The High-Tech Hypocrites of "Tort Reform"

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

For Immediate Release:
April 23, 2002

Contact: Joanne Doroshow


New York, NY - The Center for Justice & Democracy (CJ&D) announced today the release of NOT IN MY BACKYARD II: The High-Tech Hypocrites of “Tort Reform.” The new White Paper takes a look at the litigation behavior of the high-tech industry, which is currently pushing federal class action legislation that would make it more difficult for consumers to win class action suits against corporations that commit fraud and other health, safety and environmental violations. The high-tech industry also was a principal mover behind enactment of 1995 and 1998 laws that limit the rights of defrauded shareholders to sue.

CJ&D’s study finds, “Litigation has become a time-honored way for high-tech companies to do business. But they do not like being held legally accountable by consumers. To these companies, the courts should be reserved exclusively for their patent, trademark, breach of contract and damaged property suits to recover for commercial losses. These companies have brought thousands of such suits in recent years, sometimes in an effort simply to browbeat small businesses or individuals into submission. Tort restrictions advocated by these companies virtually never limit the rights of corporations to bring such lawsuits.”

Among the cases examined in NOT IN MY BACKYARD II: The High-Tech Hypocrites of “Tort Reform” are:

• In August 2001, eBay sued a company called BidBay, alleging that use of the word “bay” in its name and the overall appearance of the BidBay website infringed on the eBay trademark.

• In 1997, Motorola sued Fritz Company, Inc. and Fritz Air Freight for $1.3 million after Motorola’s satellites rolled off a Fritz truck while being loaded at the airport.

• In August 2000, Intel sued Broadcom for $82 million for infringing on five patents. A jury found one patent invalid and that Broadcom hadn’t violated a second. Intel awaits trial on the other three.

• In 2000, sued Von Eric Lerner Kalaydjian and his company, Amazon Cosmetics and Tan Products for using the word “Amazon” to sell beauty products. Kalaydjian had sold only 100 bottles of tanning oil at the time of the suit.

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