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Microsoft counter-sues patent troll

Microsoft has taken out a lawsuit against Acacia Research Corp claiming that it violated a contract signed by the two concerning various patents after the latter decided to sue Microsoft for patent infringement.

The lawsuit, which is currently under a seal, has been filed in the Southern District of New York Court and follows the decision by the notorious patent compiler to go after the Redmond-based company.

“Acacia’s lawsuits are the worst kind of abusive litigation behaviour, attempting to extract payment based on litigation tactics and not the value of its patents,” said Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard, according to Bloomberg.

Microsoft’s complaint is that Acacia has reneged on a contract the two signed in 2010 to allow the former to license smartphone and mobile computing technologies that were related to the Palm OS.

Acacia buys up vast collections of patents in order to generate profit using the revenue from licensing them and its actions have led many to describe it as a patent troll.

The company had sales of $115.5 million [£71.6 million] in the first three quarters of the year and has filed hundreds of lawsuits this year albeit none of them actually under the company’s real name. It creates different subsidiaries to handle each patent and then files lawsuits using the subsidiary that is usually named after the patent it covers.

Acacia’s list of patent suit victims reads like a who’s who of technology firms with its targets including the likes of Intel, AMD and Via; Apple; Samsung; Motorola; Red Hat and Novell; Skype; Nokia; and HTC, among others.

The suit comes at an uncertain time for patent licensing firms with Congress looking into a proposal that will limit the scope of companies that compile patents with the sole intention of launching lawsuits against technology companies.

It is made up of a number of different clauses with patent owners having to provide extra detail on what the patent is and how it’s been infringed with the plan to make the loser pay the winner’s legal bills.