01.10.10

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Estimation: 30% of IT Patent Lawsuits Come from Patent Trolls, Microsoft Continues to Evade Patent Law (i4i)

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Software patents have been nothing but trouble for innovation. We the software engineers know this, yet we actually have full-blown posters in our break-room showcasing the individual engineers who came up with something we were able to push through the USPTO. Individually, we pretty much all consider the software-patent showcase poster to be a colossal joke.” —Kelledin, PLI: State Street Overruled… PERIOD

Summary: Patent trolling and the scale of impact shown; Microsoft won’t let go in the i4i case; a call for Europeans to fight against software patents by signing a petition

“New online site has found that 30 percent of all IT suits are initiated by patent trolls,” says President of the FFII, who points to this article from David Worthington (the man who had met Microsoft before spinning for them [1, 2].

David Worthington over at Technologizer wrote today, he got a sneak peak at the new system, and the results are telling. In the post, Lemley tells Worthington that his research using the new online site has found that 30 percent of all IT suits are initiated by patent trolls.

We mentioned Technologizer after Microsoft had bribed its owner with an expensive Vista 7 laptop whose return Microsoft did not require (some recipients confirmed that they kept the laptops). Anyway, evidence from Technologizer suggests that patent trolls are a real burden to the system. It proves that innovation is being hindered by it rather than promoted.

i4i Versus Microsoft

i4i is not a patent troll and its case against Microsoft we wrote about in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. Microsoft very deliberately infringed i4i’s patents and due to the company’s vanity we find that patents do not apply to Microsoft

Reuters indicates that Microsoft just won’t let i4i win this case, much as Updegrove predicted.

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) on Friday asked for a full panel of judges to review an appeals court decision upholding a $290 million jury verdict against it for infringing a patent held by a small Canadian company.

The world’s largest software company wants all 11 judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles many patent and trademark cases, to review the long-running case against Toronto-based i4i Ltd, in the hope of overturning the original judgment.

This was covered by the Canadian press, CNN, and BusinessWeek. This was also mentioned by the Microsoft booster Gavin Clarke and IDG’s Microsoft “watchers”.

Europe at Stake

The threat of software patents in Europe is increasing. Glyn Moody has just explained why that is and he links to this petition to stop software patents in Europe — a petition which our European readers are encouraged to sign (it takes just one minute, literally).

Particularly valuable is the page with links to dozens of studies demonstrating just how deletorious software patents have been, are and would be.

Parenthetically, UK’s showing compared to other nations is rather dismal at the moment, so you might want to fly the flag by adding your name. It’s a painless process that will take about 30 seconds of your time – a small price to pay for preventing the introduction of the kind of software patent insanity that is observed in the US.

Many people are aware of Microsoft’s lobby for software patents in Europe as well as other continents (ourselves and others — like FFII — are working to expose this). The TomTom incident and the recent attempt of OIN to foil sales of Microsoft patents to patent trolls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] are just part of a broader picture and we are hoping that others become aware that to Microsoft, GNU/Linux is no “spectator sport”. Last week evidence surfaced which shows that EDGI still exists [1, 2]. EDGI was exposed by a chain of internal E-mails which show how Microsoft reacts very selectively to prevent migrations to GNU/Linux in a lot of nations (the EU Commission considered this to be anti-competitive but didn’t do much to prevent it). Other leaked E-mails show that Microsoft summoned a "taskforce" to take GNU/Linux PCs off the shelves of Wal-Mart in 2006. There are over 9,000 other Comes vs Microsoft exhibits that could be mentioned.

We are letting readers know this because we are sometimes seeing people dismissed as “paranoid” if they suggest that Microsoft has something to do with slow adoption of GNU/Linux on the desktop (it’s not as slow as Microsoft tells). Setting information free is important for the goal of spreading the software, at least through education of people, vendors, and other decision-makers.

Microsoft is not the only nuisance when it comes to software patents. IBM is another and Google, which does not protest against the ACTA as it should, continues amassing software patents. Here is the latest example:

theodp writes “CNET reports that Google is ‘musing’ about placing ads in Street View. The search giant reportedly floated the idea in a presentation to marketing and ad agency types in Europe a few months back. So will virtual billboards be popping up in Google Street View? A Google rep said the company had no current plans to put ads in Street View, but you might want to take that with a grain of salt. On Thursday, the USPTO revealed that Google is seeking patent protection for Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising. From the patent application: ‘The street view display server can locate an ad image within the image database and overlay the region of interest with the associated ad image.’ Connect the dots, and it sure sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? Selling the Brooklyn Bridge is a pretty good scam — selling a view of it is even better!”

Signing of petitions against software patents is a necessary action in order to end the issue at its core (policies), as opposed to just targeting companies which lobby for these policies.

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2 Comments

  1. NotZed said,

    January 10, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Gravatar

    I thought it was basic economic theory that monopolies were bad. Even short term ones, it’s like you can’t be a little bit pregnant.

    Although this site focuses on software, this really means all patents retard innovation, intentionally. The burden to society is the cost to ‘pay back’ the inventor. But with so many patents being granted for trivial things, the corruption of the law, and with the accelerating pace of technological development, that cost far outweighs the benefits.

    I’m sure you’ve seen the case study of the steam engine patent. http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/do-patents-encourage-or-hinder-innovation-the-case-of-the-steam-engine/#

    If it is just a political fight, then i’m afraid society will lose. Just look at the very recent history of the banks. Those with the deepest pockets always win in the end, simply because money talks and politicians can be bribed.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    We still have “petitions” to talk with, not bribes. :-)

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