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07.30.10

Microsoft’s Software Patents Lobbyists and Patent Trolls

Posted in Europe, IBM, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, Standard at 2:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Seeing gnomes

Summary: talkstandards.com upsets IBM’s Rob Weir and Microsoft’s patent troll Nathan Myhrvold may not be failing (at extortion) as much as some people assume

A Microsoft lobbyist which we last mentioned in the morning (talkstandards.com) has just caught the attention of IBM’s Rob Weir, who found this new posting about an upcoming “Online Forum” rather objectionable. Weir wrote: “Why not talk about the lack of tension with genuine open standards?”

I told him about talkstandards.com goal’s and he told me: “Don’t like the name. I was thinking of creating a site called “DoStandards””

Talk is cheap. How about real standards? This site’s contributors include Microsoft’s Oliver Bell and Knut Blind, a proponent of patents inside standards.

As a quick recap, talkstandards.com is promoting patents inside standards and it almost always pushes Microsoft’s line. The FFII’s president calls it a Microsoft lobby. But there are worse things than mere lobbyists for software patents; Microsoft has created and groomed Intellectual Ventures (IV), which we last wrote about yesterday because someone claimed that it was failing. Mike Masnick disagrees:

[T]he IRR for a venture fund, especially in the early years, is pretty meaningless. A typical venture fund lasts ten years, and the first few years is when all that money is being invested, and there’s no real returns. On top of that (and, more importantly), the IRR is usually reported based on a totally made up number, which is what the VCs believe their portfolio is valued at, since it doesn’t involve a liquid market. VCs were afraid that publishing such numbers would freak people out, and lead VCs to focus on more short-term investments. I don’t think that’s really happened, but it does appear that the Intellectual Ventures funds represented here (showing IRRs of -73% and -10%) might not really mean anything.

Without knowing the details of what those funds represent, or how long the timeframe is for those funds, it’s difficult to assess what’s really going on. It does look like IV isn’t valuing its first fund very highly any more, and considering it’s Intellectual Ventures I, perhaps you can assume it’s further along in the process. But, in a game where a sudden “home run” can change things quickly (even if we’re talking about patent infringement lawsuits or licensing demands, rather than true venture investments), it’s difficult to make any serious call on the performance just yet.

The software patents machinations are frequently tied to Microsoft. It’s no coincidence because there is a lot at stake for Microsoft, not just Apple (which also invests in Intellectual Ventures to extort and terrify everyone).

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