06.05.18

Gemini version available ♊︎

Microsoft’s Patent Trolls Continue to Attack Microsoft’s Rivals, Including These Companies’ Use of Free/Open Source Software

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

While Microsoft sells ‘protection’ (euphemistically named “Azure IP Advantage”) from itself and its patent trolls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]

Microsoft and trolls

Summary: While the media keeps obsessing over delusions like a ‘new’ Microsoft or “Microsoft loves Linux” the company carries on propping up patent trolls (which it then provides ‘protection’ from, but only if one chooses Azure) and threatening GNU/Linux OEMs, opting for the use the patents for bundling their ‘apps’ (an exchange along the lines of, “put our apps in Android or we’ll sue you”)

DO NOT for a single moment be misled by Microsoft’s latest charm offensive, which seems to have been timed so as to distract from Apple’s big announcements in an annual event. It would be spurious to tell our readers that Microsoft is not a friend of Free/Open Source software (FOSS). We spent about a decade writing about that; it’s a subject which we covered in literally thousands of posts. It’s worth noting that the new chief of GitHub will be the same person who infiltrated GNU/Linux through Novell with Mono, so these are entryism experts (he had moved between Microsoft and FOSS — jobs-wise — several times, along the lines of’a revolving doors’ model). Microsoft used Xamarin (which he was the chief of) to literally obliterate ‘dangerous’ (to Microsoft) FOSS projects like RoboVM before Microsoft ‘compensated’ them for the trouble (in the form of a takeover, i.e. money and cushy jobs/salaries). But this post isn’t about GitHub. Instead, let’s focus on patent news that’s connected to Microsoft. The TomTom lawsuit backfired in the media (even Jim Zemlin berated them for it) and ever since then Microsoft chose indirection. It’s hiding behind proxies such as SCO (but for patents, not copyrights).

“A lot of the money has been put into this patent troll by Microsoft and Bill Gates (at a personal capacity, too). They were willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars just to prop up this troll.”A few days ago professor James Bessen (a patent trolls expert), via Brian J. Love (another scholar who is sceptical of the current patent law), highlighted this new article from the exceptionally Bill Gates-friendly Forbes. It’s about Intellectual Ventures (IV), Microsoft’s biggest patent troll which we’ve been tracking and reporting on for over a decade. “Self-proclaimed a new way of invention, patent troll IV has been a loser for its investors (& targets too),” Bessen remarked. A lot of the money has been put into this patent troll by Microsoft and Bill Gates (at a personal capacity, too). They were willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars just to prop up this troll. It’s no ordinary troll but a massive network thereof. “After 10 Years,” notes Forbes, “Nathan Myhrvold’s $3 Billion Of Private Equity Funds Show Big Losses” (that’s the headline). Here are some excerpts:

Some 10 years ago, Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technology officer of Microsoft, raised nearly $3 billion for two private equity funds from financial investors and tech companies. These were not your typical funds. They were designed to invest in patents and innovations, not companies or their securities, over a lifespan of 20 years, as opposed to the usual 10 to 13 years. Halfway through their run, the funds are deep in the red.

Invention Investment Fund II was the bigger fund that Myhrvold’s firm, Intellectual Ventures, raised in 2008. It has generated a -15.44% internal rate of return, according to data provided by the University of Texas Investment Management Co., one of Intellectual Ventures’ investors.

[...]

Nevertheless, Myhrvold has washed his hands of Invention Development Fund. It is now being managed by a new firm, Allied Inventors Management, which was set up solely to run Invention Development Fund outside of Intellectual Ventures. The fund has been renamed Allied Investors Fund. “The terms of the arrangement are subject to confidentiality agreement,” said DG Kim, Allied’s chief financial officer. “As far as internal fund matters, I am bound and can’t say anything really.”

We recently wrote about it because Microsoft had unintentionally revealed something. Filings showed that it was by far the biggest investor in this troll. It even lost a lot of money just trying to prop it up again (with another round of major investment). Richard Lloyd, who mentioned it at the time (Irish media actually broke the story), now has this new article stating that IV is “among the leading sellers of patents in first quarter” (IV sells patents to ‘satellite’ trolls that take many legal actions; the Wall Street Journal estimated about 9 years ago that IV had already created thousands of such ‘satellites’).

So what we have here is Microsoft’s patent troll (still led by Microsoft’s former CTO and heavily funded by Microsoft) distributing patents to patent trolls that are suing Microsoft’s rivals (including Linux companies, as we noted over the years). To quote:

IAM has teamed up with Allied Security Trust (AST) to provide quarterly updates on the secondary market for patents to determine who’s buying, who’s selling and what sort of assets are changing hands. As well as the data, AST has provided some additional information on the principal deals and the defensive aggregator’s CEO Russell Binns has added some commentary on the main trends. This analysis covers the first three months of 2018 and shows how Intellectual Ventures continues to dominate the market on the sell-side, while the NPEs Dominion Harbor and Uniloc are the leading buyers.

It’s also worth noting that IAM now works with the Allied Security Trust (AST), which is — as we last noted some weeks ago — like a patent ‘cartel’. IAM took note of another such ‘cartel’, IP Bridge, on the same day, writing:

Mobile network operator NTT Docomo has become the latest Japanese firm to partner with IP Bridge, the patent fund run by CEO Shigeharu Yoshii. A wireless-focused subsidiary of NTT, the world’s fourth largest telco by revenue, Docomo has previously made only limited patent transactions with third parties.

We wrote about IP Bridge. It’s almost like the ‘IV of Japan’, albeit much gentler. All these entities are basically participating in a large-scale ‘cartel’ whose de facto function is keeping small companies out of the market. They’re monopoly enablers.

“Microsoft did the same thing 3 years later at Nokia (Nokia’s patents will only ever bother Apple and Android OEMs, but never Microsoft).”That brings us back to Microsoft. And this time it’s about Yahoo’s trove of software patents. Well, just as many people worried at the time (10 years ago, the time of Microsoft’s hijack of Yahoo), USPTO-granted patents of Yahoo show up in lawsuits/dockets. Critics like ourselves predicted that these patents would get scattered to trolls that target Microsoft’s main competitors on the Internet while Microsoft gets to shield itself by wielding leverage over Yahoo. Microsoft did the same thing 3 years later at Nokia (Nokia’s patents will only ever bother Apple and Android OEMs, but never Microsoft).

According to the EFF’s Daniel Nazer: “Old @Yahoo patents now in the hands of trolls. Prolific patent troll IP Edge has sued @Twitter claiming it infringes this software patent: https://patents.google.com/patent/US8352854 …”

We wrote about IP Edge several times earlier this year, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4; like IV, it typically operates through ‘satellites’ which file the lawsuits. This makes it incredibly hard to keep track of these things; it’s hard to know who’s behind which lawsuit/s.

Daniel Nazer has just published this new article titled “EFF Fights for Public Access To Patent Disputes” because even the EFF struggles to gain access to such crucial information. To quote:

The public can’t judge if courts are fair if the public is locked out. The parties generally don’t care if the proceedings are hidden (indeed, they may want them hidden). This means that, at times, groups like EFF and press organizations have had to stand up for public access. Unfortunately, while the First Amendment protects the right of access, courts sometimes fail to protect this right.

In patent litigation, we’ve seen routine over-sealing by busy district courts. EFF has twice moved to unseal records in patent cases in the Eastern District of Texas, and both times the court unsealed material that should have been public.

Now EFF is taking action to push for transparency in two critical venues for hearing patent disputes. We’re protesting against the Federal Circuit’s practice of delaying the public from reading filed briefs, and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s use of secret docket entries.

[...]

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) overseas a variety of important procedures within the Patent Office, including inter partes review (IPR) and administrative appeals. The IPR proceedings, in particular, are now one of the most important methods for challenging bad patents.

Recently, we filed an amicus brief at the PTAB in a case considering whether a patent owner can avoid review by claiming sovereign immunity. As part of our work in that case, we discovered that when documents are filed under seal at the PTAB there is no public docket entry. So, not only does the public not get to see the sealed document, it doesn’t even know that one has been filed.

We sent a FOIA request to the Patent Office that, in effect, asked for all non-public docket entries in post-grant proceedings at the PTAB. We did not request the filings themselves but only the docket entries. After some back-and-forth, the Patent Office produced a list [PDF] of 16,773 docket entries (we thank the FOIA Officer who helped with this process). In other words, there have thousands of filings before the PTAB that the public had no record of.

Meanwhile, as Nazer noted in Twitter yesterday:

U.S. Patent No. 10,000,000 will likely issue some time this month. To make sure the publicity is good, the USPTO will hand-pick this patent (it won’t be the patent that randomly would have gotten that number).

Far too many ‘inventions’ so you just know that the vast majority simply aren’t inventions and are basically bogus patents waiting to be exploited en masse by patent trolls. Many such trolls are connected to Microsoft, either directly or through IV (which has literally thousands of them). How large a scale does this network of trolling have? It’s hard to tell unless the EFF can compel/press for better public access to information. Many patent disputes happen secretly, with conditional settlements that include “no disclosure” agreements (NDAs). Secrecy shelters serial bullies from regulators/scrutiny/challenge (such as IPRs at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board).

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

Decor ᶃ Gemini Space

Below is a Web proxy. We recommend getting a Gemini client/browser.

Black/white/grey bullet button This post is also available in Gemini over at this address (requires a Gemini client/browser to open).

Decor ✐ Cross-references

Black/white/grey bullet button Pages that cross-reference this one, if any exist, are listed below or will be listed below over time.

Decor ▢ Respond and Discuss

Black/white/grey bullet button If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

DecorWhat Else is New


  1. Links 21/05/2022: Security Blunders and Microsoft Posturing

    Links for the day



  2. Links 21/05/2022: GitLab at Fedora and Pipewire in Next Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  3. Links 21/05/2022: HP Teams up with System76

    Links for the day



  4. IRC Proceedings: Friday, May 20, 2022

    IRC logs for Friday, May 20, 2022



  5. Links 20/05/2022: Thunderbird Revenue Rising

    Links for the day



  6. Outsourcing Sites to Social Control Media is an Outdated Mindset in 2022

    Centralised or federated censorship/filtering platforms (also known as "social [control] media" [sic]) aren't the way forward; we're therefore a little surprised that Linux Weekly News (LWN) bothers with that languishing bandwagon all of a sudden



  7. Links 20/05/2022: Plasma's Latest Beta in Kubuntu 22.04, Kapow 1.6.0 Released

    Links for the day



  8. Turkey's Migration to Pardus Linux and LibreOffice Explained 2 Months Ago in LibrePlanet

    This talk by Hüseyin GÜÇ was uploaded under the title “Real world GNU/Linux story from Istanbul”



  9. In Turkey, Windows Market Share is Down to Almost Nothing, 'Linux' is About Two Thirds of the Connected Devices

    Watch this graph of Windows going down from around 99.5% to just 11.55% this month



  10. The Lies and Delusions of António Campinos

    Monopolies and American corporations (and their lawyers) are a priority for today's EPO, Europe's second-largest institution



  11. Links 20/05/2022: Fedora BIOS Boot SIG

    Links for the day



  12. Links 20/05/2022: Oracle Linux 8.6 and VMware Security Crisis

    Links for the day



  13. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, May 19, 2022

    IRC logs for Thursday, May 19, 2022



  14. Links 19/05/2022: Rust 1.61.0 and Lots of Security FUD

    Links for the day



  15. EPO Eating Its Own (and Robbing Its Own)

    António Campinos is lying to his staff and losing his temper when challenged about it; Like Benoît Battistelli, who ‘fixed’ this job for his banker buddy (despite a clear lack of qualifications and relevant experience), he’s just robbing the EPO’s staff (even pensioners!) and scrubbing the EPC for ill-gotten money, which is in turn illegally funneled into financialization schemes



  16. [Meme] EPO Budget Tanking?

    While the EPO‘s António Campinos incites people (and politicians) to break the law he’s also attacking, robbing, and lying to his own staff; thankfully, his staff isn’t gullible enough and some MEPs are sympathetic; soon to follow is a video and publication about the EPO’s systematic plunder (ETA midnight GMT)



  17. EPO.org (Official EPO Site) Continues to Promote Illegal Agenda and Exploit Ukraine for PR Stunts That Help Unaccountable Crooks

    epo.org has been turned into a non-stop propaganda machine of Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos because the EPO routinely breaks the law; it’s rather tasteless that while Ukrainians are dying the EPO’s mob exploits Ukraine for PR purposes



  18. [Meme] EPO Applicants Unwittingly Fund the War on Ukraine

    As we’ve just shown, António Campinos is desperately trying to hide a massive EPO scandal



  19. EPO Virtue-Signalling on the Ukrainian Front

    António Campinos persists in attention-shifting dross and photo ops; none of that can change the verifiable facts about the EPO’s connections to Lukashenko’s 'science park' in Minsk



  20. Links 19/05/2022: PostgreSQL 15 Beta 1 and Plasma 5.25 Beta

    Links for the day



  21. A Libera.Chat Anniversary and Happy Birthday (Maybe the Last) to 'Leenode'

    What became known as the so-called ‘Leenode’ is a cautionary tale, but maybe it is also a blessing in disguise because IRC as a whole seem to have become a lot more decentralised (as everything should be)



  22. Links 19/05/2022: The Gradual Fall of Netflix/DRM

    Links for the day



  23. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, May 18, 2022

    IRC logs for Wednesday, May 18, 2022



  24. Links 18/05/2022: Qt Company Loses Chief; OpenSUSE Leap Micro 5.2 and RHEL 9 Final

    Links for the day



  25. Jim Zemlin's Wife is Funded by Puppies (Microsoft)

    Jim Zemlin — like his wife — is bagging millions from Microsoft, but that’s clearly a conflict of interest for the Linux Foundation



  26. Links 18/05/2022: More Defections From WordPress to Gemini

    Links for the day



  27. Links 18/05/2022: PikaScript and cURL's Annual User Survey

    Links for the day



  28. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, May 17, 2022

    IRC logs for Tuesday, May 17, 2022



  29. Phoronix: Microsoft and Phoronix Sponsor (and Close Microsoft Partner) AMD All Over the Place

    When you’re taking massive 'gifts' from AMD (and also some from Microsoft) maybe it’s not surprising that editorial decisions change somewhat…



  30. EPO Has No F-ing Oversight

    Earlier today SUEPO mentioned this new article demonstrating that EPO President António Campinos can very obviously and blatantly violate the Code of Conduct of the Office without facing any consequences; there are translations too, so the report is now available in four languages


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts