03.03.16

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Shortly After Massive Layoffs ‘King of Patents’ IBM is Using Software Patents to Sue Much Smaller Companies

Posted in America, IBM, Patents at 9:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not your father’s IBM

Ginni Rometty

Photo source (modified slightly): The 10 Most Powerful Women in Technology Today

Summary: IBM is becoming predatory as the business is sinking and all it has got left is a big pile of patents, including a lot of software patents that it now weaponises

WHEN the corporate media covers the problem with patents and suggests a reform it often alludes to “patent trolls” but not to large companies that are equally bad if not worse. They are in many ways the culprits, as it’s them and their people — like David Kappos in IBM’s case — who push hard for software patents (that patent trolls too are using).

The other day the EFF's Nazer showed how software patents in the US do so much damage for benefit of very few people, who are parasites. Nazer did not mention software patents explicitly and as usual he focused on “trolls”. As an article about it has just put it: “”Personalized content” is a phrase so vague that it could mean just about anything. That quality makes it just about perfect for use by a patent troll. This month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s patent lawyers have honed in on a patent describing a way of “presenting personalized content relating to offered products and services,” owned by Phoenix Licensing LLC, a patent-holding company controlled by Richard Libman, an Arizona man who’s sued more that 100 companies.” [...] Wordy language notwithstanding, the patents look like the type of “do it on a computer” claims that should get tossed out as “almost surely invalid” under the Alice v. CLS Bank Supreme Court precedent, EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer explains in his blog post. “Unsurprisingly, given that its patents are so vulnerable to challenge under the Alice standard, it has filed all of these lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas.” That plaintiff-friendly court is less likely to invalidate patents under Alice.”

“The company is a patent aggressor and we cannot help but wonder how the Linux Foundation feels about IBM not only lobbying for software patents but also suing companies using these.”Since it’s about Alice, one immediately knows it involves abstract software patents. But it’s too expensive to deal with in a court of law. Even software patents which one knows for sure are not truly valid can be used as a weapon but not only by patent trolls but also by a patent monster like IBM, which always takes the lions’s share of patents at the USPTO. Well, IBM has just announced major layoffs; but worse — it’s becoming a patent aggressor more so than in the recent past. “IBM can sue any webshop with those 4 broad patents from the late nineties,” Benjamin Henrion wrote this morning. “IBM is suing Groupon with 4 software patents,” he added, “probably trivial ones,” pointing to two articles [1, 2]. IBM is not responding to a company that’s suing it first. To quote the first report: “IBM has sued online deals marketplace Groupon for infringing four of its patents, including two that emerged from Prodigy, the online service launched by IBM and partners ahead of the World Wide Web.”

The latter article says: “IBM is suing Groupon over alleged patent infringement, court documents revealed Wednesday. It’s the latest in a series of lawsuits the computing pioneer has filed against tech companies that it says rely on groundwork it laid.

“IBM filed a lawsuit in Delaware district court alleging that the Chicago-based online marketplace ignored repeated alerts stemming to 2011 that it was unfairly using IBM inventions.”

“It’s often said that patents are only trophies for vanity until a company is collapsing, whereupon it chooses to sue rivals or sell patents to aggressive entities, including trolls.”Remember that IBM is pushing India to grant patents on software. It’s the same thing it did in Europe and in New Zealand, so shame on IBM. It not only amasses software patents (while using OIN to pretend that it’s all fine and dandy) but also uses them for litigation, not just against large companies (like Sun) and not just using hardware patents. The face IBM does not want you to see is IBM without the “open” makeup (openwashing of everything including proprietary, grossly overpriced mainframes). The company is a patent aggressor and we cannot help but wonder how the Linux Foundation feels about IBM not only lobbying for software patents but also suing companies using these.

It’s often said that patents are only trophies for vanity until a company is collapsing, whereupon it chooses to sue rivals or sell patents to aggressive entities, including trolls. IBM proves that right.

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