File under: Collateral Troll Damage.
There is a sad digression in the ongoing intellectual property lawsuit between Sipco, LLC and Amazon, et al, involving one of the defendants, Hawking Technology. Back in the fall of 2008, Sipco served it’s complaint to initiate litigation against Amazon.com and other companies including Hawking. Defendants were given about a month to file answers to the complaint, and they all did at the time, except for Hawking. By mid December, Sipco filed a motion for default judgement against Hawking, since they weren’t even acknowledging the lawsuit. Hawking’s position at this point could be described as ‘super shitty’ in that a default judgement against a company that won’t even pay respect to the court could tear a ragged hole right through its bank account. Not surprisingly, Hawking woke up and responded. In their motion to set aside default judgement, they claimed the ‘leaky water pipe’ defense. Two employees signed declarations that stated the complaint letter was received by one of them, who did not notice the importance of the letter and put it the designated place for mail processing, and then after a water pipe leaked all over the mail, the other employee threw it away because it, along with all the other mail, was completely illegible. Ok. Whatever. Hawking says, please don’t default-judge us, we are here now before the court and we want to play nice. So the court says, alright. Go ahead and proceed along normal lines. Hawking avoided default judgement and over the next months came to an agreement with Sipco to some terms (unknown) and the Hawking aspect of the case was closed. That happened in the fall of 2009.
That could have been the end of it, but it looks like Hawking pushed their luck alittle bit too far. It’s gonna start to get complicated, so let me introduce you to the characters in the drama.
Mr. Wu is the lawyer for Hawking during the Sipco dispute.
Mr. Owen and Ms. You are the employees who’s declarations pulled Hawking from the jaws of default. They quit working for Hawking soon after the settlement with Sipco.
Mr. Lin is the principal person who represents Hawking.
Turns out the Mr. Wu filed a fee collection case against Hawking after the Sipco trial was done. In the process of discovery for that case it turned out that Mr. Owen and Ms. You stated that the leaky-pipe story was cooked up by Mr. Lin, who then coerced them into signing the false declaration. Ms. You appears to be completely manipulated in this case, and never had any inkling of the situation and that she was given the declaration document to sign without having ever seen it before. She was afraid that she would loose her job. Mr Owen, the senior product manager with no legal training, was put in charge of handling the case and dealing with the lawyers at Mr. Wu’s firm. Through his conversations with the lawyers, Owen heard about a ‘water damage’ defense, among others, and passed it along to Mr. Lin, who decided to pick the leaky water pipe excuse. He couldn’t do the deed alone, however, and he also refused to sign the false statement himself, urging Mr. Owen to do so. One time even suggesting that he work with a different story, if the ‘leaky pipe’ story did not feel right. All of the damning evidence, beyond the statements by Mr. Owen and Ms. You, are contained in emails between Owen and Lin. At one point, Owen said he was “hesitant to sign this, as this is a direct lie.” Sigh.
Mr. Lin and Hawking really blew it. Mr. Owen and Ms. You were saved from legal consequences of their false statements, because they eventually came clean, and because their statements in the end did not greatly effect the case. Mr Lin, after not paying his legal fees for the Sipco case, is being referred to the US Attorney for investigation.
If it turns out that Sipco’s patents are fraudulent, then this is a tragic story of unnecessary stress and expense, and it’s not over yet for Mr. Lin.