EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.29.10

Microsoft’s Patent Offensives, Patent Trolls, and Other Patent Agitators

Posted in Apple, FSF, GNU/Linux, Google, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 7:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I see gnomes

Summary: A roundup of news about software patents with increased focus on the weakness of the patent system and its ill effects on software freedom

HP’s use of GNU/Linux scared Microsoft enough to put the company under “risks” in its SEC filings, warning investors that HP had become a threat. Then HP bought Palm, which used Linux its flagship product. Soon afterwards a Microsoft executive was put in charge of software at HP, Hurd got the boot [1, 2, 3, 4], and Slate saw Vista 7 returning, possibly at the expense of Linux/WebOS. Joseph Tartakoff, a Microsoft booster, was unimpressed by Vista 7 on Slate. He wrote:

Is this the HP Windows 7 Slate? Let’s hope it’s a joke news.cnet.com/8301-31021_3-2… #pcbuzz

BackWeb, which Microsoft paid some money to settle a patent case [1, 2, 3], is now suing IBM and HP:

Looks like IBM and HP have just been hit with patent infringement lawsuits. According to a release, BackWeb Technologies has filed separate lawsuits in the United States District Court in San Francisco, California against IBM and HP, alleging patent infringement.

The patents seems to deal with technology for transmitting information between a remote network and a local computer and distributed client-based data caching systems. BackWeb alleges that IBM’s Tivoli Provisioning Manager and IBM’s recently acquired BigFix products infringe four U.S. patents owned by BackWeb. BackWeb also alleges that HP’s Client Automation product infringes three U.S. patents owned by BackWeb covering methods for transmitting information between a remote network and a local computer.

When it comes to Android, Microsoft has been trying to put a patent tax on it. Dana Blankenhorn provokes a little by suggesting that Google cannot defend Android’s good name although he is not referring to the patents issue. He wrote:

“Don’t be evil” may drive cynics away, but it’s a powerful message many people believe nonetheless.

Google is risking nothing less than its brand through its passivity over Android. Carriers have hijacked the mobile Linux distro and turned it decidedly evil, sometimes even preventing buyers from accessing Google without jailbreaking their phones.

CEO Eric Schmidt’s response has been completely passive. Were we to restrict the use of the code, we’d be violating the principles of open source, he says.

It is being claimed that Google is now infringing on Yahoo! patents, because of Google Instant [1, 2] (trivial idea, just bandwidth- and server resources-consuming).

Yahoo! owns several patents covering Google’s new Instant search engine, according to Shashi Seth, Yahoo!’s senior vice president of search and a former search product leader at Google.

The Microsoft-dominated Yahoo! was said to be such an issue a couple of years ago. Some sites argued that Microsoft wanted control of Yahoo! only/mostly because of its patents.

The most effective solution right now would be to eliminate software patents. The FSF is working towards that and Stallman campaigned on the issue down in Australia this month [1, 2]. Here is some more coverage about that [1, 2] (the latter is a Slashdot discussion). Stallman carried other messages too, basically about the importance of sharing.

Looking at some patent news from around the Web, here is another update on Newegg’s battle against a notorious software patent [1, 2, 3]. Patent trolls still roam free in land of the free (but with low success rates when it comes to patents in software) and TechDirt has a lot more to say about that:

Digging deeper into the report, it looks at and tests a variety of different concepts around patents and litigation. In theory, if a patent is used in multiple patent cases, you tend to think that it must be a pretty solid patent, and one that has been vetted plenty of times. And yet, when the researchers looked at the 106 patents that have been involved in eight or more lawsuits since 2000, they found that the patent holder wins such cases only 10.7% of the time. For patents that have only been brought to litigation once, the patent holder wins 47.3% of the time — an astounding difference.

My first thought on hearing such numbers is that the data could be misleading in that many companies may be a lot more willing to settle when sued by a serial patent litigator. However, the researchers tested that and while they did find that a higher percentage of those sued will settle in cases involving a “most-litigated” patent as compared to a “once-litigated” patent, the higher settlement rates don’t offset the huge difference in win rates.

[...]

On the whole, the results certainly seem to suggest that patent trolls with software patents do very much view the system as a lottery ticket, and they’re willing to use really weak patents to try to win that prize. That is not at all what the patent system is designed to do, but it’s how the incentives have been structured — and that seems like a pretty big problem that isn’t solved just by showing how many of these lawsuits fail. The amount of time and resources wasted on those lawsuits, as well as the number of companies who pay up without completing a lawsuit, suggest that there is still a major problem to be dealt with.

WIPO is under scrutiny from singing legend Mr. Wonder, who continues to make them look bad, even in the UN. Here is an update on the “pay-for-delay” patent lawsuit, courtesy of TechDirt:

Among the many, many nasty things done in the name of patent law is the rather disgusting practices of “pay-for-delay”, where a big pharma firm sues a generic pharma maker for patent infringement, with no legal basis, and part of the “settlement” that is then worked out is that the big pharma will pay off the generic pharma not to enter the market with a generic for a certain period of time. Basically, it’s a (by definition and government support) monopoly player in the market paying off competitors to keep the market exclusive. It’s difficult to see how that’s not a blatant violation of anti-trust law. But, alas, apparently the Second Circuit doesn’t see it that way. In April it tossed out a lawsuit over this issue, because the pharma companies involved put in a few worthless other things into the deal that acted as “cover” for the real anti-competitive move — and, since the “monopoly” was from a patent, the court didn’t see it as an anti-trust issue.

Apple turns out to have just gone suppressing rivals using a trademark on “Pod”. [via]

The trademark battle centers on independent entrepreneur Daniel Kokin (right), founder of startup Sector Labs, and his in-development video projector called Video Pod. Apple had previously filed oppositions against Kokin’s usage of “Pod,” alleging that it would cause customers to confuse it with Apple’s iPod products.

Apple, which sued Linux via HTC, is also using patents to exclude competitors right now. “Apple sues ‘HyperMac’ accessory maker over MagSafe, iPod cables,” reports Apple Insider:

Apple has filed a lawsuit against Sanho Corporation, maker of the HyperMac line of accessories, alleging violation of patents it owns related to the MagSafe charger and cables that use the iPod 30-pin connection.

TechDirt wonders, “Is It Patent Infringement To Reuse Recycled Apple Magsafe Connectors?”

AppleInsider has the details of yet another patent infringement lawsuit filed by Apple, who has become a lot more aggressive on the patent front lately. This lawsuit is against Sanho, a company that makes a variety of external batteries for Apple products. There are six patents listed in the lawsuit, but two are design patents, which are pretty narrow.

Apple is just killing competition using patents and in another new story the same tricks are being used quite blatantly (to drive a competitor into bankruptcy also). [via]

Football gear maker files for bankruptcy after losing patent-infringement suit

[...]

The phrase “bet-the-company litigation” is an overused metaphor to describe high-stakes cases. But once in a while the survival of a business is hanging in the balance, as in the case of Schutt Sports Inc.

The Illinois-based maker of football helmets and other sports gear filed for bankruptcy on Labor Day, a month after it was sacked with more than $29 million in damages for violating its rival’s helmet patent. Schutt Sports said in bankruptcy court papers that the verdict was the final hammer, as the company already was struggling with deteriorating revenue and profit margins and an overleveraged balance sheet prior to the jury decision.

Instrumental in blocking competition is the ITC (International Trade Commission), whose role we wrote about in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Here is Sony meeting the ITC wall because of “alleged patent infringements” (mere allegations).

THE US ITC (International Trade Commission) will investigate complaints from a Taiwanese manufacturer about Sony regarding some alleged patent infringements.

The accusations about patent toe-stepping come from Chimei Innolux, one of the biggest LCD manufacturers in Taiwan, Chi Mei Optoelectronics, and Texas based Innolux Corporation, all of which appear to be related companies and are complaining that Sony has ridden roughshod over their patent rights on gadgets ranging from Sony’s televisions to its games console, the PS3.

Innolux Corporation is a company of just 5 or so people and its Web site lists no products.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. New EPO Caricature: Nouveaux Garde-Vélo (New Bicycle Guards)

    A new cartoon poking fun at Battistelli's bicycles and the perceived threat these are under



  2. Battistelli's 'Special Relationship' With Portugal and the 'Inventor of the Year' Charade

    What makes Portugal rather unique when it comes to Mr. Battistelli, who is allegedly desperate for support from smaller countries whose vote is easier to 'win'



  3. Patent Lawyers' Marketing Dominates and Marginalises Meaningful Analyses of Software Patenting in the US

    In an effort to create demand for software patents again, patent lawyers produce a huge heap of so-called 'analyses' which piggyback just one single decision (the exception, not the norm)



  4. A Mix of Patent Aggression and Sanctions/Raids (Using Controversial Patents) Against East Asian Companies

    New stories that demonstrate patent protectionism and show how Western industry, which barely makes anything anymore, relies on patents (software and design patents included) and this self-serving patent regime perpetuates itself even in Asia, where almost everything is actually being manufactured (and often/increasingly designed/developed too)



  5. Rumour: Battistelli Wants to Extend the Term of Topić's EPO Appointment in Spite of Criminal Charges Against Him

    The EPO's 'ringleader', Mr. Battistelli, is trying to keep his confidants (like Mr. Minnoye and Željko Topić) together for several more years to come, even defying rules regarding retirement age



  6. Links 29/5/2016: NetBSD 7.0.1, Genode OS 16.05

    Links for the day



  7. [ES] La Gerencia de la EPO Bajo Creciénte Estres por las Autoridades Legales Croatas, Políticas Alemanas, y los Medios Italianos

    Las cosas no son color rosa como la calma relativa sugiere, y esperamos en las próximas semanas mayores eventos otros que la protesta en todas las sedes de la EPO a través de Europa



  8. [ES] Los Medios de Comunicación Comienzan a Informar al Público Europeo Acercas de las Desventájas de la UPC Mientras que la EPO Acelera su Cabildeo por Ratificación

    La vergonzósa promoción de la UPC por parte de la EPO da otro paso adelánte mientras que venues de la prensa Europea (incluso canales de televisión) comienzan a explorar el arreglo secreto que es negociado por los abogados de patentes (con clientes corpórativos) y las oficinas de patentes, no el público o cualquier grupo que represente los intereses del público en general



  9. [ES] Algunos Detalles Acerca de ¿Cómo el Presidente de la EPO Es Rumoreado Estar Comprando Votos, y el Porqué es Suficientemente Base Para un Despido Inmediato?

    Algo de información tras las cortinas y una detallada explicación de la dependencia finánciera sistemática, creada por Battistelli a un costode €13 millónes o más, la cuál evita una efectiva supervisión de Battistelli



  10. Mishi Choudhary and Mike Masnick Explain Why India Should Reject Software Patents

    Both an Indian activist-lawyer and a widely-recognised author from the US explain to Indians why over-reliance on patents -- and acceptance of patents on software in particular -- is a very bad idea



  11. Microsoft Boosters Pretend Microsoft Fights for Privacy While the Company Uses Malware Tactics to Put Keyloggers on Everyone's Computers

    In spite of malware-inspired tactics that should land Microsoft in courts of law all around the world (as a defendant), Microsoft-friendly circles pretend that the company fights for people's rights like privacy -- all this when Microsoft installs keyloggers on people's PCs without their consent and obviously against their will



  12. Battistelli's Assault on EPO Staff's Right to Strike in Relation to French Politics and That 'Bicycle' Pretext for Crackdowns

    The latest bicycle 'gossip' and how it's being used, based on expectations from EPO staff, to introduce further crackdowns on human/labour rights



  13. Vice-President of the EPO Under Investigation: Treason, Abuse, Violations, Giving and Receiving Bribes

    An English translation of documents involving the Organised Crime Section of the Criminal Police Department in Zagreb, where the Vice-President of the EPO faces criminal charges



  14. EPO Management Warns People About Scams When the EPO's Management is Itself Falling for Scams

    Jesper Kongstad, the Chairman of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation, helps demonstrate that not even the EPO is intelligent enough to spot an obvious scam



  15. Links 28/5/2016: Wine 1.9.11, New Gentoo

    Links for the day



  16. Links 27/5/2016: Android for Raspberry Pi, Google Beats Oracle in Court

    Links for the day



  17. Warning: EPO Surveillance May Have Just Gotten Even More Intrusive

    BlueCoat, which the EPO uses to enable oppression inside its European premises, has just gotten even nastier and staff may be at risk



  18. Victim Card Ends up in Another Blunder for Battistelli and His Six Bodyguards

    Battistelli is wrecking what's left of the EPO's reputation (after decades it took the Office to earn it) as the media continues to scrutinise his appalling regime



  19. Italian Report About EPO Now Available in English

    An English translation of a TV program which earlier this month documented some of the glaring problems at the EPO



  20. The EPO is Doing Great, Says EPO-Connected 'News' Site

    IAM 'magazine', a longtime ally of the EPO, gives people the impression that all is fine and dandy at the EPO even though that's clearly not the case



  21. Microsoft Has Killed Nokia (and Its Own Mobile Ambitions), But Watch What it Does With Patents

    Microsoft announces many more layoffs, having already caused tremendous damage to the Finnish economy, and patents are left astray for Microsoft's favourite patent trolls to pick



  22. EPO Management Under Growing Stress From Croatian Law Enforcement Authorities, German Politicians, Italian Media

    Things are not as rosy as the relative calm may suggest, and in the coming weeks we expect some major events other than the protest at all EPO sites across Europe



  23. Microsoft, a Dead Company Walking, Resorts to Malware Tactics, Now Truly Indistinguishable From Crackers

    Microsoft is essentially taking over people's PCs and installing on them a large piece of malware, complete with keyloggers, against the will of these PCs' owners



  24. Links 26/5/2016: CentOS Linux 6.8, Ansible 2.1

    Links for the day



  25. The Latest EPO Victim Card (Played by Željko Topić) Should be Treated as Seriously as Those Bogus Claims of Violence by a Judge (Updatedx3)

    In its desperate pursuit of a narrative wherein the staff of the EPO is violent and aggressive the management of the EPO, renowned for institutional aggression, finds (or claims to have found) a little tampering with a bicycle



  26. Links 25/5/2016: Nginx 1.11, F1 2015 Coming to GNU/Linux Tomorrow

    Links for the day



  27. The Media Starts Informing the European Public About the Downsides of UPC While EPO Accelerates Its Lobbying for Ratification

    The EPO's shameless UPC promotion takes another step forward as the European press outlets (even television channels) begin to explore the secret deal that's negotiated by patent lawyers (with corporate clients) and patent offices, not the public or any public interest groups



  28. Some Details About How the EPO's President is Rumoured to be 'Buying' Votes and Why It's Grounds/Basis for “Immediate Dismissal”

    Some background information and a detailed explanation of the systemic financial dependency, created by Battistelli at the cost of €13 million or more, which prevents effective oversight of Battistelli



  29. How the Patent Lawyers' Microcosm Continues to Boost Software Patents Filth by Misdirecting Readers, Relying on Highly Selective Coverage

    Under the guise of reporting/analysis/advice the community of patent lawyers is effectively lobbying to make software patents popular and widely-accepted again, based on one single case which they wish to make 'the' precedent



  30. Documents Show Zagreb Police Department in Investigation of Vice-President of the European Patent Office

    Željko Topić's troubles in Croatia, where he faces many criminal charges, may soon become an extraordinary burden for the EPO, which distances itself from it all mostly by attacking staff that 'dares' to bring up the subject


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts