NORCROSS, Ga., May 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Hi-Tech Pharmaceutical filed a lawsuit earlier this week against a Patent Troll With Ties to Stanford University - Thermolife International and Ron Kramer. Hi-Tech Sued Thermolife International and Ron Kramer over Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) and Deceptive Trade Practices. Thermolife is the Third most litigious patent troll in America – Thermolife International and Ron Kramer," said Jared Wheat, President of Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals. According to a report published by the Practicing Law Institute, frivolous patent litigation costs U.S. businesses approximately $29 billion a year in direct costs and $80 billion in indirect costs. And, according to a study published in July by Price Waterhouse Coopers, almost 6,500 patent lawsuits were filed in the United States in 2013, of which 67 percent of those lawsuits were filed by patent trolls like Thermolife and Kramer.
As President Obama acknowledged earlier this month, patent trolls, "essentially leverage and hijack" patents originally issued to others in an effort to "extort" money through litigation.
"They don't actually produce anything themselves," Obama said. "They are essentially trying to leverage and hijack somebody else's idea and see if they can extort some money out of them."
We are asking the court to award Hi-Tech damages for Deceptive Trade Practices, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), and to enter a declaratory judgment that Hi-Tech does not infringe Thermolife's patents. In 2013 alone Thermolife and Kramer filed (117) patent infringement cases and (66) of those patents were licensed from Stanford University. The complaint (see the complaint here) alleges that Thermolife purchased licenses with respect the Stanford Patents for the sole purpose of using them as a basis upon which to bring fraudulent lawsuits against entities in the dietary supplement industry, including Hi-Tech. "It is surprising to me that Stanford is involved in this type of litigation," said Jared Wheat.
The lawsuit also alleges, Thermolife and Kramer tortiously interfered with Hi-Tech's business relations through improper and wrongful conduct including, but not limited to, the following: (A) Repeatedly filing meritless and fraudulent lawsuits against Hi-Tech in bad faith; (B) Falsely and misleadingly accusing Hi-Tech of infringing upon Thermolife's patents, both in lawsuits and through correspondence to Hi-Tech's customers; (c) Defaming the business reputation of Hi-Tech; (D) Threatening to sue Hi-Tech's customers if they continued to sell certain Hi-Tech products.
The lawsuit further alleges "In furtherance of this scheme, Thermolife caused letters, pleadings, and other matters and things to be deposited with and delivered by the United States Postal Service and interstate couriers to various courts, Hi-Tech, and/or Hi-Tech's customers in repeated violation, or attempted violation, of 18 U.S.C. Section 1341" (mail fraud). In furtherance of the unlawful scheme, Thermolife, Kramer, and their officers, agents, and employees repeatedly transmitted, or caused to be transmitted, writings, signs, signals, pictures and sound communications transmitted in interstate commerce, including but not limited to, numerous interstate telephone calls, facsimile transmissions, email communications, and electronic submissions of documents, in repeated violation, of attempted violation, of 18 U.S.C. Section 1343 (wire fraud). The suit further alleges, "Defendants have conspired to conduct and participate in the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity. That conduct constitutes conspiracy to violate Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) 18 U.S.C. Section 1962(c), in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1962(d)." Passed the year after The Godfather was published, RICO is part of a 1970 law designed to allows plaintiffs to bring civil lawsuits against organizations whose members allegedly committed crimes.
"Patent trolls" are individuals or companies that acquire patents solely for the purpose of using them to extract license fees and settlements from those targeted as alleged infringers. The threat of a frivolous lawsuit, let along the cost of litigation should a lawsuit ever be filed, can be devastating, particularly for small business owners. Patent trolls bank on a small business simply paying the alleged license fee versus fighting the matter in a court of law. It's deceptive and a misuse of our current patent system. "Dietary supplement companies face enough roadblocks without having to worry about predatory patent trolls and the potential cost of litigation to protect their businesses. They cannot afford to be attacked by dubious patent trolls looking to make a quick buck, and these patent trolls are essentially boardroom shakedowns by those who have found a loophole in the existing patent infringement laws. Not wanting to pay for a protracted legal fight, the defendants almost always settle even if they think they'd win. Wheat calls it a vicious cycle - the more companies settle, the more lawsuits are filed. "It's like a legal version of a mob protection racket," said Wheat, "The tactics are different, but the end result is a good, old-fashioned shakedown."
Hi-Tech has fought Thermolife and Kramer multiple times in patent cases and we have emerged victorious every single time. Thermolife has sued the who's who of dietary supplements in the past several years without one single victory."I think Thermolife and Kramer are basically a parasitic tax on the supplement industry. We want to encourage other defendants to create as much friction as possible, rather than feeding the beast with easy settlement checks." said Wheat.
"The dietary supplement industry is comprised predominantly of small-business owners who are working day and night to keep their doors open and provide jobs to the hundreds of thousands who choose to work in our industry, but their growth is threatened by the actions of a few bad actors." said Steve Smith, Senior Vice-President of Hi-Tech. "Patent trolls are becoming more and more problematic within our industry, and we applaud anyone who is taking a similar stand against this baseless monetary attack." said Smith.
Founded in 1998, Thermolife has earned a special brand of hatred in the supplement industry as the ultimate patent troll. Meanwhile, Thermolife and Ron Kramer wears its designation as a patent troll, as a badge of honor. Kramer makes the laughable claim to be the "truth speaker" and he claims to be a man committed to speaking the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth...whether some insiders like it or not. However, lacking from the "truth speaker" is his telling of his entire colorful history. Just to shed a little light on the subject......In a bid to have Kramer's probation terminated, Ron Kramer's lawyer claimed that his client "has worked his little fingers to the bone as an informant and general source of information for the Narcotics Task Force (NTF) on steroid related offenses. According to filings by his attorneys, Kramer worked hard to provide the government with insider tips. "Defendant has cooperated not just minimally, but to a super-human extent with the NTF in assisting them to investigate and prosecute steroid related offenses of which they previously had almost no working understanding," attorney Geoffrey Carr wrote." In Thermolife's forum, they try to throw dirt on Hi-Tech and others in the industry without looking at what is staring back at them in the mirror. In this lawsuit, Hi-Tech will call a "spade a spade" which is ultimately what the "truth speaker", Ron Kramer and Thermolife have always tried to divert attention from." says Wheat.
Hi-Tech has continued to put up such a strong fight against these type trolls and will not be shaken down. The most direct way to address these putrid patent pariahs is to directly make their activities illegal, by passing a federal law making the most heinous aspects of trolling — such as accusing a company of violating patent when you have no meaningful reason to believe that it has done so — illegal. However, until Congress passes such a law Hi-Tech will continue to fight back, Hi-Tech has forced Thermolife and Kramer to actually mount a case and establish that it deserves money. That has turned out to be too hard for the troll on multiple occasions." says Jared Wheat.
To Quote Ron Kramer..... "being served is not a choice sir"
Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals (https://www.hitechpharma.com/index.htm) is a leading global healthcare supplier that develops, manufactures and distributes over-the-counter (OTC) Pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements. Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals is one of the world's leading generics and branded pharmaceutical companies, providing products to customers throughout the world. The company maintains one of the industry's broadest and highest quality product portfolios, which is regularly bolstered by an innovative and robust product pipeline. Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals has attained leading positions in key international markets through its wide array of dosage forms and delivery systems, significant manufacturing capacity, global commercial scale and a committed focus on quality and customer service. The company ranks among the top companies in dietary supplements and has among the largest capacity of U.S.-based manufacturers.