What Do Donald Trump and Patent Assertion Entities Have in Common?


New York Times lawyer David McCraw has become famous for penning the paper’s widely shared response to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s demand that it retract a critical story. Turns out McCraw tucked that task into a day that also involved devising a response to what he considers a patent lawsuit of dubious merit. 

Last Wednesday, Trump’s lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz sent a letter demanding that the Times retract an article containing allegations that Trump inappropriately touched two women. The letter said the story was libelous and a “politically-motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy.” 

The next day, McCraw responded  that the Times would not retract the story. He argued that a libel claim concerns the protection of reputation, and none of the accusations in the article “has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.” 

The letter went viral, and the Times followed up with a behind the scenes look. McCraw explained he wrote the letter on Thursday in about 45 minutes, just before a conference call about a new patent infringement lawsuit filed against the Times in Texas. 

“Is somebody really claiming to have invented a method for switching from watching one video to watching another?” he asks. 

McCraw doesn’t discuss the patent case in any more detail, but according to Bloomberg Law data, a company called Bartonfalls LLC sued the New York Times Company Oct. 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, asserting U.S. Patent No. 7,917,922 covering a “method of automatically changing from a first TV program to an alternate TV program at a TV viewer location.” 

Bartonfalls filed 14 lawsuits that day, asserting the patent against a wide variety of defendants, including NBCUniversal Media LLC, Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Viacom Inc. and Bloomberg BNA’s parent company, Bloomberg LP

At the time of this writing, the Times article on Trump is still available online. And the company has yet to answer in the Bartonfalls case.