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01.24.18

Microsoft Financially Backs Patent Trolls That Attack Its Competitors

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“[Microsoft's] Mr. Emerson and I discussed a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would ‘backstop,’ or guarantee in some way, BayStar’s investment…. Microsoft assured me that it would in some way guarantee BayStar’s investment in SCO.”

Larry Goldfarb, BayStar, key investor in SCO

Summary: Corporate media continues to ignore the elephant in the room, which is Microsoft’s deep involvement in arming patent trolls and using them against rivals, including GNU/Linux

THE 12-year Microsoft push for 'patent tax' on GNU/Linux persists in a new form. It’s occasionally mentioned in the media, e.g. that Microsoft would sic patent trolls on AWS customers, but we can’t help wondering if editors are shooting down attempts to mention that this is also an anti-Linux plot. How many millions (not even billions) has Microsoft spent (‘invested’) for the media to spread the lie that it “loves Linux”? We are occasionally being asked (having researched this) regarding Microsoft’s patent strategy against Linux, yet nothing gets published at the end. In this example from yesterday it comes across almost like Microsoft marketing with lots of Microsoft talking points, as if everything Microsoft says must be true. I had been contacted by the author, but nothing I said was included in this article. I did explain, for example, that Microsoft instructs Nokia to pass its patents to trolls. This is well documented. The article actually states that “if Microsoft sells a patent, it still can’t be used against Azure customers.” But only against them. Got it?

“We’re very disappointed to see the media persisting with the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie, but seeing also the publicity stunt (court case) which has Microsoft portrayed as “fighting for privacy” we are dismayed and bound to accept that money buys the media and thus buys narrative.”Paid-for trolling (paid by Microsoft) is not new; here’s a reminder from this week. It’s about Finjan. Microsoft-backed patent trolls like Finjan receive extortion money from Microsoft’s rivals, noting a “175% year-over-year increase in revenue to over $50.0 million” (that’s just ‘protection’ money).

Don’t expect Microsoft to be vocally involved. Microsoft has funded patent trolls, this one included, and now it can better hide it. Same for SCO. The use of proxies for such litigation was highlighted by OIN a long time ago. Their CEO said that Microsoft would attempt to attack Linux through proxies to which it can slip patents (directly or indirectly). It’s going to get harder to see it, based on rulings such as this:

The court denied defendants’ motion to compel the production of documents regarding plaintiff’s communications with litigation-funding organizations that plaintiff withheld as privileged.

We’re very disappointed to see the media persisting with the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie, but seeing also the publicity stunt (court case) which has Microsoft portrayed as “fighting for privacy” we are dismayed and bound to accept that money buys the media and thus buys narrative.

01.18.18

Microsoft, Masking/Hiding Itself Behind Patent Trolls, is Still Engaging in Patent Extortion

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 7:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sleight of hand, but extortion is still extortion

Venice masks

Summary: A review of Microsoft’s ugly tactics, which involve coercion and extortion (for businesses to move to Azure and/or for OEMs to preload Microsoft software) while Microsoft-connected patent trolls help hide the “enforcement” element in this whole racket

THE ‘new’ Microsoft is no different from the company we wrote about back in the “Boycott Novell” days; only the marketing/PR has improved. The patent strategy is still similar; we just don’t see Ballmer’s face anymore. He was at least honest about Microsoft’s views about GNU/Linux. Nadella just shamelessly lies about those things.

“The patent strategy is still similar; we just don’t see Ballmer’s face anymore. He was at least honest about Microsoft’s views about GNU/Linux. Nadella just shamelessly lies about it.”Extortion using patents doesn’t work as most people assume; people tend to believe that patents are being used only when there’s a lawsuit. But no… that’s not how it usually works. As United for Patent Reform has just put it: “A report by @marklemley @kentrichardson @elosf found a silent tax on #innovation: 70% of #patent-related threats didn’t result in litigation, meaning the costs of over-broad litigation never go to court.”

For those who have patience and time (the Internet discourages reading of long articles), here is the paper from Professor Lemley, who is renowned for his strong views about patent aggression.

Abstract says:

How often do companies and individuals assert patents outside of litigation? No one knows for sure. The problem is that licensing negotiations and license deals that don’t result in litigation are almost invariably kept secret. The result is that patent litigation is like the proverbial tip of the iceberg – the observable piece sticking out of the water, but probably not all or even most of what there is. Various people have speculated that unlitigated (and therefore unobserved) assertions are a majority and probably as much as 90% of all patent enforcement.

We wanted to know how often companies were approached to take patent licenses without a lawsuit being filed. So we asked them. Using a simple survey, we got data from dozens of companies about how often they were sued, how often they were approached to take a license without being sued, and the characteristics of those licensing proposals. The result is the first real look at what goes on beneath the surface of patent enforcement.

We found that while patent litigation does not reflect everything that is going on, there was less unlitigated – and therefore unseen – patent enforcement than some of us had thought. Roughly one-third of all patent licensing efforts among our survey respondents end in litigation, significantly less than the 10% some had predicted. And, for the majority of respondents, about one half of the demands end in litigation. Our results allow us to get a handle on the actual size of the patent enforcement business and to try to estimate the total cost of responding to enforcement efforts. We offer some ballpark estimates of the cost of responding to patent assertions in Part III.

Our survey respondents are a significant segment of the economy, but they are far from all of it. And they differ in certain ways from companies as a whole. We hope to be able to expand the universe of respondents in a later round of surveys. In Part I we explain what we did. In Part II we explain what we found. And in Part III we consider some implications for business and public policy if we extrapolate our limited results to the broader economy. Under plausible assumptions, responding to patent assertions costs defendants between $80 and $100 billion per year.

This brings us to Microsoft; Microsoft not only pressures companies to pay money by threatening to sue them using patents; Microsoft is often siccing patent trolls (which it arms) on companies that refuse to play along. That’s racketeering; it’s like the Mafia burning down houses and businesses of those who refuse to pay ‘protection’ money. That’s just how extortion works, but Microsoft burns the victims’ money (legal fees) rather than the actual businesses (although they too will go up in flames if legal fees result in bankruptcy).

“Microsoft not only pressures companies to pay money by threatening to sue them using patents; Microsoft is often siccing patent trolls (which it arms) on companies that refuse to play along.”In the “Boycott Novell” days Microsoft was threatening companies that did not buy (i.e. pay Microsoft for) SUSE. SLES was the only ‘Microsoft-authorised’ distribution of GNU/Linux at one point. And now, instead of SLES/SLED what we have is Azure. Microsoft threatens those who do not pay Azure 'rents' that patent trolls (which Microsoft passes patents to) might come along and destroy their business. It’s the “cloud” equivalent of the Novell plot. IAM has just published this self-promotional ‘report’ that says “litigation involving cloud technologies has increased by 700%” (well, they just made up the term “cloud” and now everything that already existed is called “cloud”). Here is what they said, linking to an older ‘article’ (promotion) of theirs:

A recent study revealed that US patent litigation involving cloud technologies has increased by 700% over the past four years (for further information please see “Cloud computing patent litigation on the rise”)

Microsoft relies on such ‘articles’ to sell fear and to attract businesses to Azure (out of sheer fear). At the same time, Microsoft is lobbying for software patents. Less than a day ago, for example, the BSA (using “Enterprise Innovation” as a platform) wrote in its capacity as a Microsoft front group: “Patent protections: Governments should have non-discriminatory protection for software patents.”

“In the “Boycott Novell” days Microsoft was threatening companies that did not buy (i.e. pay Microsoft for) SUSE.”Well, actually it seems like only China offers that now. But Microsoft would like to change that. The extortion heavily relies on it.

Lost in the midst of Microsoft puff pieces about patents (see one of the latest examples) is this original announcement from Microsoft about extending the reach of the ‘protection’ racket.

“Microsoft relies on such ‘articles’ to sell fear and to attract businesses to Azure (out of sheer fear).”“Excited to announce that we are extending the Microsoft Azure IP Advantage #patent protection program to our Azure Stack customers,” wrote the person in charge of it. Yes, Microsoft is very “excited” about patent extortion against GNU/Linux. They just say it with a smile and euphemistically call it “Azure IP Advantage”. This is already being covered by longtime Microsoft boosters. Kurt Mackie, for instance, said that the “”springing license” reference means that the patents that Microsoft may transfer to other companies under this program can’t be used to make IP claims against other Azure customers.”

As Microsoft also controls some of the trolls, it can help determine who gets sued. The potential for abuse is vast.

“Microsoft paid a lot of money for the Linux Foundation to not intervene and simply pretend that “Microsoft loves Linux” (while it’s taxing it and attacking it using patents).”Don’t expect Red Hat or Canonical or even the Linux Foundation to say anything about it. The Linux Foundation is far too busy sucking up to Microsoft this week, having received Microsoft cash for silence and complicity. Even when Microsoft attacks Linux with patents the Linux Foundation will say nothing at all because these attacks often come from proxies, just as the OIN’s CEO warned us a long time ago. One such proxy is Finjan. Microsoft patent trolls like Finjan are held up as good examples at Watchtroll this week not because they create anything but because they’re targeting Microsoft’s rivals (every company except Microsoft, which supported Finjan since its early days).

The latest case, Finjan v Blue Coat Systems, is a case that we wrote about on Monday. Banner & Witcoff’s Aseet Patel and Peter Nigrelli have just said the following about the case, citing a Microsoft case in favour of software patents (Enfish):

There are several takeaways from Finjan. xi Notably, building on its precedent in Enfish, the Federal Circuit has reaffirmed that purely software-based inventions that do no interact with the tangible world remain patent-eligible subject matter. Moreover, the Finjan court’s reasoning reiterates the importance of drafting a patent specification that showcases and contrasts inadequacies of prior art solutions. Finally, Finjan underscores the continuing importance of claim construction in obtaining a favorable patent-eligibility holding—even more so when the claimed method only recites three steps.

Finjan’s trolling being used to support and promote the software patents agenda? Surely convenient for Microsoft. We expect to hear a lot more about this troll’s lawsuits and hear nothing at all from the Linux Foundation. Microsoft paid a lot of money for the Linux Foundation to not intervene and simply pretend that “Microsoft loves Linux” (while it’s taxing it and attacking it using patents).

01.16.18

Microsoft’s Patent Racket Has Just Been Broadened to Threaten GNU/Linux Users Who Don’t Pay Microsoft ‘Rents’

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 12:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Racket“We’ll defend you from the very same patent trolls whom we feed”

“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments”…”

Matt Asay

Summary: Microsoft revisits its aggressive patent strategy which it failed to properly implement 12 years ago with Novell; it wants to ‘collect’ a patent tax on GNU/Linux and it uses patent trolls to make that easier

THE CONNECTION of Microsoft to patent trolls is very obvious. The world’s largest troll (Intellectual Ventures) came from Microsoft, Acacia (patent troll which habitually sues GNU/Linux vendors) has former Microsoft staff, MOSAID (another patent troll) received Nokia’s patents at Microsoft’s instructions, Microsoft’s co-founder has a patent troll (Interval Research Corporation) and Bill Gates himself is directly connected to several patent trolls (some of which he funds).

“What Microsoft’s patent strategists are doing these days is incredibly similar to what they did with Novell in 2006 and similarly called “Advantage”…”About a year ago Microsoft came up with a new plan [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. We wrote many articles about it (nearly 20 in total) and we last wrote about it a month ago in relation to the Provenance Asset Group [1, 2]. What Microsoft’s patent strategists are doing these days is incredibly similar to what they did with Novell in 2006 and similarly called “Advantage” (as in buy SUSE, pay Microsoft, and lower risk of lawsuits from Microsoft and/or its proxies at the time).

Do not be misled by patent propaganda from Microsoft in tweets and in article form (examples from this week alone). Also do not be misled by shallow, poor coverage like this from a few hours ago. The headline euphemistically states “Microsoft extends patent protection shield on-premises,” but what really happens here is a lot simpler: Microsoft extends patent ‘protection’ racket, sends patents to patent trolls and then says, “come to us, we’re safe!”

From the article:

The company hoped that those efforts would let developers do what they do best in Azure, without having to worry about patent trolls popping up from under a bridge. Redmond didn’t offer the service as a perfect shield, but claimed the service was at least better than similar programs from other clouds.

In the pages of The Register lawyer Barry Sookman’s analysis of the program suggested the program’s real purpose may have been to make it hard for patent trolls to open up a new front against Microsoft by suing its customers for patent infringement. Sookman also said the protections offered aren’t super-useful to end-users.

And yet the author missed the whole point! He clearly did not seek to explore the commonly-understood interpretation of Microsoft’s strategy (already covered in various Web sites). So let’s look at the comments, shall we?

“So other people too are ‘getting’ it; they ‘get’ Microsoft’s thinking, unlike some journalists who overlook the real plot and portray this as some sort of goodwill gesture from Microsoft (which claims that it ‘hates’ trolls while actually passing loads of patents to them).”“Protection shield or racket,” says the sole comment on this article. “”It’d be really bad if something bad happened to you so consider joining our platform” says MS.”

So other people too are ‘getting’ it; they ‘get’ Microsoft’s thinking, unlike some journalists who overlook the real plot and portray this as some sort of goodwill gesture from Microsoft (which claims that it ‘hates’ trolls while actually passing loads of patents to them).

12.23.17

Ericsson and Microsoft-Led Nokia Crush Companies That Make Phones With Linux, BlackBerry Becomes Litigation Firm

Posted in Apple, Asia, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nokia used to make phones, now it’s just doing Microsoft's 'Jihad' in the dark (back room)

Nokia light

Summary: With an abundance of software patents which target ‘apps’ or designs of phones, companies that no longer make phones (or barely sell any) go preying on those who do, Huawei being one of the latest victims (it will hereon pay Nokia ‘protection’ money)

THE MOBILE industry is no fun. It’s not fun anymore. Not for developers anyway. Too many patents, too many lawsuits, too many threats of lawsuits. Over the years we wrote about ‘censorship’ of many so-called ‘apps’ using mere threats of patent litigation; some software developers just pack up and run away. They stop distributing their software due to software patents and aggressive entities (not always patent trolls). A lot of these stories are untold because telling them out in public can lead to retaliation; it’s no secret that patent extortion is often accompanied by/laced with some kind of ‘gag orders’; the same goes for NDAs as it goes for ‘silence money’. Sometimes one party is forced to congratulate the extortionist with a press release (as part of the settlement). It ain’t pretty. I heard stories. Some people phone me. I can’t quite tell all the stories I’ve heard; not without omitting names (people’s and firms’), which would render articles pretty vague and thus worthless.

“Sometimes one party is forced to congratulate the extortionist with a press release (as part of the settlement).”A few days ago the FFII’s President caught this couple of tweets [1, 2] from Matt Larson‏, who is quite knowledgeable in this area. The article is restricted in terms of access, but the gist goes like this: “Judge Selna’s TCL-Ericsson FRAND patent licensing decision is out. Slashes Ericsson’s offered rates, awards $16M for TCL unlicensed sales from 2007-2015. Notes available on @TheTerminal [...] Decision covers Ericsson’s portfolio of patents deemed essential to 2G, 3G, 4G standards. Wild divergence from last week’s $75 million jury verdict for TCL’s infringement of a single Ericsson patent.”

You read that tight. One single patent, $75,000,000 in a jury verdict. There’s also no way around such patents (in standards). One must pay to ‘play’. Where does that leave small and vulnerable companies?

As we have shown here many times before, Ericsson and its various proxies worldwide (it uses several trolls) are running after a lot of companies, demanding ‘protection’ money from several directions at once. It’s patent stacking and it has even come to London. Now that Microsoft has turned Nokia into a patent troll (which typically preys on Linux and Android), we are seeing similar strategies from Nokia. So one ends up paying lots of money to a Swedish company and a Finnish company which barely make any phones anymore. Ain’t that just lovely?

“Mind the date on the press release. Nokia did it last Christmas as well (against Apple); it does the trolling just before or during Christmas in order to dodge negative publicity.”“Nokia-planP is happening,” the FFII’s President wrote the other day, “they have morphed in a patent troll going after Huawei now…”

“PlanP” is a domain name he once registered (it was part of an Internet-wide joke at the time) and the P stands for “patents”. What he (Benjamin Henrion of Belgium) is alluding to is this press release nobody bothers writing about. Mind the date on the press release. Nokia did it last Christmas as well (against Apple); it does the trolling just before or during Christmas in order to dodge negative publicity. Nokia’s press release (control of narrative, as part of the settlement) says this:

While details of the license agreement remain confidential, Nokia will follow its existing practices for disclosing patent licensing revenue in its quarterly financial reports and expects that revenue for the agreement will begin to be recognized in the fourth quarter of 2017, including an element of non-recurring catch-up revenue, with additional revenues expected during the term of the agreement.

From the above it’s implied that Huawei, one of the world’s largest Android OEMs (and also one of China’s largest companies), will pay Nokia ‘protection’ money. Microsoft long pursued this kind of ‘protection’ money from Huawei, but it never quite got it. The media wrote about several years ago. Huawei was one of the very few companies that stood up to Microsoft, but a Microsoft-infiltrated Nokia has just managed to put a ‘tax’ on Android at Huawei. Bad day for Linux enthusiasts (the few who actually noticed this).

Expect Microsoft and its proxies to never rest until they tax all Android OEMs, extracting billions of dollars from them (per annum) without lifting a finger! It will be done from numerous directions simultaneously, hence patent stacking. It’s a legal term, but it’s a potentially illegal practice.

“Expect Microsoft and its proxies to never rest until they tax all Android OEMs, extracting billions of dollars from them (per annum) without lifting a finger!”According to some other news, including this Interview with George Brostoff (SensibleVision), more legal action may be on the way. “OnePlus Could Be Sued For Face Unlock Patent Infringement,” said this headline this weekend and days prior to it there was a lot more coverage [1, 2, 3]. Since then (Thursday/Friday) more reports like these have emerged (almost a dozen, primarily in Android or Indian sites) and it certainly looks like SensibleVision will be choking/trolling Linux/Android. Where does this end? These are software patents. A “face unlock feature” is so basic a concept (pertaining to computer vision, which is software too) that courts are likely to reject a patent on it. So who does SensibleVision want to go after? Little OnePlus. Not a large company like Huawei…

“BlackBerry’s strategy is to shake down real companies that really sell something. It’s a shakedown (some would say “trolling”) strategy. Just like Microsoft, Nokia, and Ericsson.”Speaking of large companies, BlackBerry was a large player before it turned into somewhat of a patent troll. According to Indian media (still active around Christmas time), BlackBerry made $50,000,000 from threatening to sue companies. “Revenue from intellectual property and licensing surged 67 percent to $50 million,” it says. “A jump in that category had provided an unexpected boost to second-quarter earnings…”

BlackBerry used to have a turnover of tens of billions, so how much of a ‘victory’ is this? Does BlackBerry envision itself as a litigation firm? As Forbes put it 2 days ago (in the headline) “IP Licensing Drive BlackBerry’s Q3″.

So they too are a parasite now. BlackBerry’s strategy is to shake down real companies that really sell something. It’s a shakedown (some would say “trolling”) strategy. Just like Microsoft, Nokia, and Ericsson.

11.13.17

Microsoft: Sheltering Oneself From Patent Litigation While Passing Patents for Trolls to Attack GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 12:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not a novel concept [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]

Viking shield

Summary: Another closer look at Provenance Asset Holdings and what exactly it is (connection to AST, part of the cartel Microsoft subsidises to shield itself)

THE latest anti-GNU/Linux (or anti-Android) strategy of Microsoft is to pass patents to trolls and tax OEMs that do not stock/ship/bundle Windows. We warned about such a strategy as far back as 11 years ago. When it comes to Nokia, Microsoft has already instructed Nokia to spread its patents, moving these to shells like MOSAID (now known as Conversant). Recently, thousands of Nokia’s patents also landed on the lap of a mysterious new entity known as Provenance Asset Holdings [1, 2].

“…Microsoft has already instructed Nokia to spread its patents, moving these to shells like MOSAID (now known as Conversant).”According to today’s blog post from IAM, there’s a connection to AST (Linda Biel) and Yahoo, another firm that Microsoft effectively hijacked just less than a decade ago. To quote: “AST has appointed former Yahoo! IP executive Ray Strimaitis as vice president, corporate development and global strategy. Although Strimaitis’s role looks like it will be broader, he is effectively replacing Linda Biel who left the defensive aggregator last month and has joined Provenance Asset Holdings, the new platform created by former AST head Dan McCurdy.

“They’re a form of “big boys’ cartel” which provides few companies shelter that small companies do not enjoy.”“Strimaitis will be responsible for recruiting members both in new industry verticals and new geographies. Although AST’s membership includes a range of major tech businesses, such as Google, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle, it remains relatively small when compared with defensive rival RPX and it has not been able to recruit many new members from emerging markets such as China or in the small to medium sized corporate market.”

We wrote about AST and RPX many times before. They’re a form of “big boys’ cartel” which provides few companies shelter that small companies do not enjoy. All in all, it acts just like a pyramid scheme which benefits only those at the very top. And speaking of shelters, The New Yorker is the latest to write about Allergan’s patent “scam” that made the Mohawks too look like scammers. This was published a few hours ago (ahead of next week’s edition) and to quote the writer’s conclusion:

Maneuvers like Shore’s rarely go unchallenged. Last month, a federal judge in Texas ruled that some of Allergan’s Restasis patents were invalid. (The company has said that it will appeal.) The judge also commented that “sovereign immunity should not be treated as a monetizable commodity.” On the same basis, some members of Congress, led by Senator Claire McCaskill, are so annoyed that they’re calling for the abrogation of Native American sovereign immunity in patent-claims cases. This is theoretically possible, because the sovereign immunity of tribes, unlike that of states, isn’t enshrined in the Eleventh Amendment. But Shore points out that such a measure would penalize Native Americans without actually closing the loophole. If Congress limits tribal immunity, he could easily shift the patent portfolios to state universities. Shore says that he’s in talks with several underfunded state-run historically black colleges and universities. As long as there’s money to be made gaming the system, he figures it’s desirable (and good P.R.) for some of that money to go to those who need it most.

Here is another key statement: “Soon, tribal leaders say, they will have a small portfolio of patents, covering other medicines and also computer software and hardware. No tribe members were involved in designing these products.”

“There’s lots of money allocated these days to the “Microsoft loves Linux” PR campaign.”This relates to Microsoft in the sense that it’s passing patents to entities which cannot be sued. They’re classic trolls whose sole purpose is to “monetise” (to use their euphemism) these patents. How can Microsoft get away with all this and still be called a company that “loves Linux”? Even when it’s corrupting officials in Munich in order for them to dump GNU/Linux? Well, there are corruptible journalists everywhere looking for easy cash (the publishers can offer that, Microsoft pays for ads). There’s lots of money allocated these days to the “Microsoft loves Linux” PR campaign.

11.07.17

Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Pick Up Patents Whilst Attacking GNU/Linux and Dodging Infringement

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 7:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”

Mark Shuttleworth

Mafia

Summary: Microsoft and Intellectual Ventures are still pursuing and picking up patents of defunct operations; at the same time they leverage such patents against Microsoft’s competition, notably products/services with GNU/Linux

PATENT blackmail and extortion giant Microsoft has been the subject of this site for 11 years (it's our anniversary today). It was the original issue which gave purpose to this site. Microsoft decided to threaten and bully GNU/Linux OEMs, bolstered by a deal it had struck with Novell in November 2006.

“We need to keep an eye on this because Microsoft already reproduces its Novell strategy by offering indemnification only to people who pay Microsoft monthly rents…”According to this morning’s blog post from a Microsoft- and trolls-friendly site, Microsoft picks up more patents with which to habitually attack GNU/Linux OEMs. “The most recent assignment,” it says, “recorded one week ago, is Seiko Epson’s biggest of 2017 so far. Microsoft looks to be getting 33 US patent rights as part of an overall global package of just under 130 assets. While Microsoft has picked up significant portfolios in the last few years from the likes of Toshiba and LG Electronics, it is not a regular acquirer portfolios from other operating companies; that may be changing, though, as the company expands its ‘patent pick’ offering to cloud customers through the Azure IP Advantage programme.”

It then speaks of Intellectual Ventures (IV), Microsoft’s biggest patent troll with over 70,000 patents and Microsoft’s former CTO in sole charge. “If this last portfolio is NPE-bound,” the blog says. “it is not necessarily the first time that Seiko Epson has done a deal with this type of entity (even excepting IP Bridge!). In 2016, the Japanese firm transferred 53 US patents to Intellectuals High-Tech KFT, which IAM reported appears to be an Intellectual Ventures vehicle. Those assets did not end up in litigation however – they were soon passed on to a Chinese display maker.”

“As it stands at the moment, Microsoft is believed to be pocketing billions of dollars each year from threatening Linux hosts/OEMs using software patents.”We need to keep an eye on this because Microsoft already reproduces its Novell strategy by offering indemnification only to people who pay Microsoft monthly rents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] (while at the the same time distributing patents to aggressive patent trolls, both directly and indirectly).

In other news, regarding MasterMine v Microsoft (covered here over the weekend, back in the summer and the week before that), Peter Leung from Bloomberg speaks of Microsoft’s setback:

Microsoft Corp.’s software doesn’t infringe two patents on exporting data to spreadsheets, a federal appeals court held Oct. 30 while also ruling the patents themselves aren’t invalid.The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a trial court ruling that several of the claims in patents held by MasterMine Software Inc. were invalid as indefinite because they covered both methods and systems. A patent claim can cover a method for performing a task, or an apparatus, which is often referred to as a system ( MasterMine Software, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp. , Fed. Cir., No. 16-2465, 10/30/17 ).

We don’t believe this case will be enough to compel Microsoft to change its strategy and call for elimination of software patents. As it stands at the moment, Microsoft is believed to be pocketing billions of dollars each year from threatening Linux hosts/OEMs using software patents. They pay ‘protection’ money.

“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.”

Mark Shuttleworth

10.28.17

Canon Has Proven That Microsoft’s Shell Game With Patent Trolls Makes ‘Peace’ Deals (Paying ‘Protection’ Money) Futile, Belatedly Joins OIN

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 1:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft will never co-exist with Linux; it just wants to eat it alive

Canon camera

Summary: The Open Invention Network (OIN), whose CEO used to talk about how Microsoft would attempt to pass patents for patent trolls to attack GNU/Linux, adds Canon as a community member and we are attempting to keep track of Microsoft’s intricate shell game (securing a multi-billion dollar patent ‘tax’ on Linux)

THE many patent trolls out there are not the main problem; the main problem is software patents, which patent trolls love to use. Lawsuits may have moved out of Texas, but patent trolls are still active and according to this group which is keeping track of such valuable, illuminating statistics: “Of the 26 patent suits filed on Friday, 15 were filed by patent trolls — that’s 58%.”

“Shortly after Microsoft blackmailed Canon for using Linux — using software patents as an extortion tool — Canon was sued by Microsoft’s biggest troll (Intellectual Ventures).”Sometimes it’s more like 90%. It depends on the day. We once estimated that about 90% of “news” about patents also boil down to lies and marketing from the patent ‘industry’, so it’s not easy to get the truth in this domain. One had to dig quite deep.

As we noted here before [1, 2], shortly after Canon had signed a patent agreement with Microsoft (probably protection racket) Microsoft’s biggest patent troll attacked Canon. These deals may be worthless if companies can go behind one’s back and send trolls to attack so-called ‘allies’. Several days ago Canon announced that it was joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), but that’s not going to protect is from patent trolls. Shortly after Microsoft blackmailed Canon for using Linux — using software patents as an extortion tool — Canon was sued by Microsoft’s biggest troll (Intellectual Ventures). How can OIN help in such a scenario? There is nothing it can do. Here is what the press release says:

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that Canon has joined as a community member. As a global leader in such fields as professional and consumer imaging and printing systems and solutions, and having expanded its medical and industrial equipment businesses, Canon is demonstrating its commitment to open source software as an enabler of innovation across a wide spectrum of industries.

“A key innovator in many technologies, Canon is one of the world’s most sophisticated corporations in developing and managing intellectual property,” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. “Canon has further distinguished itself by joining both the LOT Network and OIN. As a large patent holder, Canon has recognized the importance of participating in these complementary defensive patent networks together as part of a comprehensive IP strategy.”

“Open source technology, especially Linux, has led to profound increases in capabilities across a number of key industries, while increasing overall product and service efficiency,” said Hideki Sanatake, an Executive Officer, Deputy Group Executive of Corporate Intellectual Properties and Legal Headquarters at Canon. “By joining Open Invention Network, we are demonstrating our continued commitment to innovation, and supporting it with patent non-aggression in Linux.”

It speaks of “patent non-aggression in Linux,” but Microsoft is still aggressive (with patents) against Linux and it claims to be a ‘contributor’ to Linux (it certainly contributes to headaches). Microsoft’s ‘contributions’ in Munich speak for themselves. Financial ‘contributions’ to officials more-like…

“Dominion Harbor received a lot of patents from Microsoft’s patent troll (Intellectual Ventures) and a similar number of patents is passed from the Microsoft-connected Nokia.”Last week we mentioned VirnetX, which is a patent troll that got paid by Microsoft. It is still suing Apple, again earlier this month, and the following new blog post mentions Document Security Systems (DDS) in relation to the same business [sic] model of patent trolls. They intend to do nothing but prey on companies; no products in the pipeline:

Back in June, VirnetX Holding Corp announced plans to sell a 10% stake in itself to an obscure Japanese partner billed as a consortium of Japanese corporations and financial institutions. The PIPCO (which trades on the NYSE American exchange) was set to gain $20 million in expansion capital as well as an entrée into a potentially lucrative market for licensing its secure communications technologies and patents. But according to recent SEC filings, the stake in VirnetX will no longer change hands after the company’s favourable US district court verdict against Apple boosted its share price.

[...]

Times are tough for PIPCOs, no doubt, and it can’t be easy for them to find investors. VirnetX isn’t the only such company we’ve seen look to Asia for financing: Document Security Systems did a stock swap with a Singapore businessman only last month to save itself from being de-listed from the NYSE American exchange. Listed licensing companies understandably want to diversify, and Asia is a natural ground for expansion. But the big patent players in Asia have so far focused their partnerships on private NPEs and national patent funds like IP Bridge and Intellectual Discovery. I don’t expect that will change anytime soon.

This same blog, which favours patent trolls (we track it for information about trolls), speaks about InterDigital. We have been writing about InterDigital since 2007 and it turns out now that an antitrust investigation against it falls through. Here they go again pursuing a tax (share of it) on every mobile device:

What it doesn’t include, though, is some of the other giant SEP holders such as Qualcomm, InterDigital, Ericsson and Nokia. They have largely resisted attempts to license their wireless patents through pools, although the first three have joined Avanci, the collective licensing platform headed by former Ericsson CIPO Kasim Alfalahi that is looking to license patents relating to 2G, 3G and 4G mobile technology in a number of different Internet of Things (IoT) verticals.

What’s also worth noticing is that Nokia (mentioned above) has just passed thousands of patents to some obscure entity. We previously showed how Microsoft-connected patent trolls had been fed by Microsoft in order for them to attack Microsoft’s rivals. That’s why the following might be important. Portions from this new blog post:

Last Friday, this blog broke the story of a huge portfolio of Nokia assets that had been acquired by Provenance Asset Group, a company set up by IP advisory business Quatela Lynch McCurdy (QLM). With around 4,000 US assets it looks to be amomg the largest transactions so far in 2017.

[...]

Nokia’s recent spate of transfers is one reason for the significant jump. As well as the large stockpile recently acquired by PAG, the Finnish telco has also put a portfolio of 6,000 patents up for sale through AQUA Licensing. Following its purchase of Alcatel-Lucent last year, which significantly boosted its patent reserves, Nokia has clearly been busy assessing the size and scope of its portfolio. Intellectual Ventures has also shaken up the secondary deals market, significantly ramping up its rate of sales including, earlier this year, the disposal of around 4,000 former Kodak patents to Dominion Harbor.

Dominion Harbor received a lot of patents from Microsoft’s patent troll (Intellectual Ventures) and a similar number of patents is passed from the Microsoft-connected Nokia. Does that mean that Android will be targeted next? Time will tell, but that seems likely.

Microsoft is trying to make this entire space very toxic (lots of patent lawsuits and patent tax) in order to entice companies/people into Azure for perceived ‘safety’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. That’s how it also coerces Android OEMs into pre-installing Microsoft software.

10.21.17

Microsoft and Nokia’s Patent Trolls by Proxy: First Conversant, Now Provenance Asset Group Holdings LLC

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Provenance Asset Group Holdings has no presence on the Web; it’s only mentioned by IAM and this shady page

Rhode Island courtSummary: Microsoft’s shell game with patents (passing Android-hostile patents to trolls) carries on and publishers funded by these trolls offer the details, albeit vaguely and with obvious spin

FIVE years ago, after this long case which we had been covering for a long time, Uniloc was probably paid hundreds of millions of dollars by Microsoft (they never revealed the exact amount of money).

“Microsoft also fed Nokia’s patents to MOSAID (now known as Conversant, one of the funding sources of IAM) and Google complained that Microsoft was feeding this patent troll in order to extort Android OEMs.”This patent troll, Uniloc, does not make anything. It’s just suing a lot of companies and it is still going after Apple. This post from last night said:

After a brief hiatus, patent troll Uniloc is back and looking to milk Apple for claimed damages and fees related to allegedly infringed patents, this time involving Apple Watch GPS functionality.

At the same time we also see Nokia, not too long after it was hijacked by Microsoft (the Elop routine), shaking down Apple for a lot of money (possibly several billions of dollars) and BlackBerry is going down a similar route.

“Basically, Microsoft not only killed Nokia’s business but it is also making it a patent troll, sometimes by proxy (by passing Nokia’s patents to classic trolls).”As a reminder, Microsoft also fed Nokia’s patents to MOSAID (now known as Conversant, one of the funding sources of IAM) and Google complained that Microsoft was feeding this patent troll in order to extort Android OEMs. Basically, Microsoft not only killed Nokia’s business but it is also making it a patent troll, sometimes by proxy (by passing Nokia’s patents to classic trolls).

Yesterday this blog post from IAM revealed that yet more of Nokia’s patents are being scattered to trolls. Acacia, which is connected to Microsoft, got mentioned and also Conversant, which pays IAM for such bias. Here we go again:

In what looks like one of the biggest patent deals of the year so far, Nokia has transferred a portfolio of almost 4,000 US grants to an entity called Provenance Asset Group Holdings LLC. The deal was recorded on the USPTO assignment database in mid-September. Although full details of the deal and the team behind Provenance are not yet clear, former AST head and RPX executive Dan McCurdy lists on his LinkedIn page that he became CEO of Provenance in September 2017. Late last year McCurdy left RPX to team up with Tim Lynch and Laura Quatela’s IP advisory business which is now known as Quatela Lynch McCurdy. Quatela is currently the chief legal officer at Lenovo but previously served as vice president of IP at Alcatel Lucent where she was based at the time of Nokia’s initial bid for the company.

[...]

Ever since it started to re-order its operations including the sale of its devices business to Microsoft, the Finnish company has been a relatively active seller of patents including to the likes of Acacia and Conversant. In a tough assertion market those assets have been monetised with varying degrees of success, but it’s interesting that with this latest transfer the giant telco has opted to work with one entity rather than do a series of smaller deals. The portfolio currently being sold by AQUA has been made available to buy in whole or in part.

It will be interesting to see what happens with these patents next (if not behind closed doors then out in public). Never underestimate Microsoft’s hatred of Linux, Google, and Android (unless Microsoft can blackmail the OEMs into pre-loading Android with Microsoft software).

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