Michael Bloomberg, patents maximalist and Wall Street’s guardian
Summary: How a couple of companies in a dispute (Microsoft attempts to ban and/or tax Google’s Android/Linux) get characterised as allies in plutocrats-owned media
Earlier this week the patent lawyers wrote about a notorious patent troll called Erich Spangenberg [1, 2, 3]. This alludes to an article we cited here beforehand and it says: “The New York Times has a couple of articles (here and here) today that focus on Erich Spangenberg, the CEO of IPNav, identified by RPX as the US’s most litigious NPE. There’s a lot of colour in both pieces, none of which will comes as a surprise to experienced operators in the IP markets. But in terms of new information there is very little; though one fact did stand out: the deal offered to Parallel Iron, an SME which got $250,000 from IPNav in return for a fixed-term exclusive licence to monetise its patents: “Parallel Iron would keep 42.5 percent of any settlement revenue and verdicts, with the rest split between IPNav and the lawyers it hired.” That strikes me as probably being a lot more than those patents would have a chance of generating were Parallel Iron to do the monetisation job itself.”
The New York Times article was also mentioned by vocal patent critics:
The New York Times goes after patent trolls in a long review in the Sunday paper link here. Its author, David Segal, thinks he has found the worst offender, Erich Spangenberg, whose company, IPNav, even has a classy website, link here on which it claims to have “Monetized to date: $610,549,103″ and makes its sales pitch to existing and prospective clients.
IP Nav was criticised by Troll Tracker, which uses some humour. These raiders/trolls are no laughing matter. This is extortion, akin to what Intellectual Ventures does at a much bigger scale. We should call for prosecution.
The same site as above (patent lawyers and boosters) spreads the dubious claim that Microsoft and Google have a lot in common when it comes to patents, bolstered perhaps by this sensationalist report/bizarre article calling it alliance between those two companies. Susan Decker, who routinely promotes this type of thinking, pretends that Google and Microsoft are in the same camp because they agree on something which just about every company agrees on. They “seek to curb litigation practices of firms demanding royalties,” it says, but what is Microsoft if not exactly that? This summary is misleading, but the same poor reporting has spread elsewhere following the report from patent booster Bloomberg (a plutocrats with press ownership and Wall Street agenda). This is far from the first time we complain about pro-patents bias in Bloomberg. Even yesterday, to give a brand-new example, one could find another one of those ridiculous “Intellectual Property” reports, again reinforcing the fiction about Google and Microsoft sidling (right at the start). Shame on this ongoing attempt to lump together copyrights with trademarks and with patents. It’s a deliberate way to legitimise patent monopolies and it has been going on in this paper/channel for quite some time. They also lump in patents with “Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage ” (scroll down to the bottom). Appalling. Readers should complain.
Looking at some actual realities, Microsoft is behind many such trolls and Microsoft itself acts like a troll. Why compare it to the victim, Google? Microsoft has been trying hard to embargo Google products and even filed antitrust complaints by proxy. Now there is this other weird motion to prevent Google from competing:
The Android market has really taken off in India with majority of Smartphones in the country running on Google’s Android platform. However, DNA and PTI has brought in a shocking news, which says that Telecom Minister, Kapil Sibal plans to ban Android in India, accusing the mobile OS to carry adult applications which are unsuitable for minors.
It is worth exploring if some pressure from Android rivals played a role here. In any event, here is another new development in Microsoft’s patent fight against Android:
Microsoft, that devilish litigation machine, now wants to win by summary judgment in the Seattle RAND patent case against Motorola on the next question to be tried, whether Motorola violated a duty of good faith as to its RAND licensing commitments. Motorola, naturally, opposes [PDF]. It wants its day in court with a jury, not just this judge, who keeps beating Motorola up. At least in Seattle courtrooms, it seems Microsoft can do no wrong.
To describe Google and Microsoft as being in an “alliance” on patents is very deceiving. Microsoft engages in racketeering against Android, which really merits a jail sentence, not some fairy tale or an illusion of friendship. Bloomberg should grow out of its habit of deceiving the public. █