The Joint Defense Group, which comprises the defendants currently involved in a counter lawsuit with Acacia, have been in litigation with the patent holder for more than a year and a half, shelling out nearly $100,000 per month to retain the services of Boston-based law firm Fish & Richardson to keep up the fight, which if lost, could have serious ramifications for the entire adult industry.
Homegrown Video President Spike Goldberg, co-author of the open letter, claims that attorneys who specialize in patent law charge upwards of $400 to $600 per hour. Goldberg, Greg Clayman, president of Video Secret, and other members of the defense group have spent more than $1 million in lawyer’s fees to date.
“Patent litigation is among the most expensive type of lawsuit that companies or individuals enter into,” Goldberg told XBiz.
Supporting Goldberg and Clayman in their plea for financial support are other members of the defense group, including National A-1 Internet, ClubJenna, AEBN, Webmaster Paradise, Gamelink, Ademia, Cybernet Ventures, Inc., Lightspeed, ARS, CyberNet Entertainment LLC Cyber Trend, Inc, GlobalAvs/ProAdult, Pro-Adult, ATK, and Video Bliss Inc.
Titled “It’s Your Choice: Now or Never,” the letter makes a heartfelt request for financial support from the webmaster community to keep up the defense against Acacia.
“We need your help to build our war chest so that we can fight to win,” states the letter. “Acacia is on the run, but they have $50 million in the bank to keep fighting. If they can outlast the Joint Defense Group in this battle, then there will be no one in the industry to stop their attack. The result of this battle will have implications for everyone: big or small, adult or mainstream.”
The letter also warns webmasters that the next step in the battle with Acacia could include a class-action lawsuit against the adult industry as a whole. If the motion for the class action is granted by a judge and proceeds, Acacia could have the ability to litigate against all adult companies that use streaming media technology, and the choice to counter-litigate will not be an option.
“In simple terms,” the letter states. “If Acacia wins, they will be at your doorstep demanding money. You will not even have the ability to contest or challenge their patents in court.”
The letter is critical of those adult companies that rushed to sign licensing agreements with Acacia, rather than ban together as an industry and resist Acacia’s claim of ownership of a technology that many critics say is far too broad to be legal.
“Acacia’s business model is to acquire patents and enforce them through any means,” the letter states. “Over the past two years, some companies in our industry have settled with Acacia because they thought it was less expensive than litigating. Those settlements helped make Acacia more confident and strengthened their resolve to take further aggressive steps to achieve their business plan.”
Some of the larger adult companies that have settled with Acacia include Larry Flynt Publications , CECash, TopBucks, Vivid Entertainment, Wicked Pictures, Platinum Bucks, and Traffic Cash Gold.
But Goldberg, Clayman and others contend that many members of the webmaster community “have sat on the sidelines as well as on their hands and checkbooks watching this play out.”
“These are webmasters, studio owners, and others who have made substantial amounts of money over the years,” the letter states. “Nevertheless, they remain steadfastly silent and reluctant to step up to the plate despite knowing that this threatens the entire adult entertainment industry.
“The Joint Defense Group believes that it is time for industry members who have remained uninvolved to step up to the plate,” Goldberg, Clayman, and the defense group state. “Now is the time for all webmasters, studios, and others in any way related to the adult Internet to do the right thing. Even if you settled or are not immediately affected or threatened by Acacia’s alleged patent claims, You must help the cause! Groups like ours are empowered when our peers demonstrate support with financial assistance not just empty rhetoric.”
The letter concludes itself by asking webmasters to pick up the phone and pledge their support at (949) 716-8080. Contributions can also be sent to: Acacia Joint Defense Group, c/o Spike Goldberg, New Destiny, 27111 Aliso Viejo Rd., #180, Aliso Viejo, Calif. 92656.