Cloudflare has scored a major victory against patent troll Sable, crippling their ability to sue anyone else.
Patent trolls are an unfortunate fact of life in the tech industry, with companies filing or purchasing broad patents they have no intention of developing, and then suing companies that produce products even remotely similar. Sable is one such company that had sued Cloudflare.
According to a blog post, Cloudflare won a major verdict against the troll, with a Texas jury ruling the company did not infringe Sable’s patents. What’s more, the jury invalidated Sable’s patent.
Last Thursday, on a clear, sunny morning in Waco, Texas, a jury returned a verdict after less than two hours of deliberation. The jury found that Cloudflare did not infringe the patent asserted against Cloudflare by patent trolls Sable IP and Sable Networks.
And while that would have been enough to decide the case by itself, the jury went further and found that Sable’s old and broadly-written patent claim was invalid and never should have been granted in the first place–meaning they can no longer assert the claim against anyone else. Since Sable first sued us, we’ve invalidated significant parts of three Sable patents, hamstringing their ability to bring lawsuits against other companies.
Cloudflare goes on to point out that many companies choose to settle with patent trolls to make the issue go away and minimize losses. Cloudflare, on the other hand, refused to back down and chose to fight.
The company utilized an ingenious way of fighting patent trolls, essentially crowdsourcing part of its defense. Establishing prior art is an important part of defending against a patent troll. If a company can prove that a technology was already known, established, or in use prior to a patent being filed, it can be used to invalidate that patent.
Cloudflare established Project Jengo in 2017 as a way to incentivize individuals to search for prior art, providing a bounty for those that that found examples.
Cloudflare’s victory against Sable is a win for the industry at large, and its use of Project Jengo could well serve as a template for other companies.