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09.20.08

More Microsoft Patent Trolls, Extortions, and SCO

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents, SCO at 4:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents protest against EPO

European Patent Office Faces Street Protest, Strike

IAM Magazine wrote about the protests in Europe. The backlash against the system succeeded when it comes generating coverage that raises awareness of the problem.

The Stop Software Patents website carries a copy of a press release put out by SUEPO – the union representing European Patent Office examiners – to coincide with the one day strike of EPO staff and a protest to be held in Brussels, both of which are scheduled for this Thursday, 18th September.

Economy of Patents Amid Financial Meltdown

Groklaw has highlighted this article, which shows how complicated and costly a frivolous patent lawsuit can be.

Boston clean-energy startup Ze-gen is building a pilot plant where waste materials are vaporized in a giant vat of molten iron, producing “syngas” that can then be burned to make electricity. When a federal judge in Texas dismissed a patent-infringement lawsuit against the company last month, Ze-gen had cause to hope that its recent legal hassles had also turned to vapor. But then, last month, its accusers filed a new complaint in federal district court in Boston. And with Ze-gen expected to file documents refuting the allegations soon, the case is likely to get a lot more complicated before it burns out.

This relates to a broader issue and an urgent need for change.

As the world’s attention is taken up with how to address the current financial crisis, the AFP’s Delphine Touitou reports that activists gathered in Malmö for the Europe Social Forum see social change as key to avoiding future financial meltdowns.

Microsoft’s Patent-Trolling Department

Nathan Myhrvold may well be operating at the behest of Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], whose headquarters are located nearby. Articles about this patent troll continue to arrive and Digital Majority keeps track of the finer details. To readers who are new to this, the following comment makes a good introduction.

I’d suggest the business be called Intellectual Vultures’ … because that is exactly what Nathan is bringing to the table – nothing. This business model stifles and prevents creative idea, and is yet another made up securities model that preys on other people’s legitimate hard work.

When he was at Microsoft, he had zero practical ideas and I see he’s still doing the same, only this time, he’s screwing the whole public. This business is living on the backs of other people because they don’t know how to spell the word ‘innovation’. How about coming up with an original and useful idea and earn it the old fashion way?

Nathan should be ashamed of this practice and he should be investigated by the FTC for predatory business practices.

TechCrunch calls it a “Patent Extortion Fund.”

Don’t blame Nathan Myhrvold for taking advantage of the culture of rampant patent litigation in this country. He is only doing what large companies with vast patent portfolios such as IBM and Microsoft do on a daily basis: use the threat of patent infringement litigation to strike lucrative patent licensing deals. Except Myhrvold, who used to be Bill Gates’ right-hand man at Microsoft during the 1990s, does it through his patent-gobbling fund, Intellectual Ventures.

Here is an example of the extortion:

Myhrvold told the WSJ that he acknowledges facing resistance from companies he targets for licenses. But his patent inventory gives him leverage to extract settlements without litigation. “I say, ‘I can’t afford to sue you on all of these, and you can’t afford to defend on all these,’” he said.

Another patent troll, RPX, is already in the making. It’s still in its infancy: the ‘harvesting’ phase.

RPX already purchased $30 million in patents

[...]

Intellectual Ventures (Bellevue, Wash.), launched by former Intel and Microsoft executives in 2000, is said to be among the first and largest of the group of companies formed in part to address the troll issue.

It’s interesting to see Intel’s involvement there given the Microsoft collusions and coordinated sabotage of OLPC (yes, a charity). At one point, Intel and Microsoft were suspected of using a Nigerian patent troll to sting OLPC with a lawsuit. Groklaw received no response when asking LANCOR about it.

IAM Magazine has this new article which suggests RPX is a patent protection umbrella. As pointed out in the IRC channel only a few hours ago, they merely put lipstick on an ugly pig.

On Wednesday, California-based RPX Corporation issued a press release to announce that it has secured funding from both Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Charles River Ventures, and that it will be setting out its USP in October. But we already have a pretty strong clue as to the general thrust of the new business. “Patent assertion and litigation costs US businesses billions of dollars every year. Our goal was to create an affordable service model that reduces the threat of assertion and litigation and provides efficient patent protection to subscribing companies,” says RPX co-founder and former Intellectual Ventures hotshot John Amster in the release.

That last bit says it all. It’s merely another ‘spinoff’ or a huge patent troll (Intellectual Ventures), which is somewhat of a Microsoft spinoff. They justify their trolling as “protection” or “security” and urge companies to join their licensing cartel. There is no one umbrella to rule them all, so it’s a money-collection scheme, or a “massive pyramid scheme,” as Matt Asay called it a couple of days ago.

Philips and Its Pirates

Sisvel, which is Philips’ right-hand ‘pirate’ for extraction of revenue and illegal ‘rape’ of competitors, was previously mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Law-enforcing departments already have Sisvel and Philips in check for violation of market rules, but those ‘pirates’ never relent.

MPEG LA, LLC and SISVEL S.p.A. announce that as of August 26, 2008 the administration of the DVB-T licensing program, including the administration of all DVB-T Patent Portfolio Licenses previously executed by MPEG LA and licensees, has been transferred from MPEG LA to SISVEL.

Here’s what is happening with those patents.

The 12 verdicts of infringement were issued in all 12 cases on the merits brought by MPEG-2 patent owners who are also Licensors in the MPEG-2 Patent Portfolio License offered by MPEG LA. Those patent owners include CIF Licensing, LLC; GE Technology Development, Inc.; Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV; Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.; Mitsubishi Electric Corporation; Sony Corporation; Thomson Licensing S.A.; The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York; and Victor Company of Japan, Ltd. (JVC).

Apple’s Patent a Day Won’t Keep the Critics Away

Here is another junk patent from Apple.

Apple files notification screen patent, is this really that unique?

[...]

It is a bit strange that a patent would be needed for something like this that even basic feature phones already use in some manner.

As far as Apple goes, there’s no motion to change the system. They blend in with the crowd and harm the Free Desktop in the process.

SCO

It’s hard to tell how deeply Microsoft is involved in this, but SCO claims to have gotten some new business.

FCmobilelife is developed by The SCO Group of Lindon, Utah, under an exclusive licensing agreement with FranklinCovey. Together, the companies have worked with AT&T to ensure certification of FCmobilelife on its mobile network.

This isn’t the only recent deal and Tony Lawrence suggests that there are still some SCO deployments there. But for how long?

I had a call from an old SCO Unix customer this week. There aren’t many of those old systems left now – more than you’d probably think, more than there should be, but far less than there were just a few years back. I think you still have a good chance of finding a few SCO boxes in any city, but it’s getting harder..

SCO is still desperate to buy some time with those Linux lawsuits, which are its main ‘export’. Groklaw has covered this closely over the past few days. Chronologically:

1. SCO’s Reply to Novell’s Objection to 3rd Extension, as text, & a 10Q Reality Check

Guess why SCO says it hasn’t been able to file a workable reorganization plan so far? No. Really. Guess.

In SCO’s just filed Debtors’ Reply to Novell’s Response to Debtors’ Third Motion to Extend Exclusivity [PDF], SCO says one reason is the turmoil in the financial markets. There currently is no deal with Stephen Norris Capital Partners. But SCO needs more time, because there could be someday. “Despite the declining economic climate, Messrs. Norris and Robbins continue to work with the Debtors to pursue a transaction.” So, we just need to be patient. Norris is flying to the Middle East shortly and they’ve had meetings in London and Paris, but investors are nervous, we learn, due to the current turmoil in the markets, and they feel they’d like more legal certainty in this picture first. Like a definite date for SCO to file an appeal.

Ah. Do hold your breath, SCO. Do.

2. SCO Makes Its Move in Utah: Asks to Waive Claims, Get Final Judgment

SCO has filed a notice asking the Utah District Court to dismiss its stayed claims and issue a final judgment with respect to both the August 10, 2007 and the July 16th, 2008 orders, so SCO can appeal right now. It points out that Novell was told to file a final judgment, and it hasn’t done so.

This is what Novell told the court SCO was going to do next, and it indicated that it would be responding with its own “Oh, no you don’t” memorandum in opposition pronto. Novell explained to the court that it believes final judgment is premature, since the arbitration is still pending and was stayed by the bankruptcy, something SUSE asked the court to lift so it could proceed in the arbitration, but which SCO opposed.

3. SCO Gets Almost What It Asked For From Bankruptcy Court: Extension to End of Year & Stock Options

So, the hearing minutes [PDF] from today’s bankruptcy hearing are posted, and it appears (comparing it with the Notice of Agenda) that SCO got an extension to the end of the year to exclusively file a reorganization plan,

SCO seems like history, but Microsoft (or ilk) appears to be moving from copyrights threats to copyrights assaults, then to patent threats. Guess what’s next? It’s just like the Halloween documents showed. According to Pamela Jones, Microsoft is the next SCO Group and she also says that Microsoft should be treated as though it's already suing Free software (with or without Intellectual Ventures and other patent trolls like Acacia, which attacked Free software last year [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]).

“Then when they [Intellectual Ventures] own all the patents, the 99.99% of the rest of us just fix the law.. so let’s hold up a little longer. “

Jose_X

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