Summary: The troll which had gone after Microsoft (for cash) also went after Android developers based on a new report
Katie sez, “The video profiles software developer Austin Meyer, who is the target of a patent troll lawsuit involving a company called Uniloc, which owns a patent for the “System and Method for Preventing Unauthorized Access to Electronic Data.” Meyer’s flight simulator app X-Plane, like most paid applications on the Android market, uses the authorization system. Uniloc purchased the patent in question at a bankruptcy proceeding. Despite the enormous risk, and the enormous cost just to defend against a patent suit, Meyer is resolved to do so. The broader point of the video is that something needs to be done to stop patent trolls from simply buying patents in order to intimidate innovators into paying them a settlement. Patent trolls are a huge tax on innovation and add nothing to the marketplace.”
Reason.com, quite a popular Web site of alternative thinking, writes about “How Patent Trolls Kill Innovation”. It says:
“My statement to someone that is the victim of a patent troll lawsuit is that you are completely screwed,” says Austin Meyer, who is himself the target of a so-called “patent troll” lawsuit.
Meyer is a software developer and aviation enthusiast. His two passions intersected in the ’90s when he created a flight simulator called X-Plane, which quickly grew in popularity, outlasting even the once-popular Microsoft Flight Simulator. As many software developers do, Meyer made his application available on mobile devices like the iPhone and Android. And this is where he first ran into trouble.
What we must recognise, however, is that not only trolls are the problem; scope of patenting is a problem too. But since patent trolls usually use software patents (correlation was demonstrated before) a path in the right direction would be to eliminate software patents. In some sense, trolls are a symptom of software patents. █
Update: I have just found an E-mail that Uniloc had sent me through a PR proxy to whitewash its shameless activities. It said:
Good afternoon. I saw your article on Techrights entitled “Apple’s and Microsoft’s Robbery of Knowledge Using Patents, i4i Case Might Reach SCOTUS” and found it extremely interesting. As you know, Sony Corporation, McAfee, Activision, Quark and two other companies have been sued by Uniloc USA for patent infringement. The suits stem from a massive case against Microsoft (in which Uniloc initially won $388 million in damages – the 5th largest award for Software infringement ever) and the suit is remarkable because of its potential reach: the technology in question became so popular as to be virtually ubiquitous today. The case against Microsoft is currently on appeal.
The lawsuit mentioned below follows closely on the heels of a wave of other suits by small businesses against goliaths (including two filed last month – Ebay was sued for $3.8 billion by XPRT and Apple, Google, Microsoft and others were sued by NTP, as you know, over patented smartphone technology), indicating small businesses are becoming more aggressive in fighting for their intellectual property rights.
By way of background, in 1992 software companies were losing billions to casual software copying. Uniloc was the first to combine the concept of product key and Hardware ID, and using both they created an airtight registration system (before this invention, most software relied on just a product key that Tom, Dick and Harry could take to college, give to their girlfriends and before you know it – millions of dollars in lost sales). For the first time, Uniloc’s invention locked software to a specific computer, making this casual copying next to impossible.
After patenting the invention in the early 90s, Uniloc commercialized the product through a licensing deal with IBM, and then began talks with Microsoft. Microsoft signed a non-disclosure agreement to not reverse engineer the product. But, as Microsoft’s own internal documents show – that’s exactly what they did, then used the software in Windows XP. Microsoft is a bellwether for significant trends in the software publishing industry, many other companies – including the ones named in the lawsuit – observed their success and took the information that Microsoft had made public to pursue or develop their own software activation systems.
Please let me know if you would like to speak with Brad Davis, CEO of Uniloc USA; I’d be happy to coordinate a conversation.
Thank you for your consideration.
Hellerman Baretz Communications LLC
1325 Avenue of the Americas, 28th floor
New York, NY 10019
My reply was:
Will it be possible to do a short interview with Mr. Davis via E-mail. I
would love to hear his side of the story.
Kelsey’s reply was:
Thank you for your interest in hearing Brad’s side of the story. I will check with Brad to see what his availability for today or tomorrow looks like for a short interview via email. When is best for you? Also, would you first email Brad directly?
Suffice to say, seeing that he would have to face some hard questions, Brad was never giving an interview. To trolls, justifying what they do is hard.