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. Raw: Battistelli's Control/Domination Over the Boards of Appeal

    An old EPO document internally voicing concerns about the lack of independence at the Boards of Appeal



  2. Raw: Conflicts of Interest of EPO Vice-President

    An old EPO concern regarding structural collisions and mixed loyalties



  3. Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls Are Increasingly Active and Microsoft is Selling 'Protection' (Azure Subscriptions)

    There are several indications that Microsoft-connected shells, which produce no products and are threatening a large number of companies, are inadvertently if not intentionally helping Microsoft sell "indemnification" ("Azure IP Advantage," which echoes the Microsoft/Novell strategy for collecting what they called "patent royalties" one decade ago)



  4. Yes, RPost is Definitely a Patent Troll and Its Software Patents Are at Risk Thanks to Alice

    The latest whitewashing (or reputation-laundering) pieces from Watchtroll, which tries to justify patent-trolling activities with software patents, typically in the Eastern District of Texas



  5. The Latest Scams in the Patent World

    Examples of 'dirty laundry' of the patent microcosm, which it understandably does not like covering (as it harms confidence in their services/advice)



  6. Patents Are Becoming a Welfare System for the Rich and Powerful

    A culture of litigation and more recently the patenting of broad industry standards may mean that multi-billion dollar corporations are cashing in without lifting a finger



  7. Unlike the Mobile Domain, When it Comes to Cars Patent Lawsuits Remain Rare

    An optimistic note regarding the relatively low-temperature legal landscape surrounding advanced automobiles, even though patents are being amassed on software in that domain



  8. The Federal Circuit Rules (Again) in Favour of Section 101/Alice, Koch-Funded CPIP Tries to Overturn Alice at the Supreme Court

    The US Supreme Court's decision on Alice continues to have a profoundly positive impact (except for trolls) and Koch-funded academics try hard to compel the US Supreme Court to reverse/override Alice (so far to no avail)



  9. Next Director of the USPTO Parrots Talking Points of Patent Extremists and Their Lobbyists

    The next USPTO boss (still subject to official confirmation) may be little more than a power grab by the litigation and patenting 'industry', which prioritises not science and technology but its own bottom line



  10. Raw: Three Years for 'Justice' (to be Disregarded by Benoît Battistelli) at ILO and Over a Decade at the EPO

    The delays associated with ‘justice’ at the EPO (usually neither justice nor compliance with rulings) have become so extraordinary that immunity should long ago have been stripped off and Battistelli et al been held accountable



  11. Raw: Scuttling of the General Advisory Committee and Battistelli Stacking the Deck to Have 'Yes Men' as Representatives

    How the EPO broke down resistance to Battistelli’s oppressive policies not only at the Council, disciplinary committees and auditory divisions but also staff representation (symptomatic of Battistelli’s notion of justice)



  12. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board Will Endure Supreme Court Test and Overcome the Tribal Immunity “Scam”

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), based on the latest news, is still winning the argument and justifying its existence/importance



  13. Phones/Mobility (Trillion-Dollar Market) May Have Become Infested and Encumbered by Aggressive, Dying Companies

    The tough reality that new entrants/entrepreneurs are facing now that a few dying giants look to "monetise" their patents rather than create anything



  14. Links 9/12/2017: Mesa 17.3, Wine 3.0 RC1, New Debian Builds

    Links for the day



  15. Like the EPO, Taiwan/China (SIPO) Harm SMEs With a Policy of Patent Maximalism Which Fosters Litigation, Not Innovation

    A culture of patent maximalism breeds plenty of lawsuits in China (good for the legal ‘industry’), but small companies that are innovative lose focus and resources, just like in Europe where SMEs are discriminated against



  16. Bristows Continues to Lie About Unitary Patent (UPC) in Britain Only to Get Rebutted in Comments, As Usual (Criticism Not Deleted Yet)

    The latest wave of posts (typically from Bristows) which herald an arrival of UPC in Britain are not just delusional but also constitute terrible legal advice



  17. The European Union Now Repeats Paid Propaganda From the EPO (Regarding the Unitary Patent)

    The EPO's push for UPC, which has already involved payments to media and academia, is spreading to the EU, which unfortunately fails to uphold the Rule of Law and the spirit of the EPC



  18. European Media Covers the Latest EPO Scandal and the EPO's Refusal to Obey Orders of a Court

    European media is starting to catch up with the latest from ILO and the great importance not only of the rulings but also the EPO's response to these



  19. Antonius Tangena From the European Patent Institute (EPI) 'Aids' Željko Topić's Appointment at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    An E-mail from Antonius (Tony) Tangena reveals a degree of coordination between the EPI and the EPO -- a potentially inappropriate action that can be seen as a cover-up attempt



  20. SUEPO Announces Protest, EPO Distracts From the Scandal, and Readers Spill the Beans

    Readers have sent some additional details regarding the EPO "backstory" that we wrote about this morning



  21. EPO Scandal Spills Over to Irish Media, So It's Time for the Backstory

    A lot more is being revealed by the media this week (regarding the EPO's "war on judges") and now that it's a more 'mainstream' subject we can shed light on the background to it



  22. Battistelli's EPO is Once Again Caught in Very Gross Violation of the European Patent Convention (EPC)

    The tyranny of the EPO is made abundantly clear for all to see -- ILO included -- but will there be consequences for repeated violations by Team Battistelli?



  23. Links 7/12/2017: Qt 5.10, ReactOS 0.4.7, Guix and GuixSD 0.14.0

    Links for the day



  24. Less Than 24 Hours Later the EPO Already Refuses to Obey Court Orders From ILO (Updated)

    As expected by realists (or pessimists), the EPO continues to act as though it's above the law and even judges suffer miscarriage of justice against them



  25. ILO Said Give the Judge His Job Back, But Christoph Ernst's Administrative Council Will Likely Let Him Go (Unemployed)

    Another potential EPO scandal in the making, as after waiting for 3 years the illegally-suspended judge might get his job back for only 3 weeks



  26. Watchtroll, AIPPI, Bristows and Others Keep Pushing Software Patents Agenda (in Spite of the Ban)

    Pressure groups and front groups of the patent microcosm (e.g. AIPPI) -- sometimes even the patent microcosm acting directly -- are still trying to make software patents legitimate, usually behind closed doors, e.g. in private events where only the patent microcosm can debate the subject (no software developers allowed)



  27. Meanwhile in Eponia, Tyrant Battistelli Must be Seeking Advice on How to Refuse to Obey Court's Orders (Again)

    People already speculate about how Battistelli will attempt to come up with excuses for noncompliance (and ongoing violation of the EPC as well as ILO code)



  28. Battistelli's 'Mole' Lucy Neville-Rolfe is Still Trying to Push Unitary Patent (UPC) Through in the United Kingdom

    Lucy Neville-Rolfe is back only to tell a bunch of lies about the UPC in British Parliament and Team UPC -- the prosecution 'industry' which has been driving this entire monster -- could not be happier



  29. ILO is 'Forcing' Team Battistelli to Compensate the Banned Judge and Give Him Back His Job

    ILO has, for a change, done some justice, but it comes three years too late and the compensation level (after salary got halved) is laughable, especially considering costs associated with legal fees and moral/reputational damage



  30. International Labour Organisation/ILOAT for UPC Yet Another Problem for Unitary Patent-Style Regime

    Seeing systematic misuse and abuse of justice at the EPO, people come to realise that Europe cannot afford to create a structure like the Unified Patent Court (UPC)


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