This summer, Melissa Baily convinced a judge to toss a patent case filed against her client, Flagstar Bancorp. It was Baily’s first victory as lead counsel in a patent case, but that’s only part of the story. The summary judgment ruling obtained by Baily, a sixth-year associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges in San Francisco, did more than just strike a severe blow to Eon-Net, a notorious patent-holding company. The ruling also puts so-called patent trolls on notice: Sending out generic infringement letters may be a tactic on its way out.

Based in the British Virgin Islands, Eon-Net is run by an evangelical minister-cum-inventor, who holds several patents (including one on a device for collecting “canine waste”). In March 2005 the company filed a patent suit in New Jersey against Flagstar, a $16 billion savings bank based in Michigan. The bank was one of 32 companies sued separately by Eon-Net for infringing a patent that, the company claims, covers technology that allows online shoppers to enter information into Web sites and have it transferred to the Web retailer’s computer. Eon-Net, which also has pending litigation against JetBlue Airways and Liz Claiborne Inc., had successfully extracted settlement money from ING Bank and Sony Corp. over the same patent.

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