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

09.03.09

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 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

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.

What Else is New


  1. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: There is More Than One Iceberg Ahead

    "This strategy is not far from when Microsoft talked about "de-commoditizing protocols" in the late 90s, as part of their plans to control, dominate, and end Open Source and Free software."



  2. EPO Cannot Handle Patent Justice With a Backlog of About 10,000 Cases at the Boards of Appeal

    The EPO's long war on judges and on the law has proven to be costly; it's difficult to pretend that the EPO functions like a first-world legal framework



  3. The European Patent Office Increases Surveillance: Can't Get Food Without Being Spied on

    The infamous "War on Cash" has been 'won' at Europe's second-largest institution, where people's diet can now be monitored and indefinitely retained on the system



  4. To GNU/Linux, the Operating System, GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) is Not the Threat. Microsoft is.

    Don't let Microsoft get away with its bogus narration; GNU/Linux is primarily under attack from Microsoft, whereas Software Freedom in general is under attack from many directions



  5. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Has the Full Support of Techrights

    Our support for the FSF is strong enough that we want to occasionally suggest improvements; there are growing frictions designed to isolate the FSF and cause self-restraint/censorship



  6. Why We Support Phoronix (Whereas Some Others Do Not)

    Some people try to characterise Michael Larabel as the 'bad boy' of Linux even though Michael is probably the hardest working Linux journalist out there



  7. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: The Simplest Ways that AI will Change Computing

    "AI is already used to help kill people. We should be cautious, and know that the best rules we come up with (like no doing magic outside the school grounds) won't be followed all the time."



  8. Links 20/8/2019: DragonFlyBSD Developing DSynth

    Links for the day



  9. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Narcissism in The Community

    "Narcissists are drawn to intelligent people. They take great pleasure in attacking, controlling and defeating intelligent people because it makes them feel smarter and more important."



  10. Breaking the Law Has Become the Norm at the European Patent Office

    The European Patent Office’s ongoing practice of destroying critics/whistleblowers and crushing unions, judges, examiners etc. — as well as threats and bribery of the media — ultimately mean a perpetual state of lawlessness that, if it prevails, will let patent trolls raid the European economy and stall innovation



  11. Links 20/8/2019: KMyMoney 5.0.6, Kdenlive 19.08

    Links for the day



  12. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free Software in Education

    "If everyone learns to code, then everyone gains some understanding of how to code in other languages."



  13. Links 19/8/2019: Another Linux 5.3 RC, OpenSUSE's Richard Brown Steps Down, Slackware Creates Patreon Page, Qt 6 Initiated

    Links for the day



  14. Speaking Truth to Monopolies (or How to Write Guest Posts in Techrights)

    We need to have more articles tackling the passage of all power — especially when it comes to software — to few large monopolies that disregard human rights or actively participate in their abolishment in the digital realm



  15. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free as in Speech

    "While a new breed of so-called anarchists campaign against expression that even the state allows, people are also foolishly overplaying the relevance of the state to free speech issues -- as if it's not a freedom issue when a project is increasingly thought-policed, because the thought-policing isn't on a state level."



  16. Toxic Culture at Microsoft

    Racism, intolerance, sexism and bullying are rampant at Microsoft; but Microsoft would rather deflect/divert/sidetrack to Google and so-called 'GAFA'



  17. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Introduction

    "The FSF isn't just threatened, it will hit a large iceberg in the future that changes it permanently."



  18. Linux Journal and Linux.com Should Have Been Kept Going

    There's apparently no good explanation for the effective shutdown of Linux Journal and Linux.com; London Trust Media Holdings (LTMH), owner of Linux Journal, saw numbers improving and the Linux Foundation, steward of Linux.com, is loaded with money



  19. 2019 Microsoft Glossary

    How Microsoft internally interprets words that it is saying to the public and to the press



  20. 2019 Surveillance Glossary

    Distortion of technical and nontechnical terms in this day and age of '1984'



  21. Openwashing Report: It's Getting Worse, Fast. Everything is Apparently 'Open' Now Even Though It's Actually Proprietary.

    The latest examples (this past week's) of openwashing in the media, ranging from 5G to surveillance



  22. GitHub is a Dagger Inside Free/Open Source Software (FOSS); This is Why Microsoft Bought It

    A year later it seems pretty evident that Microsoft doesn’t like FOSS but is merely trying to control it, e.g. by buying millions of FOSS projects/repositories at the platform level (the above is what the Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin said to Microsoft at their event while antitrust regulators were still assessing the proposed takeover)



  23. Microsoft Grows Within and Eats You From the Inside

    Microsoft entryism and other subversive tactics continue to threaten and sometimes successfully undermine the competition; Microsoft is nowadays doing that to core projects in the Free/Open Source software world



  24. Links 18/8/2019: New KNOPPIX and Emmabuntus Released

    Links for the day



  25. Links 17/8/2019: Unigine 2.9 and Git 2.23

    Links for the day



  26. Computer-Generated Patent Applications Show That Patents and Innovations Are Very Different Things

    The 'cheapening' of the concept of 'inventor' (or 'invention') undermines the whole foundation/basis of the patent system and deep inside patent law firms know it



  27. Concerns About IBM's Commitment to OpenSource.com After the Fall of Linux.com and Linux Journal

    The Web site OpenSource.com is over two decades old; in its current form it's about a decade old and it contains plenty of good articles, but will IBM think so too and, if so, will investment in the site carry on?



  28. Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person

    At age 30 (almost) the Electronic Frontier Foundation still campaigns for privacy; so why does it grant awards to enemies of privacy?



  29. Caturdays and Sundays at Techrights Will Get Busier

    Our plan to spend the weekends writing more articles about Software Freedom; it seems like a high-priority issue



  30. Why Techrights Doesn't Do Social Control Media

    Being managed and censored by platform owners (sometimes their shareholders) isn’t an alluring proposition when a site challenges conformist norms and the status quo; Techrights belongs in a platform of its own


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