01.30.16

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Electronic Frontier Foundation Talks About Xerox Software Patents, Evoking Memories of Microsoft’s Patent Trolls and Proxies

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 8:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Xerox: from making machines to just feeding patent trolls and turning into a USPTO-sanctioned troll

Printer photocopier

Summary: The company best known for (and internationally synonymous with) photocopiers is now little less than stockpile of patents which are being passed to patent trolls (desperate reach for money) and have become part of a broader problem

THE EFF has just explicitly denounced software patents and now it now takes on a software patent from Xerox, whose patents were famously used against Linux at the hand of a Microsoft-connected patent troll called Acacia. That was almost 9 years ago. We have a whole category for Fuji Xerox, which had connections to Novell, signed a patent deal with Microsoft (implicating Linux), helped Microsoft extort other companies that used Linux, and itself became a massive patent troll. Today’s Xerox is a very malicious company. It is just a patent parasite these days. There aren’t many actual products with the Xerox logo on them anymore, but Xerox still cannot be characterised as non-practicing (strictly speaking).

“We have a whole category for Fuji Xerox, which had connections to Novell, signed a patent deal with Microsoft (implicating Linux), helped Microsoft extort other companies that used Linux, and itself became a massive patent troll.”To quote yesterday’s EFF article (reposted by TechDirt soon thereafter): “This month’s Stupid Patent is awarded to Xerox, who on January 19, 2016 was awarded a patent on essentially the library circulation card, but done electronically.”

There is already press coverage about it. The trolls expert, Joe Mullin, said: “Once a month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s crack team of patent lawyers reaches deep into the US Patent Office’s giant sack of freshly issued patents. Then they pull out one of the shadiest, saddest, painfully obvious, never-should’ve-gotten-even-close-to-issuance patents and subject it to public scrutiny.

“This month, EFF attorney Vera Ranieri selected a highly questionable Xerox patent and yanked it into the bleak January sunlight. US Patent No. 9,240,000, entitled “Social Network for Enabling the Physical Sharing of Documents,” boils down to a system of sharing documents online. It looks like exactly the kind of patent that shouldn’t have made it through the system, considering new guidelines put in place as a result of the Supreme Court’s Alice Corp. v. CLS decision.”

“Not just trolls but large companies too are to blame. The inherent, core problem here is software patents.”The significance of Alice is rightly being brought up and it should be noted that Xerox patents have a tendency to travel around and end up being used as a weapon at the hands of patent trolls. Not just trolls but large companies too are to blame. The inherent, core problem here is software patents.

“Ford [...] has joined RPX,” says this new article from patent maximalists, and it has “taken a licence with Intellectual Ventures,” which is Microsoft’s biggest patent proxy/satellite (there are more and Intellectual Ventures attacked Linux with patents as recently as last year). RPX is an example of patents being pooled by large companies that act like patent trolls, whereas the latter is patent trolls galore (Intellectual Ventures reportedly has thousands of satellite ‘enforcement’ entities that take companies to court if they don’t obey the Mafia’s Don, Nathan Myhrvold).

To quote the EPO-funded site:

While GM stays away from the patent market, it looks like the plan for Sidecar may be to become a lot more engaged with it. I got in touch with company CEO Sunil Paul who said that he wasn’t able to talk publicly about the company’s strategy beyond what has been said to date. So, instead, I asked a couple of licensing experts how they might approach monetising the 6356838 patent and any future granted ones. Their response was, “yeah, good luck with that”; and there was only one reason – Alice.

The Alice case and the question of patentability in the USPTO after 2014′s Supreme Court ruling on Alice will be the subject of our next post.

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