09.03.09

Gemini version available ♊︎

Microsoft Has the World’s Biggest Patent Troll, But What’s Up with Google?

Posted in Google, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 6:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: Intellectual Ventures exposed for what it really is about; Google patents its homepage

EARLIER TODAY WE HIGHLIGHTED THE LATEST report about Microsoft's patent troll, Intellectual Ventures.

Blog reports about this are numerous and they may have been sort of derived from this article (published on Tuesday).

Patent-hoarding giant Intellectual Ventures has long beat the drum that it doesn’t file lawsuits.

But now Intellectual Ventures has started selling some of its 27,000 patents to people who aren’t afraid to sue — and in some cases IV will get a share of the prize. It’s a scary scenario for tech companies that may end up in the legal crosshairs, but industry observers say it was only a matter of time.

[...]

It’s a new phase for Intellectual Ventures, which was founded in 2001 by Microsoft Corp.’s top tech guys, Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung. At first, the company took investments (about $5 billion) and bought up patents (now up to 27,000). In more recent years, IV has been cutting licensing deals with big tech companies that are apparently infringing on some of IV’s intellectual property. Intuit Inc., the financial software firm, agreed to pay $120 million for a license in May. Detkin says that IV has brought in about $1 billion in revenue this way. And he and others at IV like to point out that they’ve never once used the cudgel of a patent infringement lawsuit to get a deal done.

With its new practice of selling off patents to third parties, litigation is much more likely. It’s similar to the “catch and release” model used for some time by other patent-holding companies. That’s a friendly sounding name for a threat that goes like this: Take a license because we’re going to sell the patent on the open market — and you never know what unscrupulous and lawsuit-prone troll is going to buy it.

This is the sort of business plan which was conceived by and came about after consultation with Bill Gates, who has his own share in this game. Bernard Swiss describes it as a situation of: “We’ll feed the problem — and profit from it… But we’ll foist the actual risk on to others”

Microsoft’s patent strategy must not be ignored, but the main news today is actually not about Microsoft’s patent hoarding and trolling; it’s about Google’s latest bizarre patent.

In early 2004, Google’s lawyers didn’t have nearly enough to do. A patent on the design of Google’s homepage (AKA its “[g]raphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal”) that they applied for at that time was granted this week.

FFII’s president opines that “There is a need for more patent trolls against Google. They have too much money, and they have too stupid patent agents.” He links to this article which makes is clear that it’s trouble for all in the search market.

As one person puts it, “these new guidelines of the USPTO are apparently still very generous, as the PTO has just granted what seems to be patent on Google’s homepage.”

Over at TechDirt, we find that “look and feel” can now be guarded too using intellectual monopolies. It’s just like that Google homepage patent, where the ‘novelty’ of centering a search box is seen as patent worthy.

There are already concerns over the fact that software can be covered by both copyright and patents, but why not add trade dress to the mix? Via Michael Scott we learn that Fidelity is suing a competing company because its software looks like Fidelity’s, and that the basic look and feel of Fidelity’s software is protected by trade dress.

Where does it ever stop? The double-click is a patent, one-click shopping is a patent, and the progress bar too is a patent. As these two videos show [1, 2], Google does not oppose patents; It is even a member of OIN, which is about countering patents with more patents.

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

4 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    September 3, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Gravatar

    Yep, here is a quote from saying that Google’s sinple home page design was pure accident:

    But the original home-page design was dumb luck. In 1998, founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were consumed with writing code for their engine. Brin just wanted to hack together something to send queries to the back end, where the cool technology resided. Google didn’t have a Web master, and Brin didn’t do HTML. So he designed as little as he could get away with.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    September 3, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Gravatar

    BTW, sorry for those who did not see my link, unfortunately the way I insert URLs using angle brackets don’t seem to be working well on BN:
    http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/100/beauty-of-simplicity.html

    FFII’s president opines that “There is a need for more patent trolls against Google. They have too much money, and they have too stupid patent agents.”

    Here is another post on the Patently-O blog on Google and patent reform (the exact same blog that has the post that claimed that Google would be harmed if software patents were banned):
    http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/03/guest-post-patent-reform-needed-more-than-ever.html
    Also consider that as mentioned before Google don’t use it’s software patents offensively much if at all, let along would be harmed if it was banned.
    That blog even have a post on exactly this patent:
    http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/09/googles-patent-on-its-googlecom-home-page.html

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Also consider that as mentioned before Google don’t use it’s software patents offensively much if at all

    That’s what they all say (Red Hat included), but promises are not a legal contact and acquisitions/liquidations change everything.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Not that Google’s patents will be sold or liquidated anytime soon (in fact, likely not for a long time), but yes in general you have to be careful.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 03/07/2022: China 'Rallies Support for Kylin Linux' and SparkyLinux 4 EOL

    Links for the day



  2. Global Dynamics of the Demise of Microsoft Windows (Now Down to 27%)

    The situation of Windows' "share" (however subjective any measure would be) is grim; despite a "new" release of Windows, as recently as several months ago, "market share" decreases fast



  3. Francisca Pacheco López on Richard Stallman

    A letter from Madrid, posted a few days ago



  4. The World Wide Web is Not Growing, Gemini Does

    The Web, which is over 30 years old, peaked quite a few years ago; it's increasingly just a conduit of traffic unrelated to actual pages (articles, blogs) and just a vehicle for "apps", which are in turn centralised or closely guarded by few companies and very few governments (public communication is not their goal, manipulation and social control are the principal objectives)



  5. Links 03/07/2022: GNU/Linux Steam Surge, GitHub Breaks the Law

    Links for the day



  6. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 02, 2022

    IRC logs for Saturday, July 02, 2022



  7. Flooz on a Blockchain

    Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission



  8. Links 02/07/2022: Debian 9 (Stretch) EOL, FocusWriter 1.8.1, and Darktable 4.0

    Links for the day



  9. After Freenode's Demise It's OFTC That's Gaining in IRC, Not Libera.Chat

    IRC 12 months after the dust 'settled'



  10. Finland Turns 18

    This summer in Finland there seem to be changes



  11. Copyleft is Still Better and More Suitable for Business

    Copyleft does not mean one cannot make money; it just means proprietary software companies such as Microsoft stand to lose their dying empires, only to be replaced by new businesses that market and support GPL-licensed systems



  12. With New Data Just in (a Couple of Hours Ago), It Seems Clear Microsoft Windows Continues to Lose Market Share in July

    As shown above, Windows continues its demise; there’s also rapid erosion of Windows "market share" in Russia this year (“Russians [are] switching to Linux”) and sooner or later Windows will be just a quarter of the market (maybe by year’s end). Windows is at 10% in Turkey (down by a huge amount this year) and in Russia it’s down by about 5% since the war. In India GNU/Linux (“proper”, not ChromeOS) is up to nearly 5% of desktops/laptops.



  13. Links 02/07/2022: PSPP 1.6.2 Released, Linux Mint Rejects Parts of Systemd, Lots of Politics

    Links for the day



  14. Walking Like the Talking, Acting Like One's Preaching

    It has now been about 2 years since lock-downs in the world's Western nations were first loosened or lifted; we've thankfully taken advantage of all that commotion (persistent flux; we've not solved the underlying issues) to expand beyond and Web and become self-hosted wherever possible



  15. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 01, 2022

    IRC logs for Friday, July 01, 2022



  16. EPO Steering Off the Road, Just Like the Drunken Son of António Campinos, Who Crashed the Car and Begged for Impunity

    With the EPO rapidly turning into a corrupt dynasty of rogue politicians, lawyers and bankers (not scientists) we must turn to constitutions and treaties that they knowingly violate with impunity



  17. Koch Operatives Working to Shape Patent Law in Favour of Monopolies and Oligarchs

    Patent systems are being hijacked by monopolists and plutocrats for their financial gain and protectionism; it's a longstanding issue because it begets constitutional violations (glossed over by bought or installed "Justices", which is another creeping threat, especially in light of recent developments in the US Supreme Court and patently, manifestly illegal actions by Team UPC)



  18. At the EPO, “Online” Means Microsoft Windows Only (“Unitary Patent” Also Limited to Microsoft Customers!)

    The EPO's "special" (corrupt) relationship with Microsoft is a major liability for Europe; does one need to adopt back doors and US surveillance to interact with the EPO?



  19. Microsoft GitHub Exposé — Part XXII — 'Mr. GitHub Copilot' Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley Pleads Guilty After Assaulting Women

    Balabhadra (Alex) Graveley from Microsoft GitHub (the man behind the GPL violation machine called “Copilot”) has “pled guilty to get deferred sentence”



  20. Links 01/07/2022: Russians Switching to GNU/Linux, New WINE Release

    Links for the day



  21. Links 01/07/2022: More Widespread Calls to Delete GitHub

    Links for the day



  22. [Meme] President Crybaby

    EPO President António Campinos, who constantly assaults the EPO’s staff, has portrayed himself as a poor victim of “hostile” staff (reversal of narratives)



  23. People Are Very Angry That Campinos Was Left in Positions of Power Without Any Competition and in Spite of Failing to Fulfill Essential Goals

    As predicted, people are infuriated by the decision of the Administrative Council to give Campinos several more years to destroy the EPO and its reputation (while moreover pushing a totally illegal and unconstitutional patent court system, which severely harms the image of the European Union)



  24. Microsoft Windows is a 'Burning Platform' (Both on the Server Side and the Client Side)

    'Burning platform' is a derogatory term from Microsoft's Elop; ironically, today's 'burning platform' is actually Windows, even if the corporate media isn't talking about that



  25. Links 01/07/2022: Nitrux 2.2.1 and Raspberry Pi Pico W Chatter

    Links for the day



  26. Links 01/07/2022: Wayland 1.21.0 and SteamOS 3.3 Beta

    Links for the day



  27. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, June 30, 2022

    IRC logs for Thursday, June 30, 2022



  28. [Meme] EPO Election (Auction)

    The corruption at the EPO did not end with Benoît Battistelli‘s departure; it’s still deepening



  29. Links 01/07/2022: Condres OS 1.0 and Microsoft Losing More Share in Web Servers

    Links for the day



  30. Published 10 Minutes Ago: IRCNow by Aaron Lin

    This talk was uploaded moments ago. “Of the users, by the users, for the users…”


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

Recent Posts