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Life isn't so good when you've got a patent troll on your back, Fort Point clothing company says

Life Is Good, the Melcher Street purveyor of optimistic T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, today sued a company that claims to have a patent on the way clothing companies sell their wares online, saying the company needs to stop badgering it about patented techniques Life is Good says it isn't using on its Web site.

In its suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, Life is Good and its San Francisco technology partner, Constructor.io, seek a jury trial at which they hope to prove their case that Hitel Technologies, allegedly of Plano, TX, needs to leave them alone, stop claiming the Life Is Good Web site uses anything remotely related to Hitel's patent and to pay suitable damages to make it think twice before coming after Life Is Good or Constructor.io again.

In the suit, Life Is Good, founded in 1994 by brothers Bert and John Jacobs, and Constructor.io start by doubting whether Hitel is actually using its patent for anything but suing or threatening to sue companies that include New Balance - which the suit claims simply signed a licensing deal to make Hitel go away - Gucci, Giorgio Armani, the Gap, Hot Topic and other clothing makers and retailers.

On information and belief, Hitel is a patent assertion entity whose only business since it was founded in 2020 has been asserting the '617 patent against online retailers and other companies to extract settlement payments based on litigation and/or the threat of litigation. On information and belief, Hitel does not make or sell any products that use the '617 patent. Instead, since its 2020 founding, Hitel has filed thirty (30) lawsuits asserting infringement of the '617 patent. Hitel is reportedly one of the most prolific filers of patent cases in the United States. Despite Hitel's assertions of the '617 patent against dozens of companies in dozens of patent cases, no company has been determined by a court to infringe the '617 patent.

In the lawsuits that it has filed, Hitel asserts that its "principal place of business" is at 4757 W Park Blvd, STE 113-1052, Plano, Texas 75093. On information and belief, Hitel's purported principal place of business is a mailbox at a store called "Postal Shoppe," which is also located at 4757 W Park Blvd, STE 113, Plano, Texas 75093.

The two companies continue that Hitel's patent, such as it is, focuses on teaching users of a Web site how to improve their searches, and that the Life Is Good site does no such thing. Instead, and contrary to Hitel's claims, they say, the site uses techniques such as a spelling table so that if a user types in "tablewaer," the site knows to show the user pictures of products such as an "It's Pie Day" T-shirt that includes a plate and a fork, that is, "tableware."

LIG's Website uses sophisticated spelling correction software that automatically corrects spelling errors and/or recognizes common misspellings. Such spelling correction techniques have nothing to do with the alleged invention of the '617 [Hitel's] patent, because they do not involve using "navigation" by a user to learn the meaning of misspelled search terms. Indeed, techniques for correcting spelling errors were known long before the '617 patent, and the '617 patent does not claim to have invented spelling correction software.

In any case, Hitel's purported technology kind of sucks, the companies add:

Because of the robust search capability provided by Constructor's proprietary website search software, LIG's Website has no need for the alleged invention of the '617 patent, which uses a fundamentally different and simplistic approach. Indeed, the alleged invention of the '617 patent would reduce or disrupt the performance of Constructor's search technology in LIG's Website. For example, the '617 patent allegedly creates associations between "unknown words" and one or more "keywords" after a specific series of steps including user navigation and an additional user input. Such a system would create unpredictable and undesirable results for "unknown" search terms based on potentially arbitrary user navigations or selections.

Complete complaint (1.3M PDF).


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LIG made a
"BIKES ARE THE NEW TOILET PAPER" tee, during the sheltering-in-place time and I need one. It had to be one of the dumbest LIG shirts I have seen, and that's saying something. Please offer other examples for that title

TMI: I've been cleaning myself with a bike ever since, I just wipe off the vinyl saddle afterwards. With toilet paper, oddly enough. And then a spritz of 91% rubbing alcohol.
(not true)

Frankly, I don't think that the bike (and associsted) industry P.R. mouthpieces People For Bikes and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association liked the wording.

Voting closed 6