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09.06.16

Microsoft’s Legacy at Nokia is Patent Shakedown and Feeding of Patent Trolls

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Another glimpse at where Nokia stands after Microsoft entryism and the ugly effects of patent trolling — something which Microsoft has played a considerable role promoting as it harms Free/Open Source software (FOSS) the most

ONCE UPON a time there was a mobile giant called Nokia, before Microsoft infiltrated the management (Elop), had it turn down Linux, and later turned it into a patent parasite, as expected by us all along. Any way one looks at it, Nokia is a patent parasite and Benjamin Henrion has said, “I booked http://nokiaplanp.com [P for patents] where that was the frenzy of its future. I was right.” See the latest articles in our Wiki for a detailed blow-by-blow chronology.

“Remember that IAM is funded by a troll of Nokia, MOSAID (now called Conversant, after all the negative publicity), armed with Nokia patents after Microsoft insisted on it (this is well documented).”According to IAM, Nokia is so large a patent parasite right now that it makes literally billions by taxing companies with its old patents. “Nokia Technologies head steps down just after company joins the $1 billion licensing club,” says the headline from IAM. Remember that IAM is funded by a troll of Nokia, MOSAID (now called Conversant, after all the negative publicity), armed with Nokia patents after Microsoft insisted on it (this is well documented). Microsoft has a certain ‘skill’ when it comes to creating and/or arming patent trolls, including the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures.

The other day we saw the article “Spotify Under Attack from Suspicious ‘Patent Troll’ Venadium LLC…” (probably not one among the thousands of satellites of Intellectual Ventures, but who knows)… [via]

We find it rather ironic, as the company which recently hired from Microsoft the patent mafioso who had armed patent trolls to attack rivals (including Linux, even after his departure) now faces the threat of an incognito patent troll. To quote this “Exclusive” report:

These companies often earn the dubious award of being known as “patent trolls,” of which Venadium may qualify within frustrated tech circles. The Eastern District of Texas is a well-known breeding ground and lawsuit haven for dubious, ‘patent troll’ type cases, with an 88% win for plaintiffs in patent infringement lawsuits, compared to a nationwide average of 68% (at least back in 2006).

The Eastern District of Texas and statistics about it put me in a long argument with the patent microcosm (they don’t like the characterisation of it as plaintiff-friendly), culminating in this citation that claims “36% win rate for plaintiffs”.

Regardless of the true numbers (can we trust lawyers more than we trust journalists?), here is a new article published very recently to explain how patent trolls operate.

How the current patent system actually hurts innovation (and how patent trolls are being fought)

[...]

One of the most common questions I get asked when talking to companies about their issues with innovation is “how do we prevent someone stealing our ideas? Should we get them all patented?”

Unfortunately, the answer to that isn’t so simple.

And that is because the current system for getting patents is in many ways no longer in line with how the world’s businesses work.

And worse than that, in many cases it is being abused by companies in ways which actually discourage innovation completely.

[...]

The issue seems to stem from the fact that the patent office just cannot check whether the people filing for a patent are in fact the original creators of the technology. For example, here is a patent granted to a person in 2002 for his description of “How to swing on a swing“.

[...]

If you want to prove that the patent was not valid, then the only way to prove that the lawsuit should not have happened in the first place is to have the legal system decide, analyse all the patents and claims, and determine once and for all whether the patent is valid.

This process can take 3+ years, and cost over $3 million.

This is much too expensive for most small companies to pay, so instead they are forced to pay the settlement claim to the patent troll.

[...]

A lot of the most innovative companies out there are making breakthroughs in the way we work, live and play using new software, whether we use it directly (a game on our phone) or to underpin their service (the vehicle prioritisation and routing within the Uber platform).

However, software is not always something that can be patented.

In some countries you can patent software (such as the USA, although this is often debated) while many other regions including most parts of Europe do not allow it.

As many software-based companies also operate on a global basis, this can make enforcement of patents extremely problematic, especially if software with different code is able to perform the same end-result.

In fact, there is a growing movement in Silicon Valley to open up patent portfolios and let anyone gain access to and build upon some of the most important software technology in the world. Echoing Henry Ford, who openly pined for the abolition of the patent system, Elon Musk has described patents as “intellectual property land mines” that inhibit progress.

That latter part speaks more specifically about software patents — a subject we shall focus on in our next post. Suffice to say, software patents are inherently incompatible with FOSS.

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