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04 June 2013

Apple discovers own lawyer behind patent 'troll' lawsuit

Court documents have revealed that US tech giant Apple is being sued by a company partly owned by a lawyer who until recently worked at one of its go-to law firms, Philadelphia-founded Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

By James Barnes

Apple: patent 'troll' attack

The lawsuit, filed just over a year ago, was thought to be a typical ‘patent troll’ claim against a tech company, reports Ars Technica.

Patent attack

The company which filed the suit, FlatWorld, is partly owned by the named inventor on the patents, a Philadelphia design professor named Slavko Milekic. However, the documents also show that 35 per cent of the company is controlled by lawyer John McAleese.
According to the report, e-mails between Mr McAleese and his wife show the two had planned a broad patent attack against Californian company Apple and its touch screen products from as early as January 2007.
Jennifer McAleese allegedly contacted various ‘troll patent’ companies, convinced that she and Mr Milekic had an ‘excellent position against Apple’ if and when they chose to sue.

'Covert pipeline'

Apple claims that the McAleeses created ‘an indirect and covert pipeline’ of information to make available to FlatWorld's lawyers, Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro. Apple has demanded the firm be removed from the case.
Mr McAleese appears to have now left the firm, with his bio page removed from the website last week and his direct phone line revealing an automated message stating he is no longer with the firm.
Ars Technica contacted Ms McAleese, but she declined to comment.
Mr McAleese and FlatWorld have until 11 June to respond to Apple’s claims, with the issue set to be argued in court in July.

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