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

04.18.11

Microsoft’s Choice: Patent-Trolling to Death or Real Patent Reform

Posted in America, Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 5:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: The US patent system preys on Canadians as Microsoft’s infringement goes to SCOTUS and RIM wants a patent shield shortly after Microsoft’s patent troll, Nathan Myhrvold (the company’s extortion arm), put a tax on every BlackBerry; Apple too goes trigger-happy against Linux, having given investment money to this same patent troll

Microsoft should just defect to the side which works to abolish software patents and if not, then shareholders of Microsoft should start criticising the company’s strategy. As things stand at the moment, Microsoft is bombarded with patent lawsuits and Groklaw explains why Free software cares about the i4i case which we last mentioned this morning (it goes beyond the Canadian media due to escalation to SCOTUS, which got the lawyers [1, 2] and the MSBBC paying closer attention). To quote Groklaw:

Today is the day scheduled for oral argument before the US Supreme Court in the appeal of the i4i v. Microsoft patent litigation. The appeal is focused on an issue that matters to FOSS a great deal. EFF, Public Knowledge, and the Apache Foundation have filed an amicus brief [PDF] that explains to the court why it matters so much and with such particularity to the FOSS community. I’ve done it as text for you.

I’ll let them explain the details, but the big picture is that US patent law, largely due to the Federal Circuit’s broadening of plaintiffs’ rights, is hard on defendants and harder still on FOSS defendants, because FOSS uses a development model that doesn’t match the patent law as currently interpreted by the Federal Circuit.

The issue before the US Supreme Court is this, in plain English: how hard should it be to prove that a patent that the USPTO has issued is invalid? How about if you have evidence that the USPTO examiner never looked at? Should juries assume that the USPTO got it right? I smile just writing that. With FOSS software, it’s almost impossible for an examiner to find prior art, unless it’s been patented, which it almost never is, given the restrictions on what examiners can search through. And you may be surprised when you read what the courts require as proof. I am pretty sure that after you read this brief, you’ll see how unbalanced the current system is, how it disadvantages FOSS defendants, and hopefully you’ll notice some things you can do to help balance out the playing field. I hope the court sees the unfairness too, and I hope they care.

The bottom line for me remains that software and patents need to get a divorce. But anything that we or the courts or Congress can do to ameliorate the strange and damaging tilt toward patent plaintiffs to the detriment of defendants is to the good. The law is supposed to be fair to both plaintiffs and defendants, but with patent law, it absolutely isn’t, as the brief will show you. The damage being done to innovation is enormous already, and with Microsoft on a march to rape and pillage FOSS and force the community — most especially Android — to pay royalties for patents that could be invalidated in a more fair system but which it can use as anticompetitive weapons unless something is done to shortcircuit their strategy, this case is vitally important.

As Mr. Arthur put it, “Microsoft seeks to weaken software patent rules at US Supreme Court”:

A software patent case in which Microsoft was accused of wilfully infringing a patent on XML – and forced to suspend sales of Word and Office – reaches the US Supreme Court on Monday afternoon UK time and could have a wide-ranging effect on future litigation.

How long can Microsoft pretend that software patents which are asserted against Microsoft are invalid whereas those which is uses to extort others are valid? In some cases, as in the VirnetX case for example, Microsoft must pay a lot of money to a company which according to this new report “does not currently have any sources of revenue from operations.”

It is a patent troll. When Microsoft quits areas like mobile (due to failure), Microsoft’s mobile division too will become a patent troll. Microsoft is currently busy trying to extort all sellers of Android/Linux, so Google, in turn, is competing to inherit the patent portfolio which currently ‘belongs’ to Nortel. There is competition over it, reportedly from RIM [1, 2, 3, 4], which is the latest victim to be massively extorted by the world's largest patent troll, Microsoft's very own patent troll, Intellectual Ventures (it also extorted Android, at least at Samsung and HTC).

Here is a new pinion piece by Doug Lichtman (at the New York Times). It implies rather than states that the patent office has been subverted by leeches like Intellectual Ventures. To quote: [via Groklaw]

ON Monday the Supreme Court will consider whether to fundamentally alter the way American patent law is litigated. Specifically, in the context of an otherwise unremarkable patent dispute, the Court has promised to decide the degree to which juries should be allowed to question whether a patent should have been issued at all.

It’s a critical issue: the current approach, under which juries are explicitly discouraged from questioning a patent’s validity, all too often means that dubious patents are nevertheless enforced. That inhibits innovation, the very thing that patent law is supposed to encourage.

[...]

These problems could in theory be fixed with more money. But resources aren’t the only issue. The extent and quality of Patent Office review is also limited by the fact that the process is not adversarial. Indeed, the only parties involved in Patent Office review are the applicant and the applicant’s lawyers — people with an obvious incentive to see the application move forward. Contrast that with litigation, where patent plaintiffs have to square off against very motivated patent defendants.

The last bit there is important. it validates calls to abolish the patent office or reboot it such that it actually serves the public and not the lobbyists of Bill Gates and his buddy Nathan Myhrvold. Microsoft does not want software patents to go away because people up there at the top of Microsoft are still cashing in, at the expense of everyone else. That’s what patents are for, they are simply a monopolist’s dream. Apple is no better in that regard, e.g. with its latest anti-Linux patent lawsuit. Boycott Apple, the expensive imitators.

“We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Steve Jobs

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

A Single Comment

  1. twitter said,

    April 20, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Gravatar

    Apple has added “look and feel” trademark violations to their attack on Android.

    Apple’s new lawsuit against Samsung, made public today, shows that the company is willing to go beyond patents to hinder its competitors in the mobile device market. [the company claims] Samsung has violated Apple’s trademarks and “trade dress,” which is a more subjective claim that trademark owners can bring over the packaging and “look and feel” of their products.

    Yes, the same kinds of charges they made back in the 80′s.

What Else is New


  1. EPO Spiraling Down the Drain as Experienced Examiners and Judges Are Seemingly Being Replaced by Interns

    Implementing yet more of his terrible ideas and so-called 'reforms', Battistelli seems to be racing to the bottom of everything (patent quality, staff experience, labour rights, working conditions, access to justice etc.)



  2. A Lot of News From the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Today, With Some Important Decisions on Patents Coming Soon

    A roundup of today's outcomes from the US Supreme Court, which intends to review and decide on important patent cases



  3. In Historic Blow to Design Patents, Apple Loses to Samsung at the Supreme Court

    A $399 million judgment against Android devices from Samsung, with potential implications for other Android OEMs, is rejected by SCOTUS



  4. Good Riddance. Ray Niro is Dead.

    The infamous father of patent trolling is dead, so we need to remember his real legacy rather than rewrite his history to appease his rich relatives (enriched by destroying real companies)



  5. EPO Suicides Greater in Number Than is Widely Reported, Unjust System a Contributor to These

    The horrible regime of Benoît Battistelli has an enormous human toll (fatalities), far greater than the Office is willing to publicly acknowledge



  6. Lobbying Disguised as 'Reporting' by the Patent Microcosm, Which Wants More Patents and More Lawsuits (Lawyers Needed)

    A rebuttal to some new articles about patents, especially those that strive to increase patent-related activities (usually for personal gain)



  7. USPTO Echo Chamber That Lacks Actual Software Professionals Deciding on Patentability of Software

    A look at yesterday's "Roundtable on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility," which lacked involvement from those actually affected by patents rather than those who sell, trade, and exploit these



  8. More Examples of Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Taxing Linux, Even After Microsoft 'Joined' (Paid) the Linux Foundation

    A quick look at the past week's news and clues about Microsoft's (and its broad army of patent trolls) strategy for taxing Linux, or imposing bundling at zero cost (to Microsoft)



  9. Heiko Maas, the SPD “Cash for Access” Affair, and Suspicions of Unwarranted Censorship at IP Kat (Again)

    Unsayable views or just a glitch? Readers of IP Kat express concern about a culture of censorship at IP Kat



  10. Endgame for Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Battistelli turns bad into worse by spitting on the very notion of accepting justice (from the highest court in The Hague or even the UN in this case)



  11. Les Échos Chamber: Having Corrupted the Media (With EPO Money), Battistelli Now Uses It for More UPC Propaganda

    The lies about the Unitary Patent are now being broadcast (Battistelli given the platform) by the publication that Battistelli pays



  12. Rumour: EPO in Berlin the Next Casualty of Battistelli's 'Reform' (Organisational Suicide Plan)

    Months after we learned that a former staff representative in Berlin had been dismissed we come across an anonymous claim that Berlin's 'branch' of the EPO will be folded onto Munich's



  13. Caricature: the Maas App

    The failure of Maas to even bother with regulation of Battistelli (among others) earns him this cartoon



  14. Links 5/12/2016: Linux 4.9 RC 8, DeepMind as FOSS

    Links for the day



  15. Leaked: Battistelli Acknowledges Bunk 'Justice' in About 100 Cases at the Internal Appeals Committee of the EPO

    A look at Battistelli's response to the latest from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), exceptionally delivering two decisions at the very end of last month



  16. The UPC Scam Part V: Unitary Patent Regime a Fantasy of Patent Trolls

    "Good for trolls" is a good way to sum up the Unitary Patent, which would give litigators plenty of business (defendants and plaintiffs, plus commissions on high claims of damages) if it ever became a reality



  17. EPO at a Tipping Point: Battistelli Quarrelling With French Politicians, Administrative Council Urged to Act, Staff Unrest Peaking

    The latest messages about Battistelli's regime at the EPO, which faces growing opposition from more directions than ever before



  18. Quality of Patents at the EPO Dependent on the Appeal Boards When Battistelli Assesses Performance Using the Wrong 'Production' Yardstick

    A look at some recent articles regarding patent quality in the US and in Europe, in particular because of growing trouble at today's EPO, which marginalises the appeal boards



  19. Microsoft's Push for Software Patents Another Reminder That There is No 'New' Microsoft

    Microsoft's continued fascination with and participation in the effort to undermine Alice so as to make software patents, which the company uses to blackmail GNU/Linux vendors, widely acceptable and applicable again



  20. Links 5/12/2016: SparkyLinux 4.5 Released, Kondik Exits Cyanogen (Destroyed After Microsoft Deal)

    Links for the day



  21. Software Patents Continue Their Invalidation Process, But Patent Law Firms Try to Deny This in Order to Attract Misinformed (or Poorly-Informed) Clients

    A roundup of news about software patents and demonstration of the sheer bias in the media, which is mostly controlled or steered by the patent microcosm rather than actual inventors



  22. Patent Trolls of Microsoft and Ericsson Are Trying to Tax Everything, Especially Linux Devices

    An update on Intellectual Ventures and Unwired Planet, whose operations pose a growing problem for Free software and Linux-based products (e.g. Android)



  23. Asia's Patent Litigation Chaos Getting Worse, Reaching Countries in the West, and Sites Like IAM Actively Promote This

    The race to the bottom (of patent quality) in China, the growth of patent trolls in the region, and the ruinous litigation strategy which now spills over even to the US -- through the Eastern District of Texas -- and may inevitably come to Europe (especially if the UPC ever becomes a reality)



  24. More French Politicians Are Complaining That Benoît Battistelli is a Disgrace to France and Urge for Action

    The backlash against Battistelli spills well outside the EPO and is now apparent even at the French National Assembly



  25. Links 3/12/2016: Mageia 5.1 Released, Mozilla Revenue at $421.3M

    Links for the day



  26. Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) Sees Decline in Patent Applications and It May Actually be a Good Thing

    Challenging the false belief that the more patents society has the better off it will be, citing examples and news from north America



  27. Blockchain Domain Infested With Software Patents, MasterCard Among the Culprits

    Worrying signs that an area of Free/Open Source software innovation is getting impacted by the plague of software patents



  28. Dutch Media Covers Latest EPO Scandals, German Media Totally Absent (a Media Blackout of Convenience)

    Our observations regarding the apparent media disinterest in EPO scandals, especially at the very core of the EPO (principal host country)



  29. Relocating the Boards of Appeal to Haar is a Poisonous Priority at Battistelli's EPO

    Revisiting Battistelli's effort to chop off the appeal boards that are necessary for ensuring patent quality at the EPO



  30. Links 2/12/2016: Mint Betas, Chrome 55, KDevelop 5.0.3, PHP 7.1.0

    Links for the day


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