07.15.17

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.

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