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. The EPO is Lying to Its Own Staff About ILO and Endless (Over 2 Years) EPO Mistrials

    The creative writing skills of some spinners who work for Battistelli would have staff believe that all is fine and dandy at the EPO and ILO is dealing effectively with staff complaints about the EPO (even if several years too late)



  2. EPO’s Georg Weber Continues Horrifying Trend of EPO Promoting Software Patents in Defiance of Directive, EPC, and Common Sense

    The EPO's promotion of software patents, even out in the open, is an insult to the notion that the EPO is adhering to or is bound by the rules upon which it maintains its conditional monopoly



  3. Protectionism v Sharing: How the US Supreme Court Decides Patent Cases

    As the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) starts delivering some decisions we take stock of what's to come regarding patents



  4. Links 22/3/2017: GNOME 3.24, Wine-Staging 2.4 Released

    Links for the day



  5. The Battistelli Regime, With Its Endless Scandals, Threatens to Crash the Unitary Patent (UPC), Stakeholders Concerned

    The disdain and the growing impatience have become a huge liability not just to Battistelli but to the European Patent Office (EPO) as a whole



  6. The Photos the EPO Absolutely Doesn't Want the Public to See: Battistelli is Building a Palace Using Stakeholders' Money

    The Office is scrambling to hide evidence of its out-of-control spendings, which will leave the EPO out of money when the backlog is eliminated by many erroneous grants (or rejections)



  7. In the US Patent System, Evolved Tricks for Bypassing Invalidations of Software Patents and Getting Them Granted by the USPTO

    A roundup of news about patents in the US and how the patent microcosm attempts to patent software in spite of Alice (high-impact SCOTUS decision from 2014)



  8. “Then They Came For Me—And There Was No One Left To Speak For Me.”

    The decreasing number of people who cover EPO scandals (partly due to fear, or Battistelli's notorious "reign of terror") and a cause for hope, as well as a call for help



  9. As Expected, the Patent Microcosm is Already Interfering, Lobbying and Influencing Supreme Court Justices

    The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is preparing to deliver some important decisions on cases with broad ramifications, e.g. for patent scope, and those who make money from patent feuds are attempting to alter the outcome (which would likely restrict patent scope even further, based on these Justices' track record)



  10. Intellectual Ventures -- Like Microsoft (Which It Came From) -- Spreads Patents to Manifest a Lot of Lawsuits

    That worrisome strategy which is passage of patents to active (legally-aggressive) trolls seems to be a commonality, seen across both Microsoft and its biggest ally among trolls, which Microsoft and Bill Gates helped create and still fund



  11. What the Patent Microcosm is Saying About the EPO and the UPC

    Response to 3 law firms and today's output from them, which serves to inform or misinform the European public at times of Big Lies and fog of (patent) war, revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric patent warfare and lobbying



  12. Tough Day for the EPO's Media/Press/PR Team, Trying 'Damage Control' After Important Techrights Publications

    In an effort to save face and regain a sense of legitimacy the EPO publishes various things belatedly, and only after Techrights made these things publicly known and widely discussed



  13. Links 21/3/2017: PyPy Releases, Radeon RX Vega, Eileen Evans at Linux Foundation

    Links for the day



  14. In IAM, Asian Courts That Deliver Justice Are “Unfriendly” and Asian Patent Trolls Are Desirable

    Rebuttal or response to the latest pieces from IAM, which keeps promoting a culture of litigation rather than sharing, collaboration, negotiation, and open innovation



  15. At EPO “I Have the Feeling That Lowering Quality is Part of a Concerted Plan.”

    Growing concern about patent quality at the EPO -- a subject which causes managers to get rather nervous -- is now an issue at the forefront



  16. EPO Reduces the World to Just Seven Nations to Bolster an Illusion of Growing 'Demand' for European Patents

    The unscientific -- if not antiscientific -- attitude of the European Patent Office (EPO) continues to show with the arrival of yet more misleading 'infographics' (disinfographics would be a more suitable term)



  17. Letter to Angela Merkel Expresses Concerns About Impact of EPO Scandals on Germany and Its Image

    Dr. Angela Merkel, arguably the most powerful woman in the world, is being warned about the consequences of Germany ignoring (and hence facilitating) the abuses of Benoît Battistelli



  18. EPO Caricature: Low Patent Quality Not an Achievement

    A new cartoon about the legacy of Battistelli, which ruins both inventors and staff (examination) while handing money to abusers



  19. Are Lithuania and Latvia the Latest Additions to the List of Benoît Battistelli's Vassal States?

    Benoît Battistelli's 'back room' deals came at an interesting, strategic time and the Office uncharacteristically kept quiet about these



  20. Links 20/3/2017: Linux 4.11 RC3, OpenSSH 7.5 Released

    Links for the day



  21. Supposedly 'Pampered' Prisoners Are Still Prisoners of the EPO

    Response to those gross and familiar attempts to portray patent examiners, not politicians who trample all over them, as the cause of all the problems at the EPO



  22. Insulting Reversal of Narratives at the EPO: Team Battistelli as the Victim

    At times of great oppression against staff, in clear defiance of the law in fact, journalists are being asked (or expected) to view the oppressor as the victim, even when this oppressor drives people to suicide



  23. Battistelli's EPO Copies China -- Not the US -- When it Comes to Patenting Software and Expanding Patent Scope

    A detailed explanation of some of the latest reports from China and the US, serving to show that one opens up to software patents whereas the other shuts the door on them (and guess whose lead the EPO is taking)



  24. What IAM Says About AST, RPX, Ericsson, and IBM

    IAM, the trolls' mouthpiece (also the EPO's mouthpiece, but that's another story), provides updates on trolls and troll-like entities, but further commentary is needed to clarify and counterbalance the promotional language



  25. Apple and Microsoft, Two Patent Aggressors That Habitually Attack GNU/Linux Distributors, Get Sued by a Patent Troll, Soverain IP

    Putting in perspective the latest high-profile (in the press at least) lawsuits filed by a notorious troll, which this time around chose as its targets two patent aggressors that deserve no sympathy because of their own actions



  26. What's OIN Doing While Microsoft is Siccing Patent Trolls on Azure Competitors' Customers?

    Microsoft's patent litigation strategy has become clearer, and patents-centric efforts such as OIN offer no defence against such a strategy, which attempts to pressure everyone to flock to Microsoft for 'protection' (from Microsoft itself)



  27. “EPO Continues to Grant Software Patents”

    The longstanding concern about the granting of software patents at the EPO (typically disguised as a "device") as reinforced by T 0625/11



  28. Links 19/3/2017: Linux Sightings, What's Wrong With Microsoft, and Death of Docker

    Links for the day



  29. Governance Crisis at EPO Deepens After Latest Meeting of the Administrative Council, Necessitating Urgent Outside Intervention

    he EPO's Administrative Council continues to be subservient to -- and without any authority over -- Team Battistelli with its endless mischief and endless power grab, including unbridled money grab



  30. EPO Management Deeply Concerned That the Public Has Found Out Quality of European Patents (EPs) Nosedived Under Battistelli's Regime

    Growing pressure on the EPO's management to acknowledge that quality control has gone totally out of control as stakeholders already grasp the obvious and act accordingly, turning to other patent offices, such as their national ones (NPOs)


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