“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”
Summary: In an effort to combat any large deployment of non-Microsoft software, the company goes personal and attempts to overthrow even management that is not receptive to Microsoft’s agenda
IN LIGHT of the news (also the Microsoft-leaning fake news) from Munich, and also in light of Microsoft’s attempts to cause me trouble with my employer (that is their modus operandi apparently), now is a good time to share this story, which we learned about some months ago. Over the years we have covered examples of Microsoft retribution against individuals and organisations that were viewed as “enemies” of Microsoft. To Microsoft, competition is “enemy”, standards are an “enemy”, and even fair competition is an “enemy”. Less than a decade ago a government delegate compared Microsoft's methods to those of “Scientology cult”. That comparison was apt.
“I’ve been looking for Tim Bray’s blog post about how Microsoft went after his job; when they couldn’t get him fired, crushed his wife’s business.”
–AnonymousThe latest example of it happened in the UK and is still happening (we might have some updates on this at a later time). We have shared this information with some Techrights members and studied the patterns before publishing anything.
“I’ve been looking for Tim Bray’s blog post about how Microsoft went after his job,” one member wrote, “when they couldn’t get him fired, crushed his wife’s business.”
“Also,” this member noted, “Microsoft has been after you before, do you have a blog entry about it? If not, it might be a good idea.”
I learned some more about it a few months ago in my employer’s Christmas dinner, but that might be an interesting subject which would be better left aside for another day.
Today we would like to focus on a bigger story which has been long coming. We waited before writing about this, as Microsoft is evidently back to these dirty tricks that many assumed had already ended. It is pretty serious and lawyers along with police are involved (in the UK). In the mean time, in order to not compromise any ongoing processes, we shall refrain from naming people and companies.
“Life for my friend and I has been pretty horrific. Still dealing with the aftermath…”
–AnonymousA person we spoke to said something “isn’t quite right at the moment” in some local authorities in the UK. These local authorities are in England. It has gotten so severe that relocations were needed. “A friend/former colleague,” we were told, “is in similar situation, but is skeptical of larger issues…”
Several key groups in the UK, those professing to promote Free/Open Source software, are now “in the hands of someone influenced by some very Microsoft-friendly people,” we got told. It’s too early/premature to name the culprits, but we might do so one day. “Microsoft’s “open source” staff contacted my boss,” I told the person, and they “tried to get me fired or something…”
The matter of fact is, this isn’t so uncommon. “Nothing surprises me,” this person told me. “Just remember Microsoft acts like a cult,” I explained, and it “always did,” based on people who knew Microsoft as officials. Look what happened in Munich recently, including the politics preceding it all the officials involved. “Life for my friend and I has been pretty horrific,” the person explained to me. “Still dealing with the aftermath…”
We are afraid we cannot say much more at the moment. “Still just dealing with complaints,” the person told me, who will “will make little progress until solicitors return from leave…”
Whether we can proceed to naming and shaming some of the parties involved only time will tell. What we know for sure, however, is that Microsoft still plays dirty and people who are in denial about it do so at their own peril.
“I figure that even if Microsoft goes bankrupt, there will be a very long tail due to its cult-like nature and the spread of its minions throughout industry and, now, even academia.”
–Anonymous“I know someone non-technical who considers Microsoft mostly dead,” a member told us. “From my perspective, I don’t count them gone until the office furniture is auctioned off and the officers past and present brought to justice before the courts of law.
“I figure that even if Microsoft goes bankrupt, there will be a very long tail due to its cult-like nature and the spread of its minions throughout industry and, now, even academia. The big breakthrough needed there will be a court decision rendering anti-disparagement clauses invalid so that those that have had a change of heart can speak out.”
This isn’t so rare and unusual an incident. “About Microsoft,” one member told us, “my dad now came to the conclusion on his own that Microsoft put pressure on the administration in my old job to force me out, first removing my boss, then me, then harassing the hell out of my former students. I have no opinion on his conclusion in that area due to lack of data aside from the harassment, the removal of my boss with no warning or reason given, and the discontinuation of my contract with the excuse of the lie of no more teaching. I had not suggested Microsoft as a cause at all to him because I have no data other than that the new managers gave the appearance of being both incompetent and assholish. There was something going on though with or without Microsoft involvement. Anyway, it looks like that whole institution may close soon.”
This is similar to something that happened to a potential client of ours in the UK. They get rid of people’s entire role, in order to get rid of the people who occupy these roles. It’s quite obvious that Microsoft and its resellers do this intentionally and consciously.
“I was going to meet someone who had widely deployed GNU/Linux and was using it for nearly 100% of their machines. While I was physically en route to their site, they got a panicked call from the top regional Microsoft sales representative who kept them on the phone a long while, trying all kinds of methods to get them to purchase Microsoft, even trying to wheedle a meeting agreement when a sale could not be reached.”
–Anonymous“Another time,” told us a member, “I was going to meet someone who had widely deployed GNU/Linux and was using it for nearly 100% of their machines. While I was physically en route to their site, they got a panicked call from the top regional Microsoft sales representative who kept them on the phone a long while, trying all kinds of methods to get them to purchase Microsoft, even trying to wheedle a meeting agreement when a sale could not be reached. They thought it was coincidence, I did not. Fortunately he had a good working relationship with his boss and his boss’ boss so when Microsoft went over his head, he survived unscathed. However, that site really wishes to remain very low profile some years more to further build up their position.”
I have come to witness this sort of “low profile” policy myself; Microsoft likes to keep a sort of “naughty list” of institutions or companies (to convert to Microsoft). There’s nothing they won’t do to derail the competition, even just for the sake of driving it out of business.
If you too have a similar story to share, even if pertinent details like names must be omitted, please get in touch with us. The world needs to understand what Microsoft is still up to. █
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Companies that are using GNU/Linux in their datacentres have become the target of software patent lawsuits from a fake ‘friend’ of GNU/Linux
Summary: IBM’s poisonous policy on patents, which has long been incompatible with Free/Libre software, has gotten even worse and the company now takes the lead in lobbying for patenting of software
The “Open Invention Network,” Florian Müller told me a few hours ago in Twitter, “has co-founded a *pro-patent* advocacy thing,” called “The Center for Intellectual Property Understanding”. The press release reveals the involvement of the man who turned both IBM and Microsoft into massive patent bullies (Marshall Phelps, who is also quoted at the bottom):
“The IP knowledge gap is growing,” said Marshall Phelps, former head of IP at Microsoft and IBM and CIPU’s Vice Chairman. “Many people, including the general public and many in government, haven’t a clue what patents and other IP rights achieve. The incentive for taking IP seriously is at an all-time low. The Center for Intellectual Property Understanding will engage groups like schools, parents and the media about the benefits of respecting new ideas and the impact of failing to.”
It is worth noting that the Open Invention Network (OIN) was founded in part by IBM and was first headed by an IBM employee. The above serves to reinforce our growingly sceptical view of both OIN and IBM, which now engages in a lobbying campaign for software patents in the United States. Adding insult to injury, IBM is once again aligning itself with Watchtroll, which has been attacking people like Michelle Lee (USPTO Director) in an effort to engineer her dismissal [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and make way for a crooked person like Rader. Manny Schecter, IBM’s patent chief, actually contributed to Watchtroll — didn’t just link to it — and the headline was “Congress Needs to Act So Alice Doesn’t Live Here (in the Patent System) Anymore”.
“IBM’s willingness to do it so openly is a slap on the face of anyone who ever supported or praised IBM as some sort of guardian of GNU/Linux.”It doesn’t get any clearer than this. IBM is an enemy of software developers everywhere, and not just Free/Libre software developers. This was published yesterday, February 13th. Once upon a time IBM tried phoning me to control the narrative of my stories (I told them off immediately). They love shaping the media behind closed doors, but Schecter continues to make it abundantly clear that IBM is now just a business ally of Apple, not “Linux” (or GNU/Linux). IBM is actually rapidly becoming an enemy of GNU/Linux and everything that has helped IBM grow over the past 2 decades.
Others are also promoting software patents this week, for example Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP (as expected from patent profiteers). IBM’s willingness to do it so openly is a slap on the face of anyone who ever supported or praised IBM as some sort of guardian of GNU/Linux. IBM is now suing massively all sorts of companies with massive GNU/Linux deployment, using software patents. █
“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway.”
–Marshall Phelps, IBM and then Microsoft
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Old tricks, new sheep’s clothing (don't change tactics, just market them better!)
Summary: Having disguised Android and Chrome OS patent settlements as OEM "bundling" deals (preinstalling Microsoft spyware), Microsoft now comes up with a new way to market its “protection” (of FOSS it didn’t even develop) from patent trolls, which requires that people pay Microsoft a subscription fee
LAST NIGHT, just before midnight, people started sending links like this or the original from Microsoft. It is despicable and it “does not work against trolls,” as Benjamin Henrion pointed out to me. In short, a massive patent troll claims that it offers protection from trolls and it’s all over the news, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4] (a near-exhaustive list of articles is not needed because there are many articles like these that are puff pieces). Not all the above was composed by Microsoft boosters, but it started from Microsoft and then Microsoft boosters, who probably coordinated this with Microsoft’s PR agencies before or during the charm offensive.
“What Microsoft basically says here is, use only our services (and pay us every month) for using Free/Open Source software that we did not even develop — only threatened and occasionally attacked — then enjoy “IP Peace of Mind” (or else we and our patent trolls will sue you with software patents).”Microsoft has got some nerve doing this; the company operates its own in-house patent troll (plus peripheral ones); it regularly attacks GNU/Linux with patents, yet now it pretends to be “defensive”? Or pretends to combat trolls? It doesn’t get any more laughable than this. This is the same company that keeps expounding and repeating the lie that it “loves [GNU/]Linux” (while constantly attacking GNU/Linux, GNU/Linux vendors and GNU/Linux advocates behind the scenes — we still have some new stories about that on the way).
What Microsoft basically says here is, use only our services (and pay us every month) for using Free/Open Source software that we did not even develop — only threatened and occasionally attacked — then enjoy “IP Peace of Mind” (or else we and our patent trolls will sue you with software patents). Microsoft already did this with Novell a decade ago. It’s not a new trick. It perpetually said, buy SUSE (pay us for patents) or risk lawsuits. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer even directly threatened Red Hat and its customers. He publicly said: “People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.”
“Just because Microsoft paid the Linux Foundation (slush funds; that’s all it takes to ‘join’) doesn’t mean that Microsoft suddenly “loves [GNU/]Linux” or that all is OK now.”Dozens of new (or “news”) articles about Microsoft and patent trolls are currently googlebombing (filling up the indexes for searches), distracting from Microsoft as the patent troll or a ‘puppetmaster’ of trolls such as Intellectual Ventures. If this wasn’t the real purpose of this PR charade, then maybe it’s a side perk. Incidentally, the other day Linux Journal published an article about Microsoft’s patent attacks on GNU/Linux. It started like this:
From vs. to + for Microsoft and [GNU/]Linux
In November 2016, Microsoft became a platinum member of the Linux Foundation, the primary sponsor of top-drawer Linux talent (including Linus), as well as a leading organizer of [GNU/]Linux conferences and source of [GNU/]Linux news.
Does it matter that Microsoft has a long history of fighting [GNU/]Linux with patent claims? Seems it should. Run a Google search for “microsoft linux patents”, and you’ll get almost a half-million results, most of which raise questions. Is Microsoft now ready to settle or drop claims? Is this about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer? Is it just a seat at a table it can’t hurt Microsoft to sit at?
Just because Microsoft paid the Linux Foundation (slush funds; that’s all it takes to ‘join’) doesn’t mean that Microsoft suddenly “loves [GNU/]Linux” or that all is OK now. From what we’re able to see, Microsoft is now trying to distinguish its offerings based on perceived protection from a problem that it itself created. People should be disgusted; nobody should praise Microsoft for this. Microsoft is again dividing the community; there’s the ‘protected’ option and the ‘under threat’ (of litigation) option. █
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Summary: The patents gold rush sees another company joining the ‘fun’, albeit this company should campaign hard against software patents rather than pursue any
After all that openwashing (or “open” marketing) by MapR, today we were greeted by headlines such as “MapR claims open source big data victory with patent award” and “MapR Nabs a Patent for its Converged Data Platform” (that’s software). CBR says the patent “covers key components such as protection for file, table and stream processing for technology advances such as convergence, fast processing with low latency, high availability and Strong consistency, and security.”
“If MapR intends to join the patents gold rush, then it is not a serious cooperative participant in the Hadoop community.”We can’t quite see a cause for celebration here because any new (additional) software patent is a case of adding fire to the fire, no matter who pursues and gets granted such a patent. There are no “good” software patents; there are benign ones, like those which got invalidated and can therefore not be sold, either (e.g. Red Hat getting liquidated and having its patents sold to trolls, or acquired in a potentially hostile takeover by a patent aggressor).
We recently noted that Blockstream had no patents yet oddly enough pledged not to sue using patents (which we therefore assume it was pursuing). We more recently wrote about the patent menace around Blockchain [1, 2] and now there is this new article about it:
Banks, Startups and Trolls to Duke Over Blockchain?
Reports came out during the holiday season last year of banks quietly stocking up on blockchain patents. Banks will compete with startups making the same moves. They will also compete for patents with trolls who suppress innovation.
The future of blockchain innovation depends on who exactly holds the keys to blockchain technology.
Bloomberg reported that Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Mastercard have all submitted requests for and hold patents for blockchain technologies.
The Economist reported that “startups, including Coinbase, Chain and 21 Inc, have been busy, too.”
If MapR intends to join the patents gold rush, then it is not a serious cooperative participant in the Hadoop community. It needs to rethink its strategy, wherever it got it from (probably some self-serving law firm/s), then focus on development and dissemination of code, not patents. █
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Those who have mastered monopolisation, not sharing, cannot be expected to behave as trusted partners
Part of the duopoly (with Visa)
Summary: Free/Open Source software in the currency and trading world promised to emancipate us from the yoke of banking conglomerates, but a gold rush for software patents threatens to jeopardise any meaningful change or progress
ANY company that built its presence/niche/empire on proprietary software sooner or later finds out that it is not sufficient in the face of competition that is based on sharing. Proprietary software is unable to compete with Free/Open Source software. Apple’s patent war on Android (Linux and Open Source), for example, is not new. We used to write a lot about it when it started (Apple v HTC) and Apple is gradually losing more and more of its battles (the higher up they do, the lesser the success rate, as the latest Supreme Court decision served to show — a decision to be discussed tomorrow). Even so-called ‘friends’ of GNU/Linux, Amazon for instance, are pursuing loads of software patents that are occasionally being used.
At the end of last year we gave new examples of software patents being used against Free/Open Source software in finance — the very topic which got this site started in the first place. Worrying about the same type of issues (the attack on Bitcoin/Blockchain [1, 2, 3]), yet another site wrote about it just before the year ended. To quote:
Creating a ‘Blockchain Industry:’ Patenting the Blockchain
Patent filings for blockchain technology have more than tripled since 2014; this spike includes patents filed by cryptocurrency exchanges such as Coinbase, payment processors like Mastercard, and banks like Goldman Sachs and the Bank of America.
According to a report conducted by law firm Reed Smith, the most popular areas for these patent applications are payment systems: both for traditional forms of money and for systems that will be used to trade cryptocurrencies or digital tokens. Mastercard, by way of example, recently filed four blockchain patents for separate steps along authenticating a transaction on the blockchain.
Given the behaviour of IBM as of late and its ambitions in this space (not to mention clients such as Goldman Sachs), it wouldn’t shock us if Big Blue too became not just a participant in the patent gold rush but also a serial patent bully (recall TurboHercules v IBM). This isn’t a wish but a growing concern; all that patent hoarding, as noted in a variety of Bitcoin-themed news site, will likely culminate in some legal wars and out-of-court settlements, leaving the same old oligopolies in tact. That’s just protectionism, not innovation. These patents are not trophies to them; they intend to use them one way or another (they’ll probably claim “defensively”). █
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Not only Microsoft is attacking Free/Open Source software using its software patents
“I find a considerable anxiety throughout the community of practicing computer scientists that decisions by the patent courts and the Patent and Trademark Office are making life much more difficult for programmers. ”
Summary: Free/Open Source software (FOSS), which encourages sharing, is increasingly becoming infested or subjected to software patents barbwire, courtesy of those who want to monopolise rather than share
THE OTHER day we wrote about Blockchain and related technologies coming under attack because of giants that hoard software patents and threaten small players/contenders. A news site dedicated to Bitcoin explains this as follows:
Increasing Blockchain Patents May Soon Hamper Innovation
Companies count their patents among prized possessions. Having a patent for something important can be worth a fortune, guaranteeing the company a constant stream of revenue until it expires. At the same time, it may also hamper innovation by preventing other from using the technology for free.
Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain are open source technologies and it has gained prominence in the banking and fintech industry lately. The potential of blockchain to change the future of banking has forced many institutions to invest heavily in the development and implementation of cryptocurrency technology based applications.
However, the increased involvement of mainstream institutions has created another problem in the cryptocurrency industry. The banks and financial institutions are increasingly filing patents for various blockchain based solutions that are commonly used by many open source crypto-communities. If these institutions were to gain the patents, then they will soon be dictating terms to Bitcoin and other crypto-platforms, hampering innovation and ease of access to millions of people.
We are beginning to hear more and more stories like this and it matters even more to us because of the direct connection to FOSS and to the Linux Foundation. The other day WIPR showed that Hadoop too, in spite of being FOSS, became subjected to patent wars:
Founded in 2012, Pepperdata provides customers with products that improve the performance of Hadoop-based computing clusters. A computer cluster consists of a set of connected computers that work together.
According to the suit, Yahoo uses Hadoop clusters within the US. It made a software patch identified as YARN-5202, titled “dynamic overcommit of node resources”, which it has used on the clusters.
So anyone who uses this Free/Open Source software can now become the defendant in a patent lawsuit? How does that work? And why don’t more FOSS developers becoming actively involved in ending software patents? This should be our top priority. █
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Summary: Innovations associated with Bitcoin/Blockchain — advancements which are largely Free/Open Source software-centric — are under threat from financial giants that effectively besiege/threaten startups using a barrage of software patents
THE USPTO insists that it makes the US more competitive, but in many cases it actually helps large companies undermine small ones, not foreign ones.
Case of point: see the new article “When a patent-happy industry meets open-source technology” [1, 2]. To quote from the article:
When the financial services industry started paying attention to blockchain technology, many companies, seemingly as a reflex, sought patent protection for their ideas.
It was ironic, since the original bitcoin blockchain was a breakthrough of open-source development, in which software code is made freely available for anyone to use or modify. As the industry has gained a clearer understanding of how distributed-ledger technology could change its business, it’s begun to see the merits of such openness in supporting collaborative innovation, and the limitations of the traditional, you-can’t-touch-this approach.
Some are even using a hybrid strategy, pursuing patents to secure a competitive advantage – or at least protect themselves from legal challenges – while publishing code and inviting others to improve it by submitting fixes or patching bugs. The situation underscores the cultural differences between the banking and technology fields as the former looks to the latter for help meeting the demands of an increasingly digital world.
IBM’s Manny Schecter was interested in this and Benjamin Henrion told him that these conglomerates pursuing patents on Blockchain technologies is “like oil companies patenting everything solar.”
This isn’t entirely new a revelation. It’s an old trick in many industries (absorbing or denying competition that suggests alternative paradigms). Big Banks are essentially attacking Bitcoin, Blockchain etc. using software patents and today we found two more articles about it, “Blockchain patent filings by Goldman, others tip future cost risk” and “Corporate Patents on Blockchain Could Create Legal Problems for Startups”. Well, that’s the intention.
“Thankfully, a lot of software patents pertaining to payments and finance are being invalidated these days (thrown our by court), more so than in any other field.”“Over the past few months,” one of these articles says, “some of the world’s largest financial companies including Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Mastercard – have been patenting promising Blockchain methodologies. Despite a common perception that Blockchain is Open Source and developers can freely use Sotoshi Nakamoto’s ideas from bitcoin to build new systems, it still could mean costly legal problems for fledgling startups, lawyers and others are saying.”
We wrote about this not too long ago in relation to MasterCard. A lot of the above culminated in the publication of “Big Banks Are Stocking Up on Blockchain Patents” (early yesterday in Wall Street media). To quote:
In the headlong rush to revolutionize modern finance, blockchain enthusiasts are overlooking one potentially costly problem: their applications, built on open-source code, may actually belong to someone else.
Recently, some of the biggest names in business, from Goldman Sachs to Bank of America and Mastercard, have quietly patented some of the most promising blockchain technologies for themselves. Through mid-November, the number of patents that companies have obtained or said they’ve applied for has roughly doubled since the start of the year, according to law firm Reed Smith.
Our readers are smart enough to know what’s wrong with this picture. Gullible people may try to frame this as a sign of “adoption” and “success”, but the large financial firms just want to guard their monopoly/oligopoly, they don’t want disruption.
Thankfully, a lot of software patents pertaining to payments and finance are being invalidated these days (thrown out by courts), more so than in any other field (about 90% of the time). That’s similar to business methods, too.
Are patent examiners in the US paying any attention at all to what courts have been arguing over and over again? █
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Summary: An update on Intellectual Ventures and Unwired Planet, whose operations pose a growing problem for Free software and Linux-based products (e.g. Android)
Patent trolls, as we noted in the previous post, are a growing problem in China and UPC in Europe can also make them a growing problem in Europe, basically emulating the mistakes of the USPTO.
“”Working with” as IAM refers to it basically means agreeing to cooperate with an extortionist.”IP Watch, speaking to LOT Network’s Ken Seddon, mentioned the problems associated with trolls on the first of the month, taking stock of the type of trolls that FTC spoke about (against) a couple of months ago. To quote: “Patent assertion entity (PAE) activity has skyrocketed in the past decade and much discussion has occurred around what to do in response to patent holders whose strategy is more focused on legal battles than innovating. One notable group has risen up to bring together global companies to address the PAE issue with a novel sharing approach. In an interview with Intellectual Property Watch, Ken Seddon, CEO and President of LOT Network, talks about the group’s rapid growth, what’s coming next, and how not to bring a squirt gun to a nuclear fight. ”
In our previous post we showed that Intellectual Ventures had expanded in China. Well, IAM continues to groom this troll, the world’s largest patent troll, which is Microsoft’s patent troll. See this promotional article and another new article which euphemistically calls patent extortion “NPEs” “monetisation”. “Working with” as IAM refers to it basically means agreeing to cooperate with an extortionist. IAM makes patent trolls look so benign that it’s appalling if not disgusting. That’s what happens when the patent trolls pay IAM…
“IAM makes patent trolls look so benign that it’s appalling if not disgusting. That’s what happens when the patent trolls pay IAM…”In other news, a network of sites published an article titled “How Big Law and Big Banks Took the Fight to Intellectual Ventures” [1,2], reminding us that Intellectual Ventures is very malicious and parasitic.
Speaking of Microsoft’s biggest patent troll, watch what Microsoft does with Nokia‘s patents other than extorting Android OEMs and passing patents to patent trolls like those that fund IAM. To quote the new article: “Under the terms of the agreement, HMD got exclusive rights to use the Nokia brand on mobile phones and tablets globally (except Japan) for the next 10 years, standard essential cellular patent licenses, software for feature phones…”
Those “standard essential cellular patent licenses” are among the reasons Microsoft ‘stole’ Nokia and now taxes a lot of the mobile industry using patents, even without selling any phones of its own. Not only Nokia’s patents serve to accomplish this goal. Ericsson’s patents too have been weaponised and Ericsson essentially created patent trolls that even operate in Europe (London).
“Ericsson’s patents too have been weaponised and Ericsson essentially created patent trolls that even operate in Europe (London).”Recently, Ericsson’s most prominent patent troll (Unwired Planet) did some damage even to PTAB, which has been responsible for intercepting a great number of software patents in the US. We wrote quite a lot about it last weekend and for those who don’t remember, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled to weaken PTAB. More coverage on CAFC coming out in favour of this patent troll of Ericsson — and indirectly against PTAB scope of operation — came from legal-centric sites [1, 2] at the beginning of last week.
Here in Europe, there may be some good news as Florian Müller, who used to promote/defend FRAND back in the days (it’s similar or related to standard essential patents), says that Germany pushes back against FRAND, citing antitrust reasons. To quote:
There was a time when I spent most Fridays–and occasionally also a Tuesday–in Mannheim (and on trains from Munich to Mannheim and back) to watch numerous smartphone patent trials. After coming to terms with a prohibition on making Internet connections from the courtroom (which prevented me from live-tweeting about the proceedings), I generally enjoyed my visits. I admired the depth of the judges’ technical understanding and their effective trial management (authoritative, but not authoritarian; highly facts-focused, but with a great sense of humor that I know other trial watchers also appreciated). There are, however, two notable exceptions from my fond memories: the incredibly dry air in the courtrooms and, more than anything else, the Mannheim judges’ take on what the obligation to license standard-essential patents on FRAND terms should mean for patent infringement remedies.
We certainly hope that these congregations of trolls, including those that try to tax every phone running Android, will be pushed back by courts. What we have here is a network of few large companies operating through patent trolls (i.e. resistant to lawsuits themselves), hoping to tax everything and everyone. Nobody benefits, except few rich people at the top. █
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