08.17.14

The Microsoft Patent Trolls: Android Extortion, Vringo Versus Google, and Intellectual Ventures

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 5:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Roundup of news about patent aggression by Microsoft and some of its proxies

A NEW article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols talks about patents. “Patent trolls under attack, but not dead yet” is the article’s headline. It does not necessarily speak about small trolls but also a corporation, Microsoft, which created several patent trolls, armed several patent trolls (to harass Microsoft’s competition), and is engaging in racketeering against successful producing companies, just like all patent trolls do. One glaring error in the article from Vaughan-Nichols is this bunch of numbers which are not substantiated (no link, citation, or even a source). He says: “It’s not just the trolls seeking to make a fast buck from honest companies that are abusing the broken American patent system. Microsoft has used its “Android” patents to profit from Android OEMs since 2010. Indeed, Microsoft’s most profitable mobile operating system, to the tune of approximately $3.4 billion, was Android, not Windows Phone 8.”

Where does this number come from? This may be completely bogus.

“Now,” he adds, “thanks to China, we finally know what’s in Microsoft’s Android patent portfolio. And it appears that Samsung, at least, is saying, “Wait a minute!” about paying Microsoft for these patents.

“Slowly, way too slowly, the Supreme Court is starting to rein in patent abuse. In Nautilus v. Biosig, the Court ruled that for a patent to be valid, its creators had to describe its essential elements of their invention clearly enough that an expert in in the field could understand it with “reasonable certainty.”

“Yes, that’s right, before this decision, even if an expert couldn’t figure out how the heck a patent was supposed to work, you could still patent an idea.”

Vaughan-Nichols then mentions other landmark cases and the apparent gradual-but-undeniable demise of software patents.

But where does that leave us? Even if Microsoft did not engage in all this FUD and extortion, it would still be able to do it by proxy. Vaughan-Nichols mentions SCO at the start of the article; Microsoft still uses such a strategy. In order to eliminate the threat as a whole we need to eliminate the patents.

Well, in prior years we showed how Microsoft had armed Vringo with patents which it then used against Google. According to this news, after wasting much time and money, Google is found innocent of infringement: “Google Inc. (GOOG:US) won its bid to overturn a $30.5 million patent-infringement verdict, a reversal that sent shares of Vringo Inc. (VRNG:US) down 72 percent.

“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington determined that the Vringo patents in the case were invalid, according to an opinion on the court’s website toda”

Here is how a patent trolls expert put it:

Vringo’s win over Google was one of the biggest and most public jury wins for a “patent troll” in recent years. It won $30 million from a jury verdict in 2012, far less than the half-billion-dollar verdict it was seeking.

But last year, the judge overseeing the case revived Vringo’s hopes, ordering Google to pay a running royalty amounting to 1.36 percent of US AdWords sales. Those additional payments could have been more than $200 million annually, pushing Vringo investors toward the billion-dollar payday they were pining for.

These articles should outline more clearly Microsoft’s role in the lawsuit. This was, as alleged by numerous sources (not just us), somewhat of a proxy war by Microsoft. It’s reminiscent of the SCO case, which Microsoft helped fund.

Then there are the trolls who funded and armed by Bill Gates. One of these, Monsanto, is mentioned in this article about counter-action:

Today, just three companies – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – account for about half of all commercial seed sales. More and more, agricultural patents are used to increase the control these and similar companies wield over access to the seeds with which farmers feed the world and – especially in the Global South – themselves and their families.

Bill Gates has profited by monopolising seeds. He lobbied for the seeds monopolies while investing in them (for profit). His good friend Nathan, the world’s biggest patent trolls (who was bankrolled by Gates), has also done this for profit along with Gates, especially when it comes to the energy sector. They are profiting by lobbying politicians to adopt energy methodologies from which they would profit. There is new right now about Intellectual Ventures (Gates-backed) hoarding patents on wind power:

Analysis: Patent trolls target wind power

One of the biggest “patent trolls” is moving into American wind technology for the first time. Intellectual Ventures (IV) of Bellevue, Washington has quietly applied for at least five high-quality and widely applicable patents for reducing noise and birds strikes at utility-scale wind projects.

A response has been posted about this in TechDirt:

Wind Power Monthly (I had no idea such a thing existed) has an article about how Intellectual Ventures is apparently targeting its patent trollery towards wind power, having filed a bunch of patents on very broad and basic concepts related to wind power. Of course, IV is trying to hide its involvement here by using one of its many shell companies. For reasons that are beyond me, Wind Power Monthly declines to name the shell companies. It’s not clear why it does this — even withholding the name after it got IV to confirm that it’s an IV shell. There seems to be no journalistic reason for withholding the name, but Wind Power Monthly still does it.

The Microsoft-funded CCIA is meanwhile focusing a lot of its efforts going after trolls, urging the government to launch subpoenas. The CCIA’s Levy writes: “We’re also looking forward to seeing what the FTC learns about patent privateering. The study could be our first real chance to expose the tactics of companies who have been quietly using patent trolls to do their dirty work.

“There’s no time to waste. Patent trolls won’t stop on their own, and we need all the ammunition we can get.

“Launch subpoenas!”

Several years ago there was pressure on the FTC. It seemed too reluctant to do anything about patent trolls such as Intellectual Ventures, which had heavily lobbied the government along with Bill Gates. Hopefully things are about to change.

The bottom line is, the resolution lies within patent scope. But it’s also important to comprehend how Microsoft attacks Linux by proxy, not just in secrecy by means of extortion.

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