07.02.17

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Microsoft’s Troll Intellectual Ventures, via Dominion Harbor, Goes Patent-Trolling in China

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 9:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Remember that, according to press reports, Intellectual Ventures operates through literally thousands of entities

Dominion Harbor Group's Twitter account

Summary: The patent assault on the market, funded directly and indirectly by Microsoft and Bill Gates, will target companies that typically use Android or other Linux-based operating systems

FIVE DAYS ago, in response to Arnt Karlsen in a public mailing list, Bruce Perens (of Debian and Open Source Definition fame) wrote: “If you’d like to help with software patents, that would be nice, as none of the organizations that purportedly support Linux do. Linux Foundation is an [GPL] infringer’s club. Open Invention Network protects patents from Linux, not the other way around.”

“Linux Foundation is an [GPL] infringer’s club. Open Invention Network protects patents from Linux, not the other way around.”
      –Bruce Perens
Yes, very few entities and people out there actively fight against software patents. There are certainly too few companies that do this; Red Hat is actively pursuing software patents (including developers of systemd) and the debate is mostly off the headlines and out of the mainstream.

Not too long ago we wrote about Microsoft and Bill Gates growing their direct role in the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures (IV). We said we would keep an eye on it, so we have and it didn’t take long for us to find this Microsoft-connected patent troll making its move — in the form of Dominion Harbor. As a pro-trolls site put it the other day, they now go after companies in China:

Dominion Harbor scored the Kodak portfolio in Intellectual Ventures’ biggest known divestment to date, back in February. The 4,000 or so total patents changed hands in a $525 million deal back in 2012, which was financed by a coalition of tech companies including Chinese giant Huawei, which received a licence to the portfolio in the process. That leaves plenty of potential customers in the market. Pridham told IAM in February that Asian smartphone manufacturers represented a major opportunity for the portfolio, which includes a wide range of imaging and camera technologies.

Expect them to demand ‘protection’ money from all sorts of GNU/Linux and Android vendors (or initiate legal action).

“Expect them to demand ‘protection’ money from all sorts of GNU/Linux and Android vendors (or initiate legal action).”Another recent bit of news (only 3 days old) noted that the CTO of this Microsoft-connected patent troll had left. To quote the relevant part, “deversus, an Austin-based background checking software company, added John Leonard as director of product development. Leonard, who is co-inventor of four software patents, was most recently CTO at Dominion-Harbor Group in Dallas. He was also the co-founder of IdealAsset, which was acquired by Dominion-Harbor Group.”

Dominion Harbor is closely connected to Intellectual Ventures, which is headed (and was created) by Microsoft’s CTO and a close friend of Bill Gates.

“Dominion Harbor is closely connected to Intellectual Ventures, which is headed (and was created) by Microsoft’s CTO and a close friend of Bill Gates.”In other news, PTAB’s invalidation of patents from this troll is now being challenged by CAFC — the same court that previously served a legal blow to the troll (having taken away its cluster of software patents, alleging these were in violation of the First Amendment). “In a short opinion,” as Patently-O put it, “the Federal Circuit has rejected a PTAB IPR determination finding IV’s patent invalid and has remanded for reconsideration of the case. U.S. Patent No. 7,382,771. Because the patent at issue here was filed prior to March 2013, the pre-AIA first-to-invent rules apply.”

They say pre-AIA, but does that matter if judged on the basis of patent scope? Moreover, as we shall show in our next post, AIA itself is under attack right now, partly funded by and supported by Microsoft.

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