Live-cam Patent Suit Needs Specificity, U.S. Judge Says

Apr 7, 2010 11:45 AM PST
MARSHALL, Texas — A federal judge has given a patent holding company that is suing some of the top names in the adult live-cam business a deadline of next week to narrow its infringement suit.

Joao Control and Monitoring Systems claims the companies are allegedly infringing on U.S. Patent No. 7,277,010 by making, using or selling video monitoring and communications apparatus and services that are defined by the patent.

But the federal jurist overseeing the case, U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis, said that the infringement case, which contains 264 claims, is "unmanageable" and that "some greater specificity is required here."

The infringement suit, filed in November, targets such blue-chip brands as Playboy Enterprises, Penthouse Media Group, LFP Internet Group, FriendFinder’s Steamray Inc., Vivid Entertainment, Playboy's ClubJenna unit, Anabolic Video Productions, Evil Angel Productions, New Destiny Internet Group, Shane Enterprises and Private Media Group’s GameLink. The suit also includes mainstream companies TrueBeginnings and Woo Media.

Many adult industry observers say that Joao's patent litigation threat is meek, but nevertheless the suit could be costly as attorneys fees mount defending what suits waged by what some call "patent trolls" — companies that don't appear to create or sell any products described in its patents.

So far, the defendants have asked the judge to dismiss Joao’s claims for inducing and contributory infringement because Joao does not plead the necessary legal elements. But the defendants don't expressly state that they are not moving to dismiss Joao’s claims for direct infringement.

Davis already has granted the defendants' partial motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and allowed Joao to amend its complaint by next week.

"The court has high expectations of a plaintiff’s preparedness before it brings suit," Davis said. "Thus, the court expects that Joao already has sufficient knowledge of facts that it can include in its complaint that would give defendants sufficient notice of Joao’s indirect infringement claims.

"The court strongly cautions Joao to narrow its case. The court will not lower its expectations of Joao’s disclosures because Joao has chosen to assert a large number of claims."

According to Joao's suit, the allegedly infringing websites include AnabolicLive.com, HomeGrownCams.com, VividLive.com, PlayboyLive.com, EvilAngelLive.com, GameLinkLive.com, SpiceLive.com, Penthouse.com, AdultFriendFinder.com, HustlerLive.com, True.com, ShanesWorldLive.com, WooMe.com and ClubJennaLive.com.

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