Summary: TiVo’s shift to a strategy of patent litigation is not paying off, patent trolling becomes common, Microsoft rides the wave
TiVo is known for pioneering the practice of “Tivoization”, which prevents running code on particular machines if that code is modified. Tivoization was one of the reasons for making the third version of the GPL. TiVo is a notable user of Linux, but just using the code does not make TiVo a friendly company. In fact, as we have shown many time before (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), TiVo is a patent aggressor.
According to this summary from TechDirt, TiVo’s strategy as a patent aggressor is not working out.
TiVo has been spending a lot of effort suing others for patent infringement, but apparently not very much on actually improving their own services and giving customers a reason to buy them over the competition. So while it may be winning some of its patent lawsuits, it hasn’t helped much for the business, which is rapidly bleeding customers and losing marketshare.
Incidentally, TechDirt has also just written about law practices that turn to patent trolling.
From an economic standpoint, this activity is a pure dead weight loss on economic activity. There is nothing good that comes from it. You basically have companies that have ignored a patent they got for whatever reason, suddenly rediscovering it and using it to go after totally unrelated companies who actually innovated and brought products to market (almost always with no knowledge whatsoever of the questionable patent in the first place). And suddenly the actual innovators have to pay up to a company that did absolutely nothing with the invention.
This is in complete contradiction to the goals of the patent office. And watch what Microsoft is doing right now, looking for a patent on Fog Computing.
Microsoft has filed a patent to lock-down a method for moving data between different “clouds.”
‘“Other than Bill Gates, I don’t know of any high tech CEO that sits down to review the company’s IP portfolio” —Marshall Phelps