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

07.25.11

Rage Against the Masochist

Posted in America, Patents at 5:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: Public opinion is quickly shifting against patents after a National Public Radio (NPR) piece and also some highly excessive activities from a shell troll of Nathan Myhrvold (shown above)

WE have just written a summary following the NPR coverage that led to some very strongly-worded comments about Microsoft’s patent troll who is the world’s biggest patent troll. A lot of people were not quite aware of the seriousness of this issue.

Professor Webbink has this theory about what Lodsys is doing with Myhrvold’s acquired patent (that he passes around for other non-practising entities to sue and absorb the bad press):

To really understand why Lodsys is doing what it’s doing, we thought it would be worthwhile to ask a patent lawyer to explain it, so we contacted Patrick Igoe, the lawyer who writes the Apple Patent blog and who has pointed out some real weaknesses in the Lodsys patents.

Why, we wondered, was Lodsys first going after the little people, so to speak, first and now hitting up Rovio and Electronic Arts? Is it like SCO, lots of headline seeking, hoping people will be so scared they’ll just pay them to stop? Is it all just so much “legal” theater, in other words, with analysts popping up and advising the little people to settle with Lodsys? I gather that didn’t work. If Lodsys was following a traditional playbook and hoped to use any licensees as a foundation to next go after the big fish, are they now acknowledging that failure and heading for the deeper pockets, in hopes that will work better?

And why only claim 27 of the ’545 patent, which is what Lodsys is alleging is infringed? What is claim 27, anyhow? How could a game violate it?

The head of the FFII meanwhile discovers that ‘Amazon [is] sued for patent infringement over transactions using “a receipt having payment remittance information.”‘ He also links to this item of news about Lodsys attacking Angry Birds — a subject that even the BBC covers right now:

But here is what I would want to have asked him. Is a system that appears to reward those who acquire patents and hire lawyers and punish those who simply try to make things really going to encourage innovation?

My contact is certainly not doing much innovating right now – he’s too busy worrying about the threat of an expensive lawsuit.

That comes from Rory, who in the past did a lot of Microsoft promotion. Maybe he softened with age. Either way, the news might not be so bad for Brits. After all, it is US-based users who are likely to be prevented access to software and Britain might also see developers leaving the US and come to a haven from patent trolls, a haven such as the UK (provided they don’t sell in the US).

As a direct result of NPR coverage, “Intellectual Ventures: Another American Mafia story” was published by Stefano Maffulli. “Intellectual Ventures is the company behind Lodsys,” he explains, “the company suing independent iPhone app developers for a silly patent violation. Lodsys has no employees, it’s not making any product, it’s not producing any innovation. It sues people that create jobs and deliver products.

“Did you think that patents were introduced to foster innovation? To give an incentive for inventors to bring new products to the society and solve problems? Think again. Companies like Intellectual Ventures are just a problem for startups and innovators. Venture investor Chris Sacca even said to NPR reporters that these trolls remind him of “a mafia-style shakedown, where someone comes in the front door of your building and says, ‘It would be a shame if this place burnt down. I know the neighborhood really well and I can make sure that doesn’t happen.’”. The FSFE raised this issue in Europe many years ago. The US patent system needs to be reformed, now.”

Well, in several recent stories about patent FUD we highlighted the fact that almost nobody in today’s society should want patents. It’s the luxury of very few and it is beneficial to even fewer, maybe less than 1% of the population. In a new post titled “Android & Linux FUD”, someone asks about Oracle’s attack:

Do you think that patent issues and all this money changing hands has nothing to do with Linux? Just follow the money. While most of the legal attention focuses on Dalvik, the Android implementation of the Java virtual machine, the public perception of Linux is also tarnished to anyone who understands that Android is a Linux distribution. I can only imagine what cyanogenmod.com people think about what is going on.

Well, Oracle’s attack is already weakening and the Oracle case might yield nothing at all or only a fraction of what Oracle expected. To quote this new summary:

What If Oracle Loses The Android-Java Court Battle?

[...]

Contrary to the blog-based reports, Oracle has been at the losing end from the very beginning. The major setback was when the court ordered it to cut the number of claims from 132 to 50. Another major setback for Oracle was when USPTO rejected a majority of Oracle’s patent claims.

Oracle again faced a defeat when the judge earlier questioned the damage estimates of Ian Cockburn and asked both parties to name more experts to assess damages. An now the court has rejected Oracle’s 6.1 billion damage estimation. The court has asked Oracle to come up with a figure starting from $100 million.

Maybe the case will end in dismissal or some settlement at a low (and likely undisclosed) price. Who knows, maybe it will even go on for years like the SCO case, depending on Oracle’s stubbornness (or SCOracle’s vindictiveness). Either way, I’m away until August, so no more paten rants for a while.

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

3 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    July 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Gravatar

    The NPR story did more than include Chris Sacca’s opinion, they researched it and agreed it was correct. After quoting Sacca’s extortion scheme accusation,

    it’s this very delicate balancing act that is
    quite reminiscent of scenes you see in movies when the mafia comes to visit your butcher shop and they say to you, “Hey, it would be a real shame if somebody else came and sued you. Tell you what, pay us an exorbitant membership fee into our collective and we’ll keep you protected that way.” A protection scheme isn’t that credible unless some butcher shops burn down now and then

    They ask IV what they thought of it and then dismissed the answer by saying,

    it seems like a lot of butcher shops have been burning. As we were reporting this story, more and more Intellectual Ventures patents started showing up in the hands of companies like Oasis, companies without employees or operations, who were formed for the purpose of filing lawsuits.

    They also chased down one of the shell companies, Oasis, which shares the same physical address as Lodsys in East Texas.

    Sadly, the show concludes by predicting success in driving all but the largest companies out of the market. That kind of defeatism should not be advocated by a news agency, especially when there are so many encouraging signs of software patents being rejected by US courts. Anyone discovering a crime like this should advocate the end of the crime.

    If no one has the nerve to prosecute Myvold, Gates and others for racketeering, society should at least have the sense to eliminate software patents. Real harm is done to everyone when small businesses are destroyed by judicial extortion, but it’s especially hard on the company investors and employees. Eliminating software patents would punish the greedy people who have invested in extortion and it would also allow decrepit software houses like Microsoft to finally fall over.

  2. Needs Sunlight said,

    July 27, 2011 at 6:45 am

    Gravatar

    From the NPR transcript:

    “Laura: How many shell companies do you personally believe that Intellectual
    Ventures has, based on your research?

    Ewing: Very close to 1,300.”

    Very interesting.

    Guest Editorial Team Reply:

    Wow.

What Else is New


  1. The Death of Software Patents and Microsoft's Coup Against Yahoo! Made the Company Worthless

    A look at what happens to companies whose value is a house of software patents rather than code and a broad base of users/customers



  2. Munich Attack Mentioned by EPO But Not Ansbach

    The EPO does the usual right-wing thing (exploiting disaster/emergency for domestic crackdowns), but some bemoan the omission of the explosion at Ansbach (also in Germany)



  3. Kluwer Thinks People Are Clueless About the Unitary Patent System and Pretends It's Business as Usual

    Flogging the dead UPC horse at times of great uncertainty (enough to bring the UPC to a standstill)



  4. Almost Everything That the Government Accountability Office Says is Applicable to the EPO

    The Government Accountability Office in the United States produces reports which can serve as a timely warning sign to the European Patent Office, where patent quality is rapidly declining in order to meet 'production' goals



  5. Microsoft Says It Loves Linux, But Its Anti-Linux Patent Trolls Are Still Around and Active

    Highlighting just two of the many entities that Microsoft (and partners) use in order to induce additional costs on Free (as in freedom) software



  6. Links 26/7/2016: Microsoft Growing Desperate, Linux 4.8 Visions

    Links for the day



  7. Links 25/7/2016: Linux 4.7 Final, PostgreSQL 9.6 Beta 3

    Links for the day



  8. Leaked: Boards of Appeal Face 'Exile' or 'Extradition' in Haar After Standing up to Battistelli

    A look at some of the latest moves at the European Patent Office (EPO), following Battistelli's successful coup d’état which brought the EPO into a perpetual state of emergency that perpetuates Battistelli's totalitarian powers



  9. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comes Across as Against Software Patents, Relates to the EPO as Well

    Some analysis of the input from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with focus on the EPO and software patents



  10. In the US, Patent Trolls Engage in Patent Wars and Shakedowns, Whereas in China/Korea Large Android OEMs Sue One Another

    Highlighting some of the differences between the US patent system and other patent systems



  11. Links 24/7/2016: Elive 2.7.1 Beta, New Flatpaks and Snaps

    Links for the day



  12. Links 23/7/2016: Leo Laporte on GNU/Linux, Dolphin Emulator’s Vulkan Completion

    Links for the day



  13. Links 22/7/2016: Wine 1.9.15, KaOS 2016.07 ISO

    Links for the day



  14. Haar Mentioned as Likely Site of Appeal Boards as Their Eradication or Marginalisation Envisioned by UPC Proponent Benoît Battistelli

    Not only the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) is under severe attack and possibly in mortal danger; the increasingly understaffed Boards of Appeal too are coming under attack and may (according to rumours) be sent to Haar, a good distance away from Munich and the airport (half an hour drive), not to mention lack of facilities for visitors from overseas



  15. EPO Attaché Albert Keyack Viewed as Somewhat of a Mole, Reporting From the US Embassy in Brazil Until Shortly Before the Temer Coup

    Public responses to the role played by Albert Keyack on behalf of the United States inside the European [sic] Patent Office



  16. EPO Insiders Explain Why the EPO's Examination Quality Rapidly Declines and Will Get Even Worse Because of Willy Minnoye

    Public comments from anonymous insiders serve to highlight a growing crisis inside the European Patent Office (EPO), where experienced/senior examiners are walking away and leaving an irreplaceable bunch of seats (due to high experience demands)



  17. Patents Roundup: BlackBerry, Huawei, PTAB, GAO, Aggressive Universities With Patents, and Software Patents in Europe

    Various bits and pieces of news regarding patents and their fast-changing nature in the United States nowadays



  18. Glimpse at Patent Systems Across the World: Better Quality Control at the USPTO Post-America Invents Act (2011), Unlike the EPO Post-Battistelli (2010)

    While the EPO reportedly strives to eliminate pendency and appeal windows altogether (rubberstamping being optimal performance as per the yardstick du jour), the USPTO introduces changes that would strengthen the system and shield innovation, not protect the business model of serial litigants



  19. Blockstream Has No Patents, But Pledges Not to Sue Using Patents

    Blockstream says that it comes in peace when it comes to software patents, which triggers speculations about coming Blockchain patent wars



  20. Links 21/7/2016: Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” Xfce Beta

    Links for the day



  21. Links 21/7/2016: An Honorary Degree for Alan Cox, Looks Back at DebConf16

    Links for the day



  22. EPO USA: Under Battistelli, the 'European' Patent Office Emulates All the Mistakes of the USPTO

    Conservative Benoît Battistelli is trying to impose on the European Patent Office various truly misguided policies and he viciously attacks anyone or anything that stands in his way, including his formal overseers



  23. Links 19/7/2016: ARM and Opera Buyout

    Links for the day



  24. Large Corporations' Software Patenting Pursuits Carry on in Spite of Patent Trolls That Threaten Small Companies the Most

    With unconvincing excuses such as OIN, large corporations including IBM continue to promote software patents in the United States, even when public officials and USPTO officials work towards ending those



  25. Battistelli Has Implemented De Facto EPO Coup to Remove Oversight, Give Himself Total Power, and Allegedly Give UPC Gifts (Loot) to French Officials

    Benoît Battistelli's agenda at the EPO is anything but beneficial to the EPO and suspicions that Battistelli's overall agenda is transitioning to the UPC to further his goals grow feet



  26. EPO Social [sic] Report is a Big Pile of Lies That Responsible Journalists Must Ignore

    A reminder of where the EPO stands on social issues and why the latest so-called 'social' report is nothing but paid-for propaganda for Battistelli's political ambitions



  27. Links 18/7/2016: Vista 10 a Failure, FreeType 2.7

    Links for the day



  28. Exploiting Perceived Emergencies/Disasters, Suspending the Rule of Law, and Suspending Judges: How Erdoğan is Like Battistelli, Except the Coup

    Pretexts for crackdown on law-abiding people or figureheads who are remote and independent the hallmark not only of Erdoğan but also the EPO's President, Benoit Battistelli



  29. The Impotence of Gene Quinn

    Attacking the enforcer of Alice v CLS because it's doing harm to his source of income, which makes him angry



  30. After the FTI Consulting-EPO Reputation Laundering Deal's Expansion in Germany Süddeutsche Zeitung 'Forgets' That the EPO Even Exists

    Relative apathy if not complete silence regarding the EPO at Süddeutsche Zeitung following reports of FTI Consulting's deal expansion (media positioning in Germany), with hundreds of thousands of Euros (EPO budget) thrown at the controversial task


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