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. Links 4/5/2015: Many New Releases, Ubuntu Drone

    Links for the day



  2. Misplaced Focus on Patent Trolls and Patent Lawyers' Defence of Trolls

    Observations about media coverage and reactions to the focus on patent trolls, which distracts from desperately-needed reform around patent scope



  3. PATENT Act a 'Reform' for Big Corporations, Hence Does Not Address the Core Issues, Including Patent Scope and Massive Patent Aggressors

    Big corporations, including some of the biggest patent aggressors out there, successfully lobbied for what has essentially become a bipartisan bill to eliminate the thorn in their side



  4. Openwashing of Binary Blobs That Microsoft Uses to Attack Free Software and GNU/Linux From the Inside

    Media which is either willfully ignorant or complicit has successfully, based on volume of coverage, framed Microsoft's proprietary software as openness and nicety



  5. Microsoft Kills Netscape Again, This Time Removing It From the History Books

    Microsoft's embarrassing crimes against Netscape -- the ones that put Bill Gates on trial and nearly split Microsoft -- virtually forgotten as Netscape itself is made to 'disappear'



  6. Microsoft India's Unofficial 'Branch' Infosys is Torturing the Meaning of Open Source Software

    Infosys, which is best known for its promotion of Microsoft in India, is distorting the meaning of 'Open Source' and joins a non-profit that is supposed to promote programming, not binary blobs



  7. Microsoft Windows is Dying, British Government Should Spend No More Money on It

    Time for the Establishment in the UK to abandon the out-of-support Windows XP (from 2001) and join the next generation of computing, which increasingly revolves around GNU/Linux and Free/libre software, supported by truly British companies



  8. IRC Proceedings: April 5th - May 2nd, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  9. Links 3/5/2015: Black Lab 6.5 RC2

    Links for the day



  10. Links 2/5/2015: Robolinux 7.9.1, LibreOffice Numbering

    Links for the day



  11. Links 1/5/2015: HP Ubuntu Laptops, Arch Linux 2015.05.01

    Links for the day



  12. Links 30/4/2015: Plasma 4.4 in the Making

    Links for the day



  13. Microsoft Embracing, Extending, Extinguishing the Linux-centric Arduino and Raspberry Pi, Making Them Windows Devices

    Raspberry Pi and Arduino carry water for Microsoft as part of the publicity stunts for Vista 10, the operating system which Microsoft tells investors is "marketing"



  14. Microsoft Uses Ubuntu to Demonstrate and Promote Microsoft Lock-in

    Canonical's Ubuntu is now used as the bait by which to seduce developers in the GNU/Linux world into Microsoft dependencies, surveillance, and software patents



  15. The EPO's Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, is Probably on His Way Out, Threatens to Resign

    The Napoleonic self-acclaimed 'president' of the EPO, who surrounded himself with loyal thugs and crushed all opposition to him (assuring reign by fear), reportedly threatens to fall on his sword if an independent mediator gets appointed



  16. Links 30/4/2015: Debian GNU/Hurd 2015, Microsoft Copies Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  17. Windows Recipes for Disaster (Met Police and Fukushima)

    Microsoft Windows mentality and strong dependencies continue to cause immeasurable damage that costs people a lot in terms money and in terms of health



  18. ‘Visual Studio Code’: Not News, Not Free, Not Open Source

    Another publicity stunt from Microsoft, this time going under the name ‘Visual Studio Code’, which is basically proprietary lock-in



  19. Microsoft's Patent Attacks on Android Not Covered in the Corporate Media, Only Microsoft as the 'Victim'

    Omission of important developments around Microsoft's war on GNU/Linux and Free software, notably against Android and ChromeOS as of late



  20. As Core Issues Still Not Addressed, Another Protest Against EPO Management Scheduled for Tomorrow in Munich, Germany

    On Thursday (tomorrow) yet another demonstration is organised in Munich, less than a week ahead of the UPC decision (May 5th)



  21. Pharmaceutical Patents and Hedge Funds: Evil Fighting Evil

    Revisiting the subject of patents on life or life-saving processes, plus a hedge fund's extortion-type attack on such patents (for quick profit)



  22. UCLA Foolishly Grooms Microsoft's Patent Troll Nathan Myhrvold (Intellectual Ventures), Who is Busy Attacking Android and Linux These Days

    More news about Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' anti-Linux tool, who lost a battle because of last year's SCOTUS ruling and is now groomed by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)



  23. Links 28/4/2015: Plasma 5.3, Cutelyst 0.8.0

    Links for the day



  24. Links 28/4/2015: More on Debian 8 “Jessie”, Fedora 22 Beta Walkthrough

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft is Attacking Android Like Never Before, Qisda the Latest to Sign Patent Extortion Deal

    More blackmail and propaganda against Android, courtesy of the gentler, kinder, 'new' Microsoft



  26. Caution Needed When Microsoft Copywriters Flood the Media With Microsoft Propaganda

    Media actively subverted by Microsoft-sponsored agents of deception, whose goal is to change what people think of Microsoft and its software, even if by lying (they call it 'marketing')



  27. Gartner Staff That Worked for Microsoft and the Latest Nonsense from Gartner or 'Former' Staff

    Gartner waited until 2015 to declare FOSS fit for databases; another example spotted where Gartner staff comes from Microsoft or vice versa



  28. Links 27/4/2015: Debian 9 Named, Linux 4.1 Reaches RC

    Links for the day



  29. Microsoft is Interjecting Itself Into GNU/Linux and Free Software News, Even Events and Foundations

    Microsoft's entryism strategy is proving effective as Microsoft successfully embeds itself inside the idealogical competition, subverting the competition's overall message and diluting the competition's focus on Free software



  30. The Unethical Business of Selling Fear of Free/Libre Software Bugs (Black Duck, Sonatype, and Symantec)

    The spreading of fear of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is now a growth industry, so proprietary opportunists are eager to capitalise on it, even if by distorting the truth


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