12.06.16

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More Examples of Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Taxing Linux, Even After Microsoft ‘Joined’ (Paid) the Linux Foundation

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 9:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent deal spin
“Agreements” mean patent settlements

Summary: A quick look at the past week’s news and clues about Microsoft’s (and its broad army of patent trolls) strategy for taxing Linux, or imposing bundling at zero cost (to Microsoft)

THE STATE of patent trolling in the US is pretty bad and to make matters worse China is now emulating the US system by patenting almost everything and harbouring patent trolls that use rubbish patents (not even with their own name on these).

One aggregator of patents (lots of rubbish in one big pool) that we wrote about before is RPX. It’s like a massive patent troll whose members include Microsoft. According to this blog post from IAM, changes are afoot as a Senior Vice-President jumps ship:

Dan McCurdy, senior vice-president at RPX with responsibility for data and technology solutions, is to leave the defensive patent aggregator to become a partner with strategic IP consultancy Quatela Lynch. He will join on 1st January 2017, when its name will also change to Quatela Lynch McCurdy. The move comes just weeks after Laura Quatela, who founded the firm with former Kodak chief IP officer Tim Lynch in 2014, was named as the new chief legal officer of Lenovo, sitting on the executive committee and reporting directly to its CEO. Quatela will remain the majority shareholder of Quatela Lynch McCurdy and will act as a special adviser to the firm on non-conflicting projects.

It is meanwhile worth reminding readers that Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s biggest patent troll (with thousands of satellite firms of its own), is imploding, however this extortion and gate-keeping tool, which habitually attacks Linux, still plays a role of in the operations of Linux-based devices (which it taxes).

See this new article that says “a new intellectual property agreement gives Netflix the opportunity to license TiVo’s patent portfolios, as well as patents for over-the-top (OTT) offerings, which are held by Intellectual Ventures.”

How much of that money flows into the pockets of Microsoft and Bill Gates (a stakeholder in the troll at a personal capacity)? It’s hard to tell, but as we noted here before, Microsoft loves Linux patent tax. With China going crazy over patents, Microsoft recently managed to blackmail Xiaomi over its Linux products (we believe that only Huawei remains untainted by this Microsoft tax) and looking into Microsoft’s patent settlement with Xiaomi (they don’t call it a “settlement”, but it is one), IAM writes:

In the opening plenary of the day, featuring Xiaomi’s Paul Lin and Microsoft’s Micky Minhas, the ground-breaking deal announced in May between the two companies was, not surprisingly, the first topic for discussion. IP was a major driver of the agreement, as the Chinese smartphone maker acquired 1,500 patents from the software giant; but the transaction was premised on a much broader collaboration between the pair, with Microsoft applications now set to be included on Xiaomi mobile devices. Minhas, recently appointed as Microsoft’s head of licensing, revealed that the deal had taken a year to unfold after a senior Xiaomi executive had expressed the Chinese’s company’s desire to grow its IP portfolio. He added that one of the key drivers in making it all happen was the relationship between some of the key executives involved in the negotiations. Minhas, Microsoft head of business development Peggy Johnson and Xiaomi’s head of strategic cooperation Wang Xiang, all previously worked at Qualcomm, so there was a level of familiarity; while a face to face meeting between the respective company CEOs in March 2016 largely resolved outstanding issues and advanced the negotiation to the point where it became a matter of getting the contractual terms refined. But what really mattered more than anything, it seems, is that both companies had taken the time to understand each other’s perspectives and needs, and that both were fully focused on finding a win-win outcome. Goodwill, rather than good friendships, are the key to successful IP deal-making. Though, of course, it also helps to get along.

The part about “Microsoft applications now set to be included on Xiaomi mobile devices,” as we explained early in the year, is where patent extortion against Linux comes into play. The ‘new’ Microsoft just tries hard to hide what it does, either attacking Linux through trolls or compelling OEMs to ‘pay’ Microsoft for Linux/Android by shoving Microsoft malware into them (sucking up user data and sending it to Microsoft, never mind vendor lock-in through proprietary formats and code).

Don’t believe Microsoft’s claims that it has changed or that it “loves Linux”. It’s still the same old malicious company. It just learned how to lie/mislead better.

Quite a few GNU/Linux firms and even the Linux Foundation are now being paid by Microsoft (like silence money), so don’t expect them to speak out against this injustice.

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