Summary: More of the truth about MPEG-LA and how it really operates (through coercion); Apple is becoming more of a legal firm after attacking Linux/Android with a patent lawsuit
ABOUT a month ago, MPEG-LA tried to portray itself as some sort of a cuddly and reasonable entity which is willing to ‘give away’ some ‘rights’ to MPEG; but those who know Sisvel’s army (for example [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]) would possibly associate MPEG-LA with the underworld, maybe with the mafia. ALDI is one of the latest victims despite the fact that it’s a European chain and software patents are invalid in Europe. We have already explained the role Microsoft plays in Europe’s patent law and also the promotion of MPEG-LA. Microsoft cannot simply be ignored.
The president of the FFII has brought to people’s attention this good report from The Prior Art blog, saying that “MPEG-LA’s CEO Larry Horn also heads MobileMedia, a patent troll holding no less than 122 patents bought to Nokia and Sony”; from the original:
This week: A closer at the holding company behind recent suits against smartphone makers Research in Motion, HTC, and, most interestingly, Apple.
What is unusual is who owns MobileMedia: MPEG-LA, the private company that oversees a total of eight patent pools covering important digital video standards—MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 being the most common—used in DVD players and pretty much every other device that supports digital video. Contributors to those pools, whose contents MPEG-LA has licensed to literally hundreds of companies, include Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Sony, and Cisco subsidiary Scientific Atlanta (see full list). MPEG-LA’s CEO Larry Horn also heads MobileMedia.
Even more unusual is that one of the companies targeted in MobileMedia’s initial batch of suits is Apple (the others were BlackBerry maker Research in Motion and HTC). Apple happens to be among the companies that has contributed patents to MPEG-LA patent pools, including those covering the MPEG-4 and the IEEE 1394 (Firewire) standards. That puts Horn in the position of collecting money for Apple on behalf of MPEG-LA while at the same time trying to wring money out of the company on behalf of MobileMedia. Considering the breadth of MobileMedia’s patent claims—the company claims to hold patents relating to all the central functions of “call handling, speed dial functions, database searches, audio download and playback, and still picture and video processing”—it’s easy to imagine that Apple won’t be the last company to wind up on both sides of Larry Horn.
In an interview, Horn told The Prior Art that said he doesn’t see a problem with his dual roles. “We’ve been threading that needle for 14 years,” he says. “[At MPEG-LA], we’ve run eight patent pools. Some companies are owners of patents in one pool and not in another. Some are users—licensees—in one pool, and not in another. Our mission in each pool is to proactively and vigorously license the patents to the market, on behalf of our licensors.”
In other words, MPEG-LA is already in a position in which it sees that some companies getting paid because of their patent rights while it “encouages” other companies to pay up in exchange for those rights. It’s always possible, Horn says, for some overlap to occur.
It is safe to say that Larry Horn is a patent troll because he confirmed this to the author, although he did not use the word “troll” (nobody perceives himself/herself that way). The roundup above also mentions Apple and HTC which are fighting over patents. Apple sued without provocation and it is now signing up more litigators rather than engineers.
Steve Jobs doesn’t skimp on lawyers.
Apple Inc. just added another big, expensive name to the growing list of lawyers engaged in the company’s latest round of patent wars.
Matthew Powers, head of litigation at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in Redwood City, Calif., filed a countersuit for Apple against Kodak last week. In its dispute with Nokia, Apple has already hired Boston’s William Lee, co-managing partner of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. And in its patent offensive against HTC Corp.’s Google phones, Apple is using Kirkland & Ellis top patent lawyer Robert Krupka, from Los Angeles.
Apple — like Microsoft — is increasingly focused on litigation and marketing. Neither company respects ethics in operation or truth in advertising.
The president of the FFII has found another new item “on the patent portfolio of Bellow Bellows, LLC,” which is “a patent troll,” according to him and according to the evidence presented.
M·CAM, Inc. released its Patently Obvious(TM) report today on the patent portfolio held by Bellow Bellows, LLC, a non-operating patent licensing entity. Focused on patents regarding multi-antenna Wireless LAN access point data processing technology, this report identifies potential public-domain alternatives that are available for incorporation into products and services without cost or licensing restriction.
The world’s biggest patent troll is still Nathan Myhrvold, who is funded by Microsoft, Bill Gates, and Apple. These people and companies are therefore proponents of patent trolling*, whether they publicly signal this or not. They just prefer the mega-patent trolls to be on their side and they invest billions of dollars in such trolls. █
“We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
“Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?”
–Steve Jobs, a hypocrite
* Bill Gates created his own patents aggregator, which is like a dormant troll.