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08.30.10

Paul Allen’s Patent Troll Obviously Did Not Sue Microsoft, But Why Did Amazon Get a Free Pass?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 10:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bezos gives lecture

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.

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9 Comments

  1. gnufreex said,

    August 30, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Gravatar

    If I had to guess, I would say that Allen wants to prove a point: `If you want to be in IT industry, you have to pay royalty to Microsoft’

    One quote by some Microsoftie regarding competition: “We have to whack them, to make them understand our value.”

    Novell and Amzon already payed, so he is leaving them alone. I think he also left out Salesforce.com and other Microsoft tools.

    -Redmond delenda est
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carthago_delenda_est

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    You know what might be helpful? Let’s compile a list of the hundreds of companies that cross-license with Microsoft. Among Facebook, AOL, eBay, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo and YouTube (Google), none that I know of cross-licenses with Microsoft and they are all US-based — that’s where software patents are valid.

    gnufreex Reply:

    That’s good idea. I think Facebook is spreading SilverBlight, but don’t have patent deal with M$FT. Others don’t too.

    IBM have a deal, and it is not sued by Allen. Oracle has a deal because Sun had. Samsung has Microsoft deal…. HP too (they are even managed by Microsofties). VMware is managed by Microsofties, but I don’t think it has a patent deal, Red Hat is protected by the OIN and probably Allen don’t have a patent that might hit them. Canonical too, and it is too small fish… and Canonical helps Microsoft with Mono.

    HTC has Microsoft deal….

    I think there is some other common denominator we are missing. He didn’t sue exactly every Microsoft competitor that is not paying privilege to Microsoft. What else those companies have in common? Maybe the fact they are all into Cloud Computing. Maybe they all use FOSS in some part of their infrastructure, or they depend on Microsoft and still use some competing technology.

    Stales is full of Microsoft advocates and Windows devotees, it doesn’t make sense to sue them…

    Just thinking out loud.

    gnufreex Reply:

    That should say Staples, not Stales.

    twitter Reply:

    Microsoft betrays everyone, so action against Staples and Office Depot are not too surprising. Perhaps the companies were not making Microsoft enough money and the company decided to shake them down like so many other Windows vendors. The exception of importance is Microsoft, which proves Allen’s continuing affiliation.

    I’m enjoying the sudden outbreak of common sense that the suit is creating. Pretty soon, everyone will realize that software patents should be eliminated.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Let’s not forget Apple’s role in this whole M.A.D.ness (including investment in the world’s largest patent troll, IV).

    As I wrote in identi.ca just minutes ago, Paul Allen and Steve Jobs show that life-threatening disease can make predators out of humans rather than make them compassionate.

  2. The Mad Hatter said,

    August 30, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Gravatar

    Even Gene Quinn who is very pro-patent thinks that Paul Allen is a patent troll.

    Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Sues Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Others for Patent Infringement

    Gene and I are usually on different ends of most issues, but not this time.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, I was about to point this out in tomorrow’s post.

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