Warning: Case Studies Can Get You Sued

By: John Honovich, Published on Feb 24, 2015

What do 24 Hour Fitness, Barnes and Nobles and multiple hospitals have in common?

They have all been sued in the past few months, with their manufacturer case studies used as evidence. 

They join ~100 end users who have been sued in the past 2 years, something we first broke and covered here: Surveillance End Users Getting Sued by Hawk.

Case Study Suit Examples

24 Hour Fitness is being sued. Exhibit A in the suit? 3VR's CEO Letter Congratulating 24 Hour Fitness for Using 3VR.

Barnes and Nobles is being sued. Exhibit A in the suit? March Network's Case Study on Barnes and Nobles.

St. Joseph's Hospital is being sued. Exhibit A in the suit? Exacq's Case Study on the hospital.

The Power of Suing End Users

Understandably, you might find it horrible that end users are being sued.

But it works.

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The typical patent lawsuit historically sued the manufacturer directly. That can take a long time and the manufacturer is often not highly motivated to settle nor publicize what is happening. 

Suing end users accelerates this.

The end user gets the suit. Legal or senior management passes it to the security director, wondering what is going on. Not surprisingly, security is stunned. Security then turns to their integrator trying to figure out what happened and why they recommended / installed a system that is getting them sued. The integrator is blindsided. Now both the user and integrator are angry at the manufacturer. The manufacturer needs to do something.

From the Hawk suits, we have definitely seen rapid responses, with numerous manufacturer countersuing and reaching settlements quickly thereafter. Also, related, see Sued For Using Axis Cameras, Settles With Troll.

Obviously, it is bad business to let your customers get sued so manufacturers become highly motivated to settle.

Risks of Case Studies?

You will need to decide how much of a risk this is for you. There are tens of thousands of surveillance case studies and maybe 100 end users have been sued. Plus, it's possible for the suer to find information on end user equipment selection without depending on case studies. 

Equally important, it is not certain how many other patent holders will seek a similar strategy, though given how well this tactic appears to be working, savvy patent holders would likely find this attractive.

Manufacturers Desire for Case Studies

Manufacturers, regardless of suits, will still want case studies. In an industry with a hundred (or more) companies selling something that at least looks the same as their competitors to the untrained eye, case studies clearly help convince / calm / justify purchasing a given manufacturer's products.

Unauthorized Case Studies

Most case studies are hopefully approved and authorized by the end users involved. Though, we are sure many are not. 

First of all, if you are an end user or integrator, make sure any marketing material a manufacturer puts you in is approved by you. IPVM is no stranger to this as it is something we have fought against as we have a strict no manufacturer promotion policy.

Be Aware / Get Discounts

At the very least, be aware of this risk and if you agree to those case studies, make sure to get something out of it.

Surely, 3VR got tens of thousands of dollars worth of promotional benefits from marketing 24 Hour Fitness as a case study. Hopefully, 24 got more out of that deal than a lawsuit.

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1 report cite this report:

Arecont Pulls End User Marketing Claims on Jul 28, 2015
Manufacturers, you have to get explicit permission from end users and only state factually true claims about them. Arecont struggles to understand...
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