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08.11.11

Growing Opposition to Microsoft-Led Cartels and Patent Trolls

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 8:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Harming the United States and even the entire world with monopolistic practices

World puzzle

Summary: The OIN grows further, providing somewhat of a defence against Microsoft’s patent cartels but not against its patent trolls, notably Intellectual Ventures (IV)

AS THE patent storm looms over more and more companies, the OIN grows bigger, pooling together an arsenal of Linux proponents that do not oppose software patents (some are actually proponents of software patents).

The latest additions are the former home of Patent Troll Tracker and also Twitter, which routinely complains about software patents. To quote SJVN:

In case you’ve been under a rock for the last decade, you might not know that today’s technology wars aren’t over who has the best prices, the most features, or the greatest quality. No, in 2011, instead of working on innovating, tech. giants like Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle, are now wasting their resources on intellectual property (IP) lawsuits. So, perhaps it should come as no surprise that networking powerhouse Cisco and social networking force Twitter, is joining the Linux patent protection group, the Open Invention Network (OIN).

The problem with OIN is that it is not effective against trolls as it cannot strike back against them to deter or to eliminate/defuse an attack.

There is this good new article about patent trolls “in all shapes and sizes”. It also covers the cartel of Microsoft’s patent troll, IV. To quote: “In recent months, especially following a widely praised piece from This American Life on Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures, many outside the tech sector are becoming aware of the nightmare the software patent system in America has created for start-ups, inventors and even major corporations—an unfortunate development in a faltering economy where new jobs are scarce and much-needed.”

Yesterday we saw Mr. Cuban calling for the end of software patents and a software patent holder calls it a “troll”, unsurprisingly. Those who are in favour of software patents are there to defend their own monopoly/ies on algorithms.

Those who benefit from software patents are lawyers, their clients, and the patent trolls. “But many of the investors and founders Betabeat spoke with said patent litigation was a costly expense,” alleges Betabeat, “one that forced tech companies to spend money on lawyers instead of hiring even more employees. “We need to face the facts: patent law is killing job creation,” wrote billionaire tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban over the weekend. “If the current administration wants to improve job creation, change patent law and watch jobs among small technology companies develop instantly.”

“And it’s not just small start-ups that are feeling the pinch. Big firms like Microsoft and I.B.M. have built up massive war chests of patents and now have as much interest in protecting the dysfunctional system as reforming it, even if Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said that “if people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.””

Well, ironically he bankrolled the world’s biggest patent troll, IV. It sometimes seems like the proprietary software cartel plans to collude against Free software not just using patent pools but also patent trolls.

Let’s not forget that Apple is now using embargo too (Apple ban attempts were covered here twice before):

Now AFAICS the main point of Apples complaint centers around the uniqueness of its design, which they registered in the US, europe and a few other places too (and trust me, if they could they would do it for the whole galaxy and all possible parallel universes).

Well, Apple’s tablet is not so different from CrunchPad/JooJoo which predates the iPad (there are even examples from the 1970s). There is a lot more prior art. Here is Apple’s itch and aggressive action, which we wrote about twice before, emphasising that Apple has become a shameless embargo company. Apple cultists are already criticising Techrights for ‘daring’ to criticise Apple for these actions.

The solution is probably to redesign the legal system associated with patents. In Yahoo! News there is currently this article calling for the end of all patents, not just software patents. Quoting the opening parts:

Apple just got an Android tablet called the Samsung Galaxy Tab banned in Australia and Europe, thanks to its supposed infringements of Apple patents. Apple’s also trying to get all Android smartphones and tablets made by HTC banned, and it’s taking potshots at the Motorola Xoom as well. All three companies are firing back with their own countersuits, giving the whole proceedings the feel of global nuclear armageddon.

How did this happen? Aren’t patents supposed to encourage innovation? I grew up being taught that inventors like Thomas Edison raced to discovery, so that they could file a patent on it. I never imagined a world where patents would be used as weapons of war, but that’s what it’s come to these days.

Here’s why the patent system as we know it is broken, and why we need to get rid of it now:

Maybe it’s only a matter of time before the US patent system revises its workings or simply collapses. If this is how business is done now, then the US will lose its ability to compete with the rest of the world. The problem is that these American multinationals also lobby to export their laws to other continents and countries, using lobbying and other forms of bribery (see what happens in New Zealand for example). There was no reason to embargo Galaxy products without hearing the other side of the story (e.g. about prior art) and this is clearly not a case of counterfeiting; no Android-based product bears an Apple logo, except maybe in rogue, unofficial markets.

Linux is winning, so Microsoft and Apple fight hard.

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