Until very recently, attorney John McAleese was employed at prestigious law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. But while McAleese was working in environmental law, he was privately collaborating with his wife Jennifer to cash in on a patent — by suing Apple, one of his firm's clients. As Ars Technica recounts, the McAleeses had invested in a company called FlatWorld, which held patents covering touchscreen interactions. Days after the iPhone was announced, the two were discussing how to leverage it against Apple.

Now, Apple has struck back, attempting to waylay McAleese's plans by saying he had access to confidential information. The McAleeses appear to be classic patent trolls, but the story behind them is fascinating, drawing back the curtain on how a couple with a small-time investment and some legal know-how can end up trying to bilk one of the world's biggest computer makers.