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07.15.17

Amazon is Stockpiling Terrible Patents and Using These for Competitive Advantage

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Servers at 7:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An Amazonian floodgate of bad patents

Amazon

Summary: Demonstrating the real purpose of patent hoards, Amazon too ‘pulls a Microsoft’ and shields its dominance by an atmosphere of sheer fear

MANY older articles of ours spoke about Microsoft’s Azure threat to AWS, namely a patent threat [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. We last alluded to it in our previous article. Microsoft can barely compete with the likes of AWS, so it tries gaining leverage by threats (usually patent threats and innuendo, maybe even threats over licensing of Windows/Office). Such is the nature of a company full of liars, crooks, and managers who bribe. They still operate like a cult.

Amazon too, however, is somewhat of a patent parasite, albeit less aggressive than Microsoft (for example, it rarely initiates lawsuits). It habitually promotes software patents not just in the US — something for which it’s hard to forgive Amazon.

In the month of June Amazon received a lot of negative press over patents. Caleb Chen wrote succinctly the following:

Jeff Bezos’s Amazon has been granted a patent for a tool called “Physical Store Online Shopping Control,” which helps brick and mortar locations control users’ online shopping experience when they are at the store and on the store’s WiFi network. If a customer searches for a product or competitor, Amazon would be able to “control” that online experience by redirecting, blocking, or otherwise tampering with your internet traffic.

It’s all about this US patent, which some readers told us about. It certainly looks as though the US patent office granted a software patent that would certainly be invalidated by either PTAB or courts (if tested). A widely-cited report about it said that “Amazon’s long been a go-to for people to online price compare while shopping at brick-and-mortars. Now, a new patent granted to the company could prevent people from doing just that inside Amazon’s own stores.” [via]

This made quite a lot of headlines at the time, e.g. [1, 2], but we didn’t consider it urgent enough to cover until yesterday’s report alleging that Amazon exploits its almost fully dominant position/near-monopoly in the domain of AWS in order to protect itself from patent lawsuits. See this article from Amazon-friendly media:

Amazon Web Services drops controversial patent clause from standard user agreement

Amazon Web Services has quietly dropped a controversial provision from its user agreement that essentially forced customers to agree that they could never file a patent infringement lawsuit against the public cloud vendor.

We are guessing that Amazon did not like this coverage, whereupon it was changed.

This article was later retitled “Amazon Web Services adds IP protection while dropping controversial patent clause from user agreement” (with the URL changing also).

The new title suggests that they made a defensive move, perhaps in response to what Microsoft had done earlier this year. It still leaves customers of small hosting companies (without a big pile of patents) rather vulnerable. That’s not a desirable status quo, is it?

Microsoft-Owned LinkedIn is Ramping Up Software Patents Pursuits, Maybe Lawsuits

Posted in Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft is also linked with a lot of patent trolls, including the world’s biggest

Links

Summary: A quick look at some of the patterns and priorities when it comes to Microsoft’s patent strategy, which typically involves coercion, extortion and sometimes (when coercion or extortion fail) litigation

TECHRIGHTS has already published a lot of articles (earlier this year) about how Microsoft used Azure and patent trolls to effectively tax GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. It’s not a very cunning strategy, but it might be effective. The same strategy is being used against OEMs. The story in a nutshell is, expect AWS customers (or anyone who uses GNU/Linux and Free software without paying rent to Microsoft) to be put at risk of attacks from Microsoft-connected trolls. A lot of people out there are still not seeing it (or simply choose not to see it).

“They work for Microsoft now.”In the coming days or weeks (we still catch up with a lot of news) we intend to show the role Microsoft still plays in all this. There is lobbying, manipulation, and deception. Two days ago Microsoft-affiliated people were writing about software patents over at Watchtroll, a site that even attacks people such as judges in order to promote software patents. It’s like a lobbying group. Who wrote it? “Sara Harrington is vice president of legal intellectual property, product, privacy and Pierre Keeley is director of patents at LinkedIn. Kent Richardson and Erik Oliver are partners of the Richardson Oliver Law Group. Note, in December 2016, LinkedIn was purchased by Microsoft, Inc., and this series represents the pre-purchase patent strategy.”

“Expect them to use these patents for blackmail and competitive leverage, even if by lawsuits (in case ‘protection’ money doesn’t get coughed out). That’s just the Microsoft way… “Whatever. They work for Microsoft now. They said that “LinkedIn [had] increased its organic patent filings to 0.42 filings per $1 million R&D in 2015. While this was above the 0.25 target, these additional filings helped to close the gap created by previous low rates. In order to increase the filing rate, LinkedIn needed to fundamentally shift its patent culture. Timetables and goals were discussed and set, and several targeted projects were launched.”

Expect them to use these patents for blackmail and competitive leverage, even if by lawsuits (in case ‘protection’ money doesn’t get coughed out). That’s just the Microsoft way…

Sometimes, even increasingly, patents get passed by Microsoft to patent trolls so that Microsoft gets less of the blame for aggression.

Curiously enough, based on this new report, patents on software might soon be invalidated by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Yet again. This time they are being used against Microsoft, impacting both Excel and Dynamics CRM:

A Minnesota software company that has accused Microsoft of infringing its data-mining patents told a Federal Circuit panel Thursday that the trial court improperly narrowed the scope of its patents.

MasterMine Software Inc., whose patented software purports to simplify “customer relationship management” data, is challenging the trial court’s construction of a key claim term in the patents, which doomed MasterMine’s chance at proving that features found in Microsoft’s Excel and Dynamics CRM products infringe the patents.

Remember the case i4i v Microsoft in which Microsoft Office got challenged as well. It’s a tough call. Should we support Microsoft in efforts to invalidate these software patents or should MasterMine (a real company, akin to i4i) be cheered simply because it hurts Microsoft?

We encourage Microsoft to join the good fight and call for the end of software patents. But we don’t expect Microsoft to ever do that.

European Commission Betrays the Public by Promoting Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents named

Summary: Software patents named by the European Commission as a given rather than challenged in line with everything that the Parliament, EPC, and European public generally insist on

THE EPO has gone way too far with patent scope. It threatens Europe as a whole, for reasons we’ll show in the coming days (in relation to the US where patent scope is belatedly being narrowed).

“Sadly, however, the European Commission has become part of the problem.”The EPO recently dropped the guillotine on a lot of patents pertaining to plants and seeds, but it ought to go further with a drop of software patents too, as per the directive, the rules and so on. There are many articles these days about the EPO’s decision to eliminate patents in bulk, notably patents on life. Publications are writing about it not just in English but also in French, in German and so on. (via [1, 2]).

Why stop there? As we put it a few days ago, "The EPO Should Throw Away All Software Patents in the Same Way It Threw Away Patents on Plants and Animals" (as per input/instructions from politicians).

“…Elżbieta Bieńkowska from the Commission cares more about the UPC (Trojan horse for software patents) than about justice…”Sadly, however, the European Commission has become part of the problem. As we showed earlier this month, Elżbieta Bieńkowska from the Commission cares more about the UPC (Trojan horse for software patents) than about justice, and the FFII’s founder wrote yesterday that the “European Commission [is] promoting “Responsible Innovation” via software patents” (via the FFII’s president).

To quote what he wrote:

The pattern of promoting software patentability is similar to that of asylum law (e.g. the principle of non-refoulement). There is an agenda that must be followed, beyond discussion, backed by top level judges. Studies must somehow legitimate it, at least in their introductory part or in the executive summary. Discussion about the fundamental issues is systematically evaded. Instead you do have pointless discussions about how to identify the real invention or the real refugee. If you dig down deeper, however, you find that the studies do provide answers to the fundamental question of effects of the touted policy vs the unthinkable alternative, and even ones that are quite devastating to the touted solution. Since it is difficult to completely suppress the truth, those who order the study are satisfied with an executive summary that can be served to fool the public with help of willing journalists who just copy and paste from press releases.

“Responsible Innovation” is the latest catchphrase apparently.

As someone put it: “Innovation killer! This is where a phrase or line of code can be copyrighted and making logical programming within a language, a minefield.”

“Furthermore,” it says in a new report, “we also consider patents on computer-implemented inventions (CII)…”

“What on Earth are they doing and what hope is there that the Commission will not stab software developers in their backs?”Then there’s this: “When the open source and open are applied to the patent system” (FOSS is not compatible with software patents because of its distribution paradigm).

Note at the bottom: “This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 731940…”

What on Earth are they doing and what hope is there that the Commission will not stab software developers in their backs? They have done this for ages (e.g. with FRAND, discrimination in procurement and so on). We’ve already given many examples where European software developers — including Free software developers — directly suffered from such patents. Does the Commission listen to anyone but huge corporations that are often multinationals rather than European corporations?

As Patently-O incidentally put it yesterday, in some areas “time-to-market has become shorter, and, likewise, product life cycles have become shorter.”

“Why is the Commission — like the EPO — besieging the software industry?”This is one of the many reasons software patents are unsuitable. Patently-O adds: “Competent practitioners should consider several things. One is to recognize that diligent prosecution is becoming more important for clients. Another is that examining whether to discuss with clients the use of Track One, PPH, or the pilot program (or the program — forget its name — that allows for accelerated examination when there’s an older inventor named).”

It doesn’t matter how quickly patents are granted (infringement penalties aren’t calculated since the time of grant); the very concept of patents on algorithms is obscene. Even the US is moving away from that grave mistake. Why is the Commission — like the EPO — besieging the software industry?

Science|Business Quotes Michel Barnier, Then Speculates Battistelli’s Way to Promote Erroneous Perception of UPC Inevitability

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 4:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Science|Business

Summary: Éanna Kelly of Science|Business publishes some direct quotes from Barnier, but then goes further by reinforcing false belief that UPC is just a matter of time and only minor technical details are up for debate

YESTERDAY we wrote about the latest from Barnier, who had promoted the UPC for many years. He too is not too optimistic about it anymore. The EPO lies about it in public (unbridled optimism and outright lies), but this optimism is not shared by many.

“Barnier,” according to friends of the EPO (pushers of fake news for Battistelli earlier this year and also heavily connected to Microsoft as we noted over the years), claimed that “London may not keep the pharma & life sciences division of Europe’s unified #PatentCourt after #Brexit” (not exact quote, maybe not paraphrasing either).

As we explained before, however (many times), with Brexit the UK cannot proceed with ratifying the UPC at all. So if there’s an “after Brexit”, forget about the UPC altogether.

Here is what the underlying article says (with exact quotes):

“We are looking into it,” said EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, speaking on Wednesday at a preview of the next round of talks, due to begin next Monday.

[...]

“We’ll look at the two agencies [the European Medicine Agency and the European Banking Authority] and we’ll look at the other parts of the system which mechanically will have to leave the territory of the UK,” Barnier said.

It is already known that the European Medicines Agency, which approves drugs for all EU countries, and the European Banking Authority, responsible for bank stress tests, will leave London after Brexit.

A lot of the rest in this article isn’t quotes but merely speculations — mainly Battistelli-leaning ones — about the UPC. As this publication has a track record of EPO puff pieces, one has to be careful of such speculations. Last year they gave a platform to law firms [1, 2], never quite ensuring a proper balance.

“Incredibly enough, the said article quotes Battistelli (the Liar in Chief) almost as much it quotes fellow countryman Barnier…”Nevertheless, linking to the above, Team UPC went into cheerleading mode and said: “It is reported that in a meeting about the Brexit negotiations, Michel Barnier, current chief negotiator for the EU, mentioned that Brussels is reviewing whether London can keep its Central Division of the Unified Patent Court after Brexit.”

It cannot even have the UPC after Brexit.

Incredibly enough, the said article quotes Battistelli (the Liar in Chief) almost as much it quotes fellow countryman Barnier (his quotes are above, boiling down to a sentence or two).

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