EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.18.08

Microsoft is a Major Patent Troll, By Proxy

Posted in Apple, Bill Gates, Courtroom, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold/Intellectual Ventures is to Microsoft
what Sisvel is to Philips [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

Nathan Myhrvold

When writing about Acacia, we were unable to show clearly enough its connection with Microsoft, but top-level appointments were made of Microsoft staff just days before they attacked GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] and also around the same time that patent threats were issued by Microsoft's CEO.

The Acacia debacle had some many ‘coincidences’ around it (circumstantial evidence only), but Nathan Myhrvold is no coincidence. Him and his shell firm, Intellectual Ventures, are in part the creation of Microsoft’s former chairman, Bill Gates. We did stress some time in the past that Gates had actually invested in his former close colleague (Myhrvold [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), who operates a patent-trolling firm.

There is a new article in the Wall Street Journal which reveals more details. It’s worth starting with this:

Nathan Myhrvold: The genesis of this idea was when I was at Microsoft. We had a problem with patent liability. All these people were coming to sue us or demand payment. And Bill (Gates) asked me to think about if there was a solution. This is what I came up with.

So, this was the eureka moment. Myhrvold was, in some sense, designated to become Microsoft’s proxy for patent litigation, which would be also well funded by Gates himself (not Microsoft, i.e. it’s a private or secret investment). Since Myhrvold’s company will have no products, the bad reputation won’t be an issue. From now on, it may be safe to assume that Myhrvold and his company are a Microsoft spinoff or part of Microsoft. Thus the title of this post.

Going back to the Wall Street Journal, the following is stated in a separate but related page.

Over the past few years, the former Microsoft Corp. executive has quietly amassed a trove of 20,000-plus patents and patent applications related to everything from lasers to computer chips. He now ranks among the world’s largest patent-holders — and is using that clout to press tech giants to sign some of the costliest patent-licensing deals ever negotiated.

Groklaw points out this other example of Myhrvold’s activities, which are shrouded in some secrecy.

John Amster, one of two former Intellectual Ventures executives that formed RPX, said he will not detail the company’s business model or customers until October. However he did say RPX will acquire patents in a broad range of technology and e-commerce areas, especially when the patents are being asserted or involved in litigation.

At ZDNet, Nathan Myhrvold is being called a patent troll.

Former Microsoft exec Nathan Myhrvold has been collecting patents, extracting fees from technology companies via his company Intellectual Ventures. Is Myhrvold a patent troll with tech cred?

The Wall Street Journal has a long account of Myhrvold’s patent collecting efforts and how he is winning multimillion dollar payments from the likes of Verizon and Cisco. These payments are top secret material, but Myhrvold’s firm is the one reaping the rewards. Intellectual Ventures has more than 20,000 patents. In many respects, Myhrvold is just a patent trader. A few lawsuits could define him as a troll quickly though.

More about this here: [via Digital Majority]

Unlike most other pure licensing companies, Intellectual Ventures hasn’t filed patent-infringement lawsuits to help force settlements. But the group lobbying on behalf of tech companies in Washington, the Coalition for Patent Fairness — which includes several companies that have been approached for licensing deals by Intellectual Ventures — says it is only a matter of time. “Since these thousands of patents only give [Intellectual Ventures] the right to stop others from making products, through lawsuits, it is obvious what they intend to do,” the group said in a statement.

[...]

As with short sellers, large companies don’t like plays that can shake them up and expose their inadequacies, and will spend large amounts to PR / lobby / legislate them away – and as any small player who has tried to enforce patent abuse by large companies knows, it’s virtually impossible to win and ruinously expensive to fight. So in that respect, aggregation is a good thing. Its hard to tell from this article if its just part of the PR war or whether there has been a real step up in the shakedown.

“Our friends up north spend over five billion dollars on research and development and all they seem to do is copy Google and Apple.”

Steve Jobs (2006)

“Hey, Steve, just because you broke into Xerox’s store before I did and took the TV doesn’t mean I can’t go in later and steal the stereo.”

Bill Gates, Microsoft

“Usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products. It’s not a bad product, but bits and pieces are missing.”

Arno Edelmann, Microsoft Manager (2007)

So companies like Xerox do the [R]esearch, Microsoft does the [D]evelopment (through acquisition) and companies like Acacia, SCO and Intellectual Ventures can may handle the litigation/extraction (through scare tactics).

Intellectual Ventures and its ilk are arguably the single biggest risk to America’s continued leadership in technology and innovation. As dsquared elegantly put it in a comment here in May, the company might do a bit of R, but it doesn’t do any D. Instead, it acts as a brake on any company wanting to do substantive R&D of its own, since there’s a good chance Intellectual Ventures will have got there first, patented the idea, and then just decided to sit on it until somebody dares to violate it.

It’s worth adding that Microsoft already uses its patents offensively [1, 2]. In fact, it even strikes deals whereby it extracts money based on imaginary things. Here is the latest example, be it Microsoft and Pioneer’s cross-licensing.

Although the contents of the agreement, including the specific financial terms, are confidential, the parties indicated that Microsoft is being compensated by Pioneer.

In essence, as we warned before, Microsoft makes money by sucking other companies' reserves for use of what their claim to be their “innovation”. Microsoft found a new business model and now relies on revenue from software patents. If only more people could see it.

“I think that “innovation” is a four-letter word in the industry. It should never be used in polite company. It’s become a PR thing to sell new versions with.”

“It was Edison who said “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”. That may have been true a hundred years ago. These days it’s “0.01% inspiration, 99.99% perspiration”, and the inspiration is the easy part. As a project manager, I have never had trouble finding people with crazy ideas. I have trouble finding people who can execute. IOW, “innovation” is way oversold. And it sure as hell shouldn’t be applied to products like MS Word or Open office.”

Linus Torvalds, July 2008

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

3 Comments

  1. aeshna23 said,

    September 18, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Gravatar

    I believe that the information in this post points more simply and clearly to the problem with MS and patents than many posts do. Other posts have more complexity. To convince others, we need to keep track of the easy to understand arguments.

  2. pcole said,

    September 18, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Gravatar

    MS couldn’t be satisfied with the amount of money is was making at the time W2k was around so they resorted to the WGA in xp to squeeze it’s current clients. That is the beginning of MS’s end. Now look at how many times the EULA keeps changing, and not for the better either.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 18, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Gravatar

    They already lost about $18 billion in 1998:

    http://boycottnovell.com/2008/08/13/smithers-on-massive-msft-losses/

    At the moment, over in IRC, we’re discussing the financial frauds and mess that’s blowing up gradually.

    http://beranger.org/index.php?page=diary&2008/09/18/13/41/05-one-more-take-on-the-wall-street
    http://beranger.org/index.php?page=diary&2008/09/18/07/14/53-thursday-reading

    BTW, I ought to have added that Nathan Myhrvold has openly expressed his FOSS disdain:

    http://boycottnovell.com/2007/12/09/charlie-rose-nathan-myhrvold/

What Else is New


  1. Microsoft's Latest Anti-Linux Strategy: Deleting Android From Android Devices

    Microsoft pretends that it is 'embracing Android' whilst actively trying to delete Android from Android devices



  2. Only Months After Microsoft's Ramji Enters the Linux Foundation Microsoft Gradually Joins Him

    Sam Ramji is doing to Linux what Stephen Elop did to Nokia



  3. Microsoft Wants to Remove (or Deprecate) PuTTY From Windows and Replace It With Proprietary Microsoft Software

    The most prominent NSA partner wants to 'contribute' to OpenSSH, one of the thorns in the side of spies all around the world



  4. EPO Corruption Compared to FIFA Corruption While 'Control Risks' Helps EPO Hide/Suppress Evidence of Corruption; Calls on German Authorities to Crack Down on Both

    As German authorities express eagerness to crack down on corruption calls emerge for action against the Munich-based EPO, where Battistelli acts like an out-of-control autocrat who tries to silence the media and conceal information about Topić's and his own abuses



  5. When Patent Lawyers Attack the Messengers for Stopping Software Patents, Ignoring Patent Law's New Post-Alice Reality

    Analysis of recent articles from patent lawyers, highlighting their bias and disregard for facts in this system which has become increasingly intolerant toward software patents



  6. Links 3/6/2015: More Ubuntu Phones, Qt Releases

    Links for the day



  7. Links 2/6/2015: Black Lab Linux Releases, Krita Fundraiser

    Links for the day



  8. IRC Proceedings: May 17th - May 30th, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  9. Sharp Drop in Microsoft Patents, But Not in Patent Assaults, Coordinated Attacks on Android/Linux, and Googlebombing

    Using patent blackmail (antithetical to the original goal of patents) and other forms of blackmail, Microsoft is desperately trying to crush GNU/Linux and Android, all while Windows 'sales' fall and investors lose confidence



  10. EPO Reluctantly (and Privately) Confirms Giving Public Money for Military-connected 'Control Risks' to Spy on Journalists and Their Sources While Techrights is Under Fresh DDOS Attacks

    The EPO President -- or anyone who is referred to as 'appointing authority' -- finds himself even deeper in a scandal as he silently attacks the very same people whom he pretends to negotiate with by contracting spies from London (to maliciously target British journalists)



  11. Links 1/6/2015: wattOS R9, Tanglu 3

    Links for the day



  12. Supreme Failure: With SCOTUS Approval of Patent Trolls and a Push by Justice Department to Reinforce Copyright on APIs (at SCOTUS Level) the Future Looks Gloomy

    The patent system goes wild in terms of scope, the nature of the plaintiff (merely purchasing patents), and the extension of patents to monopolies on named APIs (by virtue of deranged interpretation of copyright law)



  13. McAfee Associates Free Software and Anonymity With Crime

    Insecurity firm McAfee, whose record on Free software is appalling (it is Windows-centric for its business), continues years of tradition by slinging mud at Tor



  14. The EPO Still Wastes Public Money on Publicity Stunts and 'Reputation Management' Campaigns

    The European Patent Office (EPO) is misusing public funds to manufacture self-congratulatory publicity for itself whilst attacking those who write negative commentary



  15. The Lessons of Stuxnet: Never Use Microsoft Windows

    Windows is sufficiently 'NSA-compatible' for remote compromise and physical damage (sabotage) to highly sensitive, high-risk equipment



  16. Links 30/5/2015: Wine 1.7.44, Berry Linux 1.20

    Links for the day



  17. White House Intervention Harms Android and Every Software Developer on the Planet

    US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli urges the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to let APIs be covered by copyrights, rendering almost every program a potential copyright violation



  18. Microsoft Lobbying in India Shoots Down or At Least Weakens Free/Libre Software Policy

    Microsoft's covert efforts (lobbying with the help of public partners like NASSCOM) to eliminate an India-leaning software policy in India is finally paying off



  19. Propaganda Mode for UPC Agreement Whilst EPO Increasingly Grants Patents on Software

    In order to make the Unitary Patent a reality (towards a 'no place to hide' patent approach) misleading claims are being made



  20. Patents Are Not Source Code

    Ford is once again misleading regarding Open Source, mischievously associating a patent pledge with Open Source



  21. Links 29/5/2015: ALT Linux 7.0.5, Google I/O 2015

    Links for the day



  22. Links 28/5/2015: SourceForge Hijack, RIP Marco Pesenti Gritti

    Links for the day



  23. Censorship on Reddit Has Gotten (Condé) Nasty and Silent, Even Actively Silenced

    Condé Nast has turned Reddit into a platform of censorship after the acquisition



  24. The Supreme Court of the United States Helps Patent Trolls

    In an unforeseen kind of ruling, the same court which slapped down a lot of software patents last year is now legitimising the actions of a patent troll



  25. Patent Lawyers Fight Hard for the Future of Software Patents

    Media that is dominated by patent lawyers and targets an audience of patent lawyers refuses to accept the post-Alice reality



  26. Fortune Glorifies Patent Troll Jay Walker (Patent Utility)

    Jay Walker, a patent troll, creates a Web-based trolling/'licensing' service and the corporate media helps him



  27. Stealing Android's Thunder, Making It All About Apple and Microsoft During Google I/O

    Misleading articles and conjoined media/analyst attacks on Android coincide with Google's event where major Android announcements are being made



  28. British Government May be a Step Closer to GNU/Linux (on the Desktops, Not Just Servers)

    The British government stops paying the criminal company that blackmails its members, thereby increasing the possibility of complete escape from proprietary software



  29. Microsoft's Patent Allies LG and Sony Agree to Put Microsoft Inside Android

    LG and Sony (of Rockstar Consortium) follow Samsung and Dell in Microsoft's campaign to turn Android into 'Microsoft Android' using patents-induced pressure/leverage



  30. Yet Another Major Security Deficiency in UEFI

    UEFI is inherently insecure, more so than the alternatives which it strives to replace, including Free/libre ones


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts