07.28.10

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IBM Brags About Software Patents, Just Like Novell

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 4:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sam Palmisano
Photo by Dan Farber

Summary: IBM is a proponent of software patents and it is very proud of its practice of patenting the equivalent of mathematics

EARLIER this year Novell bragged about its number of software patents. It claimed the #1 position based on one criterion and IBM — a proponent of software patentsdoes so too. IBM has an addiction (to patents) and it is not a healthy one. Steve Mills equates patents with invention when he says:

No company has more software patents than we do, so we are the most prolific company in the world in terms of software invention.

Wow. Everyone must be impressed because IBM has many monopolies on algorithms. What do these monopolies mean to software start-ups? According to Pamela Samuelson and a colleague, patents are hardly valuable to start-ups. Patents are a “big boys’ game” (not actual quote) for players like IBM, Microsoft, Nokia, and so forth. Here is what Feld, a venture capitalist, had to say about the study from Samuelson et al.

I was appalled when I started seeing soundbites emerge from at least one of the authors of the paper from weak conclusions buried in the midst of the data. My partner Jason took one of them on when he wrote his post 76% of Venture Capitalists Believe that Software Patents are Important (NOT!) In this post I think Jason does an excellent job of dissecting the data and explaining why this is not only an incorrect conclusion from the data, but a terribly misleading soundbite.

In other news, giant Rambus continues to terrify and to extort the entire industry with patent submarines.

Rambus, a designer of semiconductor chips, won a long-running patent battle with NVIDIA, but that dispute is not the only one the company is involved in – and the upcoming decisions could mean millions in additional revenue.

This week the barring the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that NVIDIA was violating Rambus’ patents for certain kinds of memory controllers. NVIDIA must now come to some agreement with Rambus to pay license fees. If it does not, then the company’s products cannot be imported into the United States.

Rambus is an excellent example of why the patent system is anything but excellent. IBM too could become more like Rambus one day, assuming it has no other sources of revenue (to an extent, IBM already milks the competition’s cows, unless it’s Free/libre). Microsoft has already turned into a patent bully because many of its products fail, so it chooses to rely on royalties (i.e. taxing the competition).

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