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02.07.10

Patents Roundup: Extortion, Protection Rackets, Patent Trolling, and Small Victory for Mozilla

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents at 7:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Construction plan

Summary: Johnson and Johnson’s multi-billion-dollar patent fine, patents’ harms to real science and life, patent trolls thrive, and Mozilla’s opposition to patent-encumbered codecs gradually pays off

THIS roundup comprises mostly snippets, due to time constraints.

Boston Scientific to Pay J&J $1.73B to Settle Stent Patent Disputes

Boston Scientific Corp. said Monday it would pay Johnson & Johnson a hefty $1.73 billion to end more disputes in long-running legal battles over patents for heart stents.

How Patents Harm Biotech Innovation

Patent defenders often claim that patents are necessary because top venture capitalists would never invest without patents. And yet, we keep pointing to examples of some of the best venture capitalists in the business who are quite skeptical of patents.

It is worth remembering that the Gates Foundation invests in the patents of these companies, apparently for big money like $1,730,000,000 to be won.

Do Patents Slow Down Innovation?

I’m still obsessed with my mission to “abolish software patents” especially after receiving yet another email from a new startup that claims to be a “Patent Insurance Company.” A number of these have popped up recently in the past few years, including several that are funded by VCs. Their pitch is that you pay them an annual fee, license any patents you have to them, and they will “protect you” against any patent litigation. Whenever I hear this pitch, all I can think about is Al Capone walking the streets of Chicago going door to door offering “protection” to all of the local businessmen if they will pay his vig every week.

See what we wrote about RPX [1, 2, 3] and Intellectual Ventures. They are two rackets of this kind.

Non-Practicing Patent Holders Winning Bigger And Bigger Awards — And Why They Like East Texas

It’s no secret that many non-practicing entities (i.e., patent holders who do not actually build anything, but just try to license their patent or sue others for infringement) tend to prefer jury trials. It’s well-known that juries, who have been fed years of misleading (and sometimes blatantly false) stories of the mythic “sole inventor,” are extremely sympathetic to stories of big bad companies “stealing” ideas from lone inventors.

China (Hearts) Royalty-Free Standards?

The royalty-free option is exactly what free software needs, and what patent holders have been fighting against so hard in the West (nominal fee is still problematic, though).

Oh, What a Lovely Standards War

You know something big must be afoot when people start to get worked up over video compression standards. Basically, the issue is whether the current de facto standard, H.264, will continue to dominate this field, and if not, what might take over.

[...]

The key point here is that Mozilla’s stubbornness on this issue has *already* made a difference – a financial difference in this case. It demonstrates that Mozilla was right to be stubborn, and shows why it is right to stand up for the Open Web wherever it may be threatened. Moreover, this provides yet another demonstration of the fact that you don’t have to believe in free software’s principles to benefit from its victories: you get them to share in them anyway.

Other stories about this are/were mostly included in the daily links at Boycott Novell

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