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02.28.17

More Hardware Companies Adopt Software Patents and Become Like Patent Trolls

Posted in Hardware, Patents at 7:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Intel too has been lobbying for software patents (and its employee Peter Detkin co-founded Intellectual Ventures)

“We cannot hope to own it all, so instead we should try to create the largest possible market and insert ourselves as a small tax on that market.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft at the time (now a patent troll at Intellectual Ventures)

Summary: A glance at the ‘trollisation’ of large companies that are tempted by the prospects of patent bullying, even if it’s known to be damaging to one’s brand and a distraction from productive activities

Softbank and Inventergy

Qualcomm’s software patent attacks were the subject of some recent articles of ours, e.g. [1, 2] and so was Softbank, which had just bought ARM from the UK (one of the biggest technology companies here). As we noted earlier this month, Softbank was potentially becoming a Japanese patent troll. It looks like it may be about to happen, primarily as a by-product of inheritance of longtime patent bullies.

As the trolls’ apologist put it earlier today:

It is not clear what role, if any, Fortress played in the decision to file the suit against Apple, but it’s notable that such a high-profile case has been filed so close to the restructuring vote. The investment giant now looks set to become a significant force in the assertion market just as it is in the process of being taken over by Softbank, the Japanese tech and telecoms giant, in a $3.3 billion deal.

Maybe it’s time for Softbank to just abandon negotiations with Inventergy and dump this troll altogether. When firms resort to this kind of behaviour it is often a sign of misery and desperation. Softbank, if it was to allow itself to become another Qualcomm, would tarnish ARM’s powerful and highly valuable brand.

BlackBerry and Nokia

Speaking of large companies that flirt with patent trolling, the Canadian press has belatedly realised that Canadian giant BlackBerry is now effectively (although only in part) a patent troll. Earlier today it wrote, right there in the headline in fact, that “BlackBerry may have a brighter future as patent troll than as a software developer” and to quote the opening sentence: “BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY), the former smartphone and software technology developer run by CEO John Chen, may have a brighter future as patent troll than as a software developer with a portfolio of some 44,000 patents worldwide, many of which have been described by Envision IP as high quality based on reverse citations.”

“Speaking of large companies that flirt with patent trolling, the Canadian press has belatedly realised that Canadian giant BlackBerry is now effectively (although only in part) a patent troll.”Several months ago we showed that even corporate media called BlackBerry a "patent troll". Another new article speaks of how one large troll attacks another, as we pointed out a few weeks ago. This new report says that “Blackberry And Nokia ]are] In Court over patent infringement issues. BlackBerry is asking Nokia to obtain license for use of as many as 11 patents” (Nokia will probably demand something similar from BlackBerry, if it still makes any phones by then).

USAA

In other news from today — news that was quite widely spread in fact [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] — in spite of absence of software patents in India USAA managed to get an Indian firm to swallow the bait. As one report put it: “San Antonio-based financial services company USAA inked a deal with a software development firm in India to exclusively license some of its patented technology, which will be used to create new commercial software.

“India is a smart choice for such things because India barely has any patent trolls and it certainly does not tolerate patents lawsuits over software development.”“Persistent Systems plans to use the patents and security algorithms USAA developed to detect fraudulent activity on its customers’ accounts using an authentication system that considers risk and previous activity — beyond passwords and even biometric scanning.”

Whether or not this was patented, in India these patents have no potency, unless the eventual product is to be exported to the US, at which point injunctions can be pursued. But the point of the matter is, did the media need to focus so much on these software patents? It sounds as though USAA just merely contracted/hired some software developers to implement things. India is a smart choice for such things because India barely has any patent trolls and it certainly does not tolerate patents lawsuits over software development. We’ll say more about India in our next post.

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