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

09.09.09

Microsoft Wants to Attack Linux Using Patents, via Proxies/Trolls — Claim

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Kernel, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”

Bruce Perens

Summary: OIN scoops up Microsoft patents that were put up for grabs (potentially by patent trolls); similarity to Intellectual Ventures seen

THERE ARE quite a few patent trolls that are associated with Microsoft. For Microsoft, this is a convenience because its rivals suffer from such trolls.

An interesting and highly-cited report from the Wall Street Journal shows that OIN has just acquired ‘anti-Linux’ patents that Microsoft put up for sale. To give some background:

Microsoft Corp. has suggested in recent years that companies using the Linux computer-operating system might be violating Microsoft patents. Now, in an effort to avert any legal threat that might discourage the adoption of Linux, a group of Microsoft rivals is about to acquire a set of patents formerly owned by the software giant.

This article lacks sufficient interpretation of what might be happening here. To quote The Inquirer:

Their plan is to avert legal threats that might discourage the adoption of Linux by buying up a set of 22 patents formerly owned by Microsoft.

But that’s not the whole story. As Groklaw puts it:

Microsoft tried to auction off some patents that they claim relate to Linux. Patent trolls could have bought them. Instead Open Invention Network (OIN) got them. Why would Microsoft wish to get rid of 22 patents that it presumably could sue Linux over? Let’s try to imagine what might have happened.

Let’s pretend you are Microsoft, and you want to be evil. Of course, Microsoft never would be. They are internationally known for fair dealing with all their competition, particularly Linux. But let’s pretend.

OK. So you are Evil Microsoft and you decide it’s too difficult and dangerous to sue Linux yourself. Antitrust annoyances, counterclaims, and PR and all that. What to do with that patent portfolio to really cause trouble for Linux, without having your fingerprints all over it?

Eureka! You could sell the patents to patent trolls, and let *them* be the bad guys. Is that not perfect if you are evil? Not that Microsoft would ever be evil. We all know there is a New Microsoft in the land.

There is some other coverage out there, including some from the 451 Group, which adds:

If true it won’t be the first time the OIN has acquired patents in the name of protecting Linux: it was formed for that purpose and it previously did so in 2006, and also last month launched its Distinguished Inventors Patent Acquisition program to acquire patents from individual inventors.

The fact that these patents were previously owned by Microsoft adds a twist to the tale, however. The WSJ cites Dave Kaefer, general manager for intellectual-property licensing at Microsoft, as saying that the patents were acquired from Silicon Graphics and were sold because they weren’t strategic to the company.

Those newly-acquired patents may not do much to ‘protect’ as there are many software patents out there. Had IBM not lobbied for software patents [1, 2] (there is now some coverage of this in TechDirt), it would have been possible to eliminate this problem altogether, at its root. IBM has a lot of influence in this area and it is misusing that position of power.

Meanwhile, to quote David Gerard’s summary, Microsoft has Intellectual Ventures run a “Patent Protection Racket.” Yes, he calls it “protection racket”, just as Mike Masnick called it a “pyramid scheme” and his colleague Tim Lee explains how it all works.

Until recently, one of the few points Myhrvold could make in his own favor is that he hadn’t started suing firms that declined to license his patent portfolio. I say “until recently” because we’re now learning that the lawsuits have started. IV has begun selling off chunks of its patent portfolio to people like Raymond Niro with well-deserved reputations for being “patent trolls.” Threatening to sell patents to a third party who will sue you is more subtle than threatening to sue you directly, but the threat is just as potent. Myhrvold’s “sales pitch” to prospective licensees just got a lot more convincing.

The fundamental question we should be asking about this business strategy is how it benefits anyone other than Myhrvold and the patent bar. Remember that the standard policy argument for patents is that they incentivize beneficial research and development. Yet IV’s business model is based on the opposite premise: produce no innovative products, spend minimal amounts on research and development, and make a profit by compelling firms that are producing products and investing in R&D to pay up. Not only does this enrich Myhrvold at everyone else’s expense, but it also reduces the incentive to innovate, because anyone who produces an innovative product is forced to share his profits with Intellectual Ventures. Patents are supposed to make innovation more profitable. Myhrvold is using the patent system in a way that does just the opposite. In thinking about how to reform the patent system, a good yardstick would be to look for policy changes that would tend to put Myhrvold and his firm out of business.

Nathan Myhrvold and Bill Gates actually did innovate; they invented large-scale patent racketeering. As we’ve shown at the start, Microsoft too is seemingly using the same methods as Nathan Myhrvold/Intellectual Ventures, in order to extort Linux.

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

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

What Else is New


  1. Criticism of Unitary Patent (UPC) Agreement Doomed the UPC and Patent Trolls' Plan -- Along With the Litigation Lobby -- for Unified 'Extortion Vector'

    The Unitary Patent or Unified Patent Court (UPC) was the trolls' weapon against potentially millions of European businesses; but those businesses have woken up to the fact that it was against their interests and European member states such as Spain and Poland now oppose it while Germany halts ratification



  2. It Wasn't Judges With Weapons in Their Office, It Was Benoît Battistelli Who Brought Firearms to the European Patent Office (EPO)

    The EPO scandals deepen in light of a very major scandal which has occupied the French media for a couple of months



  3. Links 20/9/2018: 2018 Linux Audio Miniconference and Blackboard's Openwashing

    Links for the day



  4. Links 19/9/2018: Chromebooks Get More DEBs, LLVM 7.0.0 Released

    Links for the day



  5. Links 18/9/2018: Qt 5.12 Alpha , MAAS 2.5.0 Beta, PostgreSQL CoC

    Links for the day



  6. Today's European Patent Office (EPO) Works for Large, Foreign Pharmaceutical Companies in Pursuit of Patents on Nature, Life, and Essential/Basic Drugs

    The never-ending insanity which is patents on DNA/genome/genetics and all sorts of basic things that are put together like a recipe in a restaurant; patents are no longer covering actual machinery that accomplishes unique tasks in complicated ways, typically assembled from scratch by humans; some supposed 'inventions' are merely born into existence by the natural splitting of organisms or conception (e.g. pregnancy)



  7. The EPO Has Quit Pretending That It Cares About Patent Quality, All It Cares About is Quantity of Lawsuits

    A new interview with Roberta Romano-Götsch, as well as the EPO's promotion of software patents alongside CIPA (Team UPC), is an indication that the EPO has ceased caring about quality and hardly even pretends to care anymore



  8. Qualcomm's Escalating Patent Wars Have Already Caused Massive Buybacks (Loss of Reserves) and Loss of Massive Clients

    Qualcomm's multi-continental patent battles are an effort to 'shock and awe' everyone into its protection racket; but the unintended effect seems to be a move further and further away from 'Qualcomm territories'



  9. Links 17/9/2018: Torvalds Takes a Break, SQLite 3.25.0 Released

    Links for the day



  10. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Helps Prevent Frivolous Software Patent Lawsuits

    PTAB with its quality-improving inter partes reviews (IPRs) is enraging patent maximalists; but by looking to work around it or weaken it they will simply reduce the confidence associated with US patents



  11. Abstract Patents (Things One Can Do With Pen and Paper, Sometimes an Abacus) Are a Waste of Money as Courts Disregard Them

    A quick roundup of patents and lawsuits at the heart of which there's little or no substance; 35 U.S.C. § 101 renders these moot



  12. “Blockchain” Hype and “FinTech”-Like Buzzwords Usher in Software Patents Everywhere, Even Where Such Patents Are Obviously Bunk

    Not only the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) embraces the "blockchain" hype; business methods and algorithms are being granted patent 'protection' (exclusivity) which would likely be disputed by the courts (if that ever reaches the courts)



  13. Qualcomm's Patent Aggression Threatens Rationality of Patent Scope in Europe and Elsewhere

    Qualcomm's dependence on patent taxes (so-called 'royalties' associated with physical devices which it doesn't even make) highlights the dangers now known; the patent thicket has grown too "thick"



  14. Months After Oil States the Patent Maximalists Are Still Desperate to Crush PTAB in the Courts, Not Just in Congress and the Office

    Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs) improve patent quality and are therefore a threat to those who profit from spurious feuding and litigation; they try anything they can to turn things around



  15. IAM, Watchtroll and the EPO Still Spread the Mentality of Patent Maximalism

    The misguided idea that the objective (overall) should be to grant as many monopolies as possible (to spur a lot of litigation) isn't being challenged in echo chamber 'events', set up and sponsored by think tanks and pressure groups of the litigation 'industry'



  16. Watchtroll and Other Proponents of Patent Trolls Are Trying to Change the Law Outside the Courts in Order to Bypass Patent Justice

    35 U.S.C. § 101 (Section 101) voids almost every software patent — a reality that even the most zealous patent professionals have come to grips with and their way of tackling this ‘problem’ is legislative, albeit nowhere near successful (so far)



  17. Links 16/9/2018: Windows Plays 'Nice' Again, Elisa Music Player 0.3 Beta and Latte Dock 0.8.1

    Links for the day



  18. Slamming Courts and Judges Won't Help the Patent Maximalists; It Can Only Make Things Worse

    Acorda Therapeutics sees its stock price dropping 25% after finding out that its patent portfolio isn't solid, as affirmed by the Federal Circuitn(CAFC); the only way out of this mess is a pursuit of a vastly improved patent quality, thorough patent examination which then offers legal certainty



  19. Patent Trolls Are Still Active and Microsoft is Closely Connected to Many of Them

    A roundup of patent trolls' actions in the United States; Microsoft is connected to a notably high number of these



  20. Advancements in Automobile Technology Won't be Possible With Patent Maximalism

    Advancements in the development of vehicles are being discouraged by a thicket of patents as dumb (and likely invalid) as claims on algorithms and mere shapes



  21. Battistelli “Has Deeply Hurt the Whole Patent Profession, Examiners as Well as Agents” and Also the Image of France

    A French perspective regarding Battistelli's reign at the EPO, which has not really ended but manifests itself or 'metastasises' through colleagues of Battistelli (whom he chose) and another French President (whom he also chose)



  22. António Campinos Needs to Listen to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) et al to Salvage What's Left of Public Consent for the EPO

    Groups including Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Médecins du Monde (MdM) have attempted to explain to the EPO, with notoriously French-dominated leadership, that it’s a mistake to work for Gilead at the expense of the public; but António Campinos is just another patent maximalist



  23. The Max Planck Institute's Determination on UPC's (Unitary Patent) Demise is Only “Controversial” in the Eyes of Rabid Members of Team UPC

    Bristows keeps lying like Battistelli; that it calls a new paper "controversial" without providing any evidence of a controversy says a lot about Bristows LLP, both as a firm and the individuals who make up the firm (they would not be honest with their clients, either)



  24. Links 15/9/2018: Wine 3.16, Overwatch's GNU/Linux (Wine) 'Ban', New Fedora 28 Build, and Fedora 29 Beta Delay

    Links for the day



  25. Max Planck Institute Pours More Water on the Dying Unitary Patent (UPC)

    The Max Planck Institute gives another sobering reality check for Team UPC to chew on; there's still no sign of any progress whatsoever for the UPC because even Team UPC appears to have given up and moved on



  26. EPO Seals Many Death Sentences With Acceptance of EP 2604620

    Very disappointing news as EP 2604620 withstands scrutiny, assuring that a lot of poor people will not receive much-needed, life-saving treatments



  27. Links 13/9/2018: Compiz Comeback, 'Life is Strange: Before the Storm'

    Links for the day



  28. Now We Have Patents on Rooms. Yes, Rooms!

    The shallow level of what nowadays constitutes "innovation" and merits getting a patent for a couple of decades



  29. EPO Granted a Controversial European Patent (Under Battistelli) Which May Literally Kill a Lot of People

    The EPO (together with CIPA) keeps promoting software patents; patents that are being granted by the EPO literally put lives at risk and have probably already cost a lot of lives



  30. Links 13/9/2018: Parrot 4.2.2, Sailfish OS Nurmonjoki, Eelo Beta

    Links for the day


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