We’re going to have to work on our categories, I see. This one is a mess about profiteering, lawyers who serve greed rather than justice, and an astonishingly selfish view of a pandemic as an opportunity to exploit everyone. Patent trolls are trying to block companies that make COVID-19 diagnostic tests.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to begin this story or how to fit all the insanity into the title. It’s a story involving patents, patent trolling, Covid-19, Theranos, and even the company that brought us all WeWork: SoftBank. Oh, and also Irell & Manella, the same law firm that once claimed it could represent a monkey in a copyright infringement dispute. You see, Irell & Manella has now filed one of the most utterly bullshit patent infringement lawsuits you’ll ever see. They are representing “Labrador Diagnostics LLC” a patent troll which does not seem to exist other than to file this lawsuit, and which claims to hold the rights to two patents (US Patents 8,283,155 and 10,533,994) which, you’ll note, were originally granted to Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos — the firm that shut down in scandal over medical testing equipment that appears to have been oversold and never actually worked. Holmes is still facing federal charges of wire fraud over the whole Theranos debacle.
However, back in 2018, the remains of Theranos sold its patents to Fortress Investment Group. Fortress Investment Group is a SoftBank-funded massive patent troll. You may remember the name from the time last fall when Apple and Intel sued the firm, laying out how Fortress is a sort of uber-patent troll, gathering up a bunch of patents and then shaking down basically everyone. Lovely, right?
So, this SoftBank-owned patent troll, Fortress, bought up Theranos patents, and then set up this shell company, “Labrador Diagnostics,” which decided that right in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic it was going to sue one of the companies making Covid-19 tests, saying that its test violates those Theranos patents, and literally demanding that the court bar the firm from making those Covid-19 tests.
This is shaking up my perspective — I thought conservatives were the apotheosis of evil and Satan incarnate, but these guys seem even worse. Irell & Manella are American lawyers based in Los Angeles, so the only hope for my equanimity is that they’re also Republicans.