Summary: An analysis of what makes Amazon unique in the eyes of Microsoft and its patent trolls; why the Interval Licensing case is unlikely to be settled, just like i4i’s
SOFTWARE patentor Amazon was not sued by Microsoft co-founder, who used his patent troll to sue just about every large Internet company [1, 2, 3]. How come? Well, Amazon and Microsoft are neighbours and Amazon has been getting occupied by former Microsoft employees at the highest levels (no wonder Amazon is now paying Microsoft for GNU/Linux, even for Red Hat servers). Writers are mystified by the fact that Interval did not take on Amazon. At Groklaw, for instance, Pamela Jones’ initial reaction was: “He isn’t suing Microsoft or Amazon. He is suing in addition Facebook, AOL, eBay, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube. Because a billion or more is never enough.”
It is similar to what several other people have said, including this blogger:
Allen is one of the world’s richest people, with a fortune that Forbes magazine estimates as over $13 billion.
“This is yet another example of the cynical use of the American legal system to extort money out of successful companies — in the name of protecting innovation and innovators. Shame on Paul Allen for being part of it,” wrote a blogger at the Web site of Forbes Magazine about this almost classic act of patent trolling. It should not be surprising that Microsoft Florian decided to “redefine open standards, redefine troll, redefine democracy,” according to the FFII, which responds to Florian’s latest posts which defends the indefinsible. “Why Paul Allen doesn’t want to be a troll” is the title of that post.
David Kappos recently said that the patent office he runs actually creates jobs. Jones, a paralegal by trade, begged to differ at the time and now she says: “Don’t anyone ever again tell me that patents stimulate the economy and create jobs. They line the pockets of a few, while killing off creative endeavors by everyone else. What jobs are these patents creating? What jobs do any patent trolls’ patents create? Jobs for lawyers, but really, who else?”
Here is another article Jones found about Amazon being excluded from the massive lawsuit (it covers Facebook, which is partly owned by Microsoft):
Patent lawsuit du jour: Paul Allen versus the world (but not Microsoft or Amazon)
Fortunately, those companies also can afford the legal bills. That may not be the case for many smaller Web sites. So at what point will the chief executives of America take a break from complaining about the “uncertainty” of Washington economic policy to notice the massive uncertainty created by an out-of-control patent system?
A settlement is said not to be likely.
Final point: The vast majority of patent cases settle. Here, however, all of the parties have large amounts of cash-on-hand. In addition, some of the defendants are repeat patent infringement defendants. Those factors tend to make settlement less likely.
i4i is not willing to settle, either. Its people want to bar Microsoft. But Microsoft won’t leave them alone until they run out of money, apparently. Might it reach SCOTUS?
Microsoft has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a $290 million patent ruling in a long-running dispute with i4i Inc. of Toronto over the use of technology known as custom XML in Microsoft Word.
i4i is not a patent troll. Fortunately for us, despite its pro-software patents policy it is causing a lot of damage to Microsoft Office and to OOXML. Microsoft should be sued like this a lot more frequently; maybe then it will decide that software patents are no longer its friend. █