describing how these cases work, including reading a letter that was sent (embedded below). His closing remark on it left no doubt what he was thinking, saying “That is just an ingenious, crooked, extortionate operation”.
The judge's predictably ruled in favor of the previous verdict and sanctions against the unscrupulous patent troll. The move marked a rare point of sanity in America's confusing and unfair intellectual property framework which favors the rights of big corporations over those of everyday Americans.