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02.26.08

Patents Roundup: Microsoft-backed Blackboard, Racketeering, and Ray Niro

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Patents at 5:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Blackboard Marks (Educational) Territory with (Patent) Urine

We last mentioned Blackboard just a week ago in light of its patent harassment and financial connections with Microsoft. This bond that they have might also be somewhat of a prelude to their monopolistic behavior, which can be seen in their use of software patents to starve competitors.

Blackboard turned out to be victorious in this long crusade against competitors. The consequences are clear:

“This is a signal event in educational technology,” said Alfred H. Essa, associate vice chancellor and deputy chief information officer for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. “It means that the big boys are playing for keeps and will use their patent portfolio at any cost to crush and deter new entrants. As a community, it will take us a long time to recover from this mess.”

‘Protection money’ as in this case (or taxation, to put it differently) is also what Microsoft will clearly be craving. This is why it must be stopped as early as possible.

On the same day, the Denver Post reports that this issue continues to be realised by the courts, but will it be addressed? Will the root of the problem ever be targeted?

U.S. District Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch sanctioned attorneys Terrance McMahon and Vera Elson of the firm McDermott, Will and Emery, of Chicago and San Francisco, for “cavalier and abusive” misconduct and for having a “what can I get away with?” attitude during a 13-day patent infringement trial in Denver.

He ruled that the entire trial was “frivolous” and the case filed solely to stifle competition rather than to protect a patent.

USPTOThis last sentence (part of a large article) illustrates the problem and justifies the renaming of such patents. Intellectual monopolies is what we really deal with here. Its disguised using words like “property”, “innovation”, “inventor”, “R&D”, “investor” and “security/protection” (whose protection?).

Rick Frenkel Meets Schoolyard Bully

A notorious head-hunting patent troll, Ray Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], seems to have gotten his way by announcing a bounty on people’s identity. Niro will probably receive more ridicule than self satisfaction for this — and quite rightly so.

Live by anonymity, die by anonymity.

Yes, I have been unmasked. It happened quite the way this blog happened – I got an anonymous email, from the guy who probably collected the bounty, telling me I better tell everyone who I am (and he clearly knew), or else he would take care of it for me. The clear threat in the email is that he would do it in a way I wouldn’t be happy about. I don’t know what that means, but as I have been growing weary of anonymity anyway, here I am.

[...]

Someone may have made $15,000 or so from a bounty posted by Ray Niro on this one – not sure I’ll ever find out who or how. I don’t actually even care.

If the father of this abusive movement (patent trolling) is anything to judge by, then patent trolls can also be aggressive extortionists. It is, almost by definition, what they already do in the State of Texas. This has shades of Microsoft’s intimidation techniques and it’s truly appalling. It probably all boils down to ethics.

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