Southeastern Employment Services
Roberta Hurley is the CEO of Southeastern Employment Services. The company, based in Old Lyme, Connecticut, finds jobs for people with disabilities.
Last year, Hurley received a letter from an unfamiliar company, threatening a lawsuit against her and her business, Southeastern Employment Services, unless she paid up. The company, FolNer LLC, alleged that her business was violating one of its patents which covered the process of scanning documents and then emailing them. The letter said that if Roberta that she would not be sued if she paid a licensing fee for each one of her employees.
"The letters are very threatening. If you don't know what's happening, they're pretty scary," said Hurley.
Like most other company’s, Southeastern Employment Services regularly used the scan-to-email feature of the office’s copying machine. Complying with FolNer LLC’s demand would have cost Hurley’s business $75,000, money it can’t afford.
Her business hired a patent attorney to help figure out who was behind the claim. Initially, the only information the attorney could find was that FolNer LLC was connected to a P.O. Box in Delaware. After more digging, he discovered that FolNer LLC was part of a network of six similarly named companies all claiming to own the same patents. According to the U.S. Patent Office, the patents in question are all owned by MPHJ Technologies, a well known patent troll.
"It's basically people just buying patents and sending letters to small businesses and trying to get money out of them and they're not going to get it out of me," said Hurley.
“I just find it very slimy and backhanded that people would do this.”
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