Reference: Police get warrant for entire Minnesota city’s Google searches in wire fraud case
Summary: Putting in perspective the campaign for justice at the EPO, which to a large degree relies on whistleblowers and thus depends a great deal on freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and anonymity
WHEN we started covering the social conflict at the EPO (we had already written about the EPO, but different aspects of it, typically but not always software patents in Europe), Merpel had beaten us to it. Merpel started writing about it in early 2014 if not 2013; we only started studying the conflict in early 2014 and published nothing about it until the summer of that year. Prior to that we had written a lot about software patents at the USPTO; remember that this was almost exactly the same time as Alice (summer of 2014), wherein the US Supreme Court ruled against software patents — in retrospect a truly historic decision with profound implications (more so than In Re Bilski).
“In the interim, truth itself got compromised, human rights got abolished, and the workplace atmosphere darkened.”I’ve written about software patents since my teenage years or early twenties (at different capacities), so the subject isn’t new to me. It’s a very important subject, particularly so as more and more things get implemented in software over time. The issues associated with overpatenting visibly irritated EPO staff too. About a decade ago we wrote about and posted many photographs from an EPO walkout. Things got a lot more serious in recent years, as management chose to start a campaign of oppression rather than a process of reconciliation. In the interim, truth itself got compromised, human rights got abolished, and the workplace atmosphere darkened.
IP Kat, to its credit, especially Merpel and Jeremy, wrote about the conflict. But some people chose to move on, possibly at the worst time. “Don’t stop covering the EPO,” one person wrote the other day. “Everything changes, so does the IPKat. Don’t change too much please. It would be good if you could keep some of the charm this blog used to have in abundance under Jeremy, Johanna, Illana, Brigit [sic], David.”
“Jeremy,” another person wrote, “Jeremy! Wherefore art thou Jeremy? Missing you…”
“Many ‘free’ (public) hotspots engage in DPI and try hard to decipher one’s identity, then put the data up for sale.”Well, he retired after he had made a real difference in EPO matters. Since then it has felt like free speech suffered a bit. “I wonder why my comment was deleted,” a person said a couple of days ago, “my question is genuine: what is the point of this post?”
IP Kat censorship has become a real issue that we’ve composed several articles about as some of our readers had their comments deleted. I too had my few comments there deleted. I know the feeling and I know it’s not due to obscenities. And yet, when the EPO censored IP Kat I stood up for them. Now, a year later, rather than the EPO censoring IP Kat it’s IP Kat self-censoring, i.e. not covering EPO scandals anymore.
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men,” Plato said. It seems apt now.
“For some people, this could potentially be threatening to their career (if Google, which is close to the EPO, was ever to drop a hint to Team Battistelli).”“…a thousand quarrels arise and numberless insults of offensive words could be heard across the IP world,” said this person over the weekend (responses to that were posted last night), but many of these insults are heard offline, not online. When asked about it confidentially, it’s clear how stakeholders feel about the EPO.
Thankfully, quite a few insiders and stakeholders have, over the years, left anonymous comments in IP Kat, which at one point added a restriction by insisting that people at least use a pseudonym (that was about 2 years ago). Such pseudonyms only represent growing danger as they enable correlation between disparate comments, potentially posted from different locations (e.g. one from home and another from a public hotspot somewhere). We have all along warned that Google (which owns and operates Blogspot) cannot be trusted for anonymity and we cited court cases to that effect. Things escalated even further in recent weeks (earlier this month) as Google’s practice of activity/log retention is clearly becoming a liability to users. One journalist asked me about it the other day, knowing that I’ve covered privacy for a number of years. It’s worth quoting just so that readers are aware of the pitfalls of Google for anonymity:
Dear Dr. Roy Schestowitz,
I was forwarded your contact information by █████. My name is ████ Walsh and I write for ████ about digital privacy and > cybersecurity issues. I am currently writing a story about Edina Police in Minnesota being granted a warrant to collect every person’s data that searched for a specific name on Google during a 5 week period. The police believe that someone from the area searched for the victim’s photo on Google to create a fake passport.
The implications for digital privacy are obviously huge, as this could set quite a nasty precedent. The warrant is far too broad and if this type of procedure became the norm it is a slippery slope toward blanket search engine surveillance. The good news is that Google does intend (apparently) to fight the warrant. Any quote on the subject from yourself (plus how you would like me to refer to you in the article) would be a valuable addition to the article. Thanks.
My response was this: “The core of the problem is that Google logs and maintains (in the long run) logs of people who search, what they search for, and even compiles this information (for purposes of advertising or customised results) in a fashion that facilitates such warrants. No search engine ought to collect this much information. People who choose to use search engines that do put themselves at risk of wrongful accusations, i.e. a potential legal Hell even if they are entirely innocent. Society which is based on the principles of privacy is required for free inquiry, be it about a particular topic, a person, and a lot more.”
This is true also for comments, not just search. It is likely that Google has the real identity of each anonymous commenter who ever left a comment at IP Kat (based on browser cookies/MAC address/DPI and so on). Many ‘free’ (public) hotspots engage in DPI and try hard to decipher one’s identity, then put the data up for sale. For some people, this could potentially be threatening to their career (if Google, which is close to the EPO, was ever to drop a hint to Team Battistelli). Such leads needn’t be traceable back to Google if Parallel Construction tricks were implemented. We already know, based on one EPO dismissal (Els Hardon), that EPO investigators managed to intrude Google’s GMail. Whether that was owing to hidden cameras, screenshots, keylogging, DPI or even a tip from Google (or spying agencies that intercept Google traffic and are connected to Control Risks) we don’t know. Whatever the case may be, never trust anything from Google to preserve anonymity or even offer true anonymity in the first place (incompatible with Google’s business model). █
Older: Why Anonymous Dissent Against EPO on Google Platforms May be Risky
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Faking ‘innovation’ by just stockpiling patents (to flex muscles and sue rivals) rather than earning leadership based on merit
Summary: Google’s protectionist embrace of patents — including software patents — in order to drive competitors out of business and potentially monopolise this whole area is a disturbing if not inconvenient truth
Published last year was the article "With Software Patents in Autonomous Cars Few Giants Want a Monopoly on Driving, Not Physical Car Components," which was partly based on my experiences developing software for applied computer vision in cars (computing for car navigation, using Google’s Android as the underlying platform). Is Google now becoming the Nemesis of developers in this emergent area? Last week we said that it had become apparent that Google is a patent bully in the field, having filed a lawsuit. These are, for the most part, software patents and now that Google strives to become the standard (see this article titled “Self-driving cars might need standards, but whose?”) we can’t help but envision FRAND in cars too, as in some patent thicket all car makers will need to blindly accept and submit to.
According to this report from Bloomberg, “Google [disguised as "Alphabet" is] Top Filer of Self-Driving Car Lidar Patents”. From the report:
Technology giant Alphabet Inc.’s Google has the biggest trove of U.S. patents related to the crucial autonomous-car technology that’s at the heart of its dispute with Uber Technologies Inc., Bloomberg Law data show.
The future is likely to bring even more patent and trade-secret disputes, as carmakers and technology companies race to deliver the first commercially viable self-driving cars to consumers.
It’s troubling to think that Google already uses patents in this domain, probably in an effort to tax/push out rivals. We are likely to see more of that in the future. This was the first time in history that Google actually initiated a patent war. █
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How long and how much more will it take for the Supreme Court to realise there is a profound issue in Texas?
Summary: The lack of justice in the American patent system, where trolls receive favourable treatment from particular judges and one bogus patent (now invalid) can earn a person over $45 million in ‘protection’ money, necessitates firm and decisive intervention from the US Supreme Court
Federal Circuit Once Again Overrules Mistakes by the Kangaroo Patent Court of Rodney Gilstrap in the Eastern District of Texas
Kangaroo courts are not monopolised by the EPO and the USPTO hasn’t a monopoly on bad patents, either (thankfully, the USPTO is actually improving and lowering the incentive for trolls). The US Supreme Court, together with CAFC below it, already do a fine job, further aided by PTAB (the appeals board) for quicker and cheaper determinations against bad patents.
When Apple celebrates the death of bad patents we too are happy, even if we are far from friends of Apple (we used to call for boycotts). Apple has just defeated Smartflash and there are a lot of articles about this, especially or initially in pro-Apple sites. Headlines include “Apple has $533m verdict against iTunes software patents thrown”, “Apple won’t have to pay $533 million to an iTunes patent troll”, “U.S. appeals court tosses patent verdict against Apple”, and “Apple tastes victory against Smartflash at Federal Circuit”.
“When Apple celebrates the death of bad patents we too are happy, even if we are far from friends of Apple (we used to call for boycotts).”“This ruling isn’t surprising,” one of the above articles states, “as US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap ordered a damages retrial, saying the jury’s view of Apple’s infringement might have been confused by his instructions on how properly to calculate royalties.”
But the pro-trolls Judge Rodney Gilstrap did not in fact dispute a liability. To him, it was just a matter of how much money would be paid. First to cover the news, as far as we were able to see, was Michael Loney of MIP. He wrote about it as early as yesterday, noting that CAFC had found yet another ruling from the notorious Eastern District of Texas to be bunk. “The Federal Circuit has found invalid three Smartflash patents,” he wrote, “reversing the Eastern District of Texas.”
Eolas Driven Out of the Eastern District of Texas
There is another important development down in Texas and Joe Mullin probably wrote the best report about it (Mullin is quite the expert in this domain). To quote Mullin:
Eolas Technologies, which has been called a “patent troll,” has continued to file against big companies, even after losing a landmark 2012 trial. But following an appeals court order (PDF) last week, Eolas will have to pursue its lawsuits in California—not its preferred patent hotspot of East Texas.
As of Friday, Eolas’ lawsuits against Google has been transferred to the Northern District of California. The move could reduce Eolas’ chances of winning a settlement or verdict since East Texas courts have been viewed by some as favoring patent holders. Similar lawsuits against Amazon and Wal-Mart remain in East Texas, for now.
Michael Loney wrote about it too, noting that CAFC is potentially moving trolls out of that notorious Eastern District of Texas (even before the Supreme Court rules on TC Heartland LLC v Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC). To quote:
Google’s request for a writ of mandamus to transfer a case brought by Eolas Technologies to the Northern District of California from the Eastern District of Texas has been granted, with the Federal Circuit citing “a clear abuse of discretion”
Eolas was mentioned here as far back as one decade ago and many more times since. It’s definitely a patent troll, but Mullin put the word “troll” (in the headline) and “patent troll” (in the body) within scare quotes, perhaps fearing legal action against the publisher (his employer).
Software patents, as in the above case, are bunk, but it’s very expensive (usually too expensive) going to court to show it (especially if there are appeals). This means that most defendants will silently fold and pay the Mafia (or troll) ‘protection’ money. Insistent and persistent aggressors or trolls, some of whom are well-funded, will just file more and more motions until the defendant — even if repeatedly deemed innocent — decides that it’s simply cheaper to settle. It means that wealth trumps justice and it can be exploited time after time, by simply choosing vulnerable litigation targets which are almost certainly going to buckle.
“Software patents, as in the above case, are bunk, but it’s very expensive (usually too expensive) going to court to show it (especially if there are appeals).”Speaking of software patents, this tweet says that “Salesforce tries to patent Records Management……quick take” (in an image).
Erich Spangenberg Turns Out to be a Patent ‘Fraud’
In the above cases we see deep-pocketed companies like Google and Apple fighting back, again and again, simply because they can afford it. So can smaller (but still very large companies) such as Newegg, which already spent millions of dollars on very few patent cases — and that’s just in legal fees!
According to Mullin’s other new report, mega-troll Erich Spangenberg went after Newegg and finally (belatedly) lost. That’s another software patent dead and we can expect more to come; it’s expensive to prove the invalidity. The USPTO should clean up this (its own) mess. PTAB helps towards that. Mullin wrote:
Patent-holding company TQP Development made millions claiming that it owned a breakthrough in Web encryption, even though most encryption experts had never heard of the company until it started a massive campaign of lawsuits. Yesterday, the company’s litigation campaign was brought to an end when a panel of appeals judges refused (PDF) to give TQP a second chance to collect on a jury verdict against Newegg.
The TQP patent was invented by Michael Jones, whose company Telequip briefly sold a kind of encrypted modem. The company sold about 30 models before the modem business went bust. Famed patent enforcer Erich Spangenberg bought the TQP patent in 2008 and began filing lawsuits, saying that the Jones patent actually entitled him to royalties on a basic form of SSL Internet encryption. Spangenberg and Jones ultimately made more than $45 million from the patent.
Will Spangenberg now refund the extortion money (more than $45 million), plus legal expenses? Or will this be another case of an invalid patent costing a fortune to countless companies, even though they were innocent all along because this patent was bogus?
We certainly hope that the Supreme Court is watching all these cases and will take them into account later this year when TC Heartland can become the new “patent killer” (precedent). █
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Marketing and an attack on one’s competition disguised as ‘news’
Summary: The new front against GNU/Linux, or the attempt by Microsoft to tax the platform using software patents, is glossed over in puff pieces from Microsoft, conveniently published under IAM’s own umbrella again
FOR a number of years now — and as recently as just months ago — we have been pointing out the role of IAM as mouthpiece/megaphone of Microsoft Corporation, or whoever pays the bills (e.g. by company-wide subscription). However one passes/creates financial strings, it’s not publicly disclosed and it can affect the editorial process.
Right now there is this new ‘article’ (actually ghostwritten) which repeats the lie that “Azure IP Advantage” is some sort of Earth-shattering thing and that it’s effective against trolls (it’s not because Microsoft cannot sue them; at best it could offer indemnification, but that’s not what this programme is about). It’s yet more of that scaremongering about what would happen to people, especially if they don’t pay Microsoft. We have already covered the subject in the following recent articles:
Is the Linux Foundation going to remark on Microsoft’s resort to software patents? Or playing dirty games with software patents in order to entice people? With Microsoft money on its table, the Linux Foundation’s staff is likely to just foolishly smile and hope that nobody will notice what kind of members it continues to let in.
A point worth emphasising about Azure’s supposed “IP Advantage” is, these are all Microsoft software patents, as inside mere VMs one can only run software. It’s not about hardware or gadgets; the “bare metal” argument in the context of so-called ‘clouds’ has totally changed.
In the above IAM piece, the editor in chief continues a pattern of speaking to Microsoft chiefs or former chiefs for talking points. In this case, it’s just a large copy-paste job. Why not just call IAM a “division of Microsoft” or something like that? Or the courier of sponsors, including patent trolls? They are doing this not for the first time, and it’s usually the same people (just reprinting them). Sometimes it’s the EPO. In Techrights alone we wrote about IAM’s proximity to Microsoft many times before (they also run on Microsoft platforms and proprietary software).
Here is a portion from this ‘article’:
Microsoft’s recent launch of its Azure IP Advantage programme for the company’s cloud customers has generated a great deal of coverage. On the IAM blog, we argued that it once again showed the company to be a world leader when it comes to creating value from its patent portfolio. Regular IAM blog contributor and former Microsoft chief patent counsel Bart Eppenauer – now managing partner of the Seattle office of Shook Hardy & Bacon – has put together a piece for us that explains why that is undoubtedly the case. Equally as important, however, is his observation that the Azure programme puts Microsoft way out ahead of the current number one cloud service provider, Amazon and its AWS programme, as well as (to a lesser extent) Google.
Microsoft can send trolls to attack Amazon or Amazon’s customers, then say, “flee to Microsoft or go bankrupt!” It’s not unthinkable given what we saw in recent history.
A lot of people use AWS to host GNU/Linux with a lot of Free software such as Apache. Only software patents can ever be asserted against customers of AWS and if Amazon was to offer indemnification of some kind, it would still enable Microsoft’s trolls to drive up the operation costs and thus hosting fees, rendering the platform less competitive. Amazon is actually one of the most sued (if not the most sued) company over patents.
As a side note, we often complain that Microsoft sends its trolls to attack Google. Microsoft’s legal targets (targets for bullies with patents) these days are typically Chrome or Chrome OS and Android, the GNU/Linux- and Linux-based operating systems (respectively) from Google. Microsoft goes after the pertinent OEMs as they have less incentive than Google to fight back in court. Having said that, Google too has gone to the dark side, as we noted a short while ago. TechDirt‘s founder too has just said that it’s “Disappointing To See Google’s Waymo Sue Over Patents” and this is what he published hours ago:
For years, we had pointed out that one of the nice things about the new generation of tech companies was that they rarely seemed to use patents offensively. Yes, they were subject to tons of patent lawsuits from trolls or from legacy players trying to hang on against innovators, but we’ve pointed out in the past that young companies innovate, while older companies litigate. So, we have a tendency to watch companies to see when they shift from being patent litigation defenders, to going on the offensive. For years — even as patent system supporters falsely claimed that Google only existed because of patents — it was good to see not a single example of Google going on the offensive and filing patent lawsuits against other companies.
That changed, unfortunately, back in 2012 when Google brought a patent lawsuit against Apple. Some argued that it wasn’t “really” Google, because it came from Motorola, a company that Google had purchased (mainly for the patents) and then only owned for a short while before dumping, but it was still a Google-owned property going on the offensive. At that time, we argued that if Google really wanted to support patent reform (as the company claimed) then it should stop being a patent aggressor.
Where are the large corporate actors that are willing to publicly and prominently fight back against software patents? Are there no real allies left, at least not among companies that grew too large to care? And what good is OIN or the Linux Foundation if they are mere lapdogs of some of the world’s largest patent bullies? █
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GNU/Linux-powered devices are habitually being targeted by artsy design patents, but might this end soon?
Summary: A company which often takes pride in designers rather than developers (art, not technical merit) may lose that leverage over the competition if its questionable patents are taken away by the Supremes
THE SCOTUS, in its current composition at least (many nominations and appointments by Democrats — a trend that is now changing), has handed down some important decisions on patents over the past half a decade and most of them were favourable to patent reformers. Reformist scope-oriented measures such as restriction if not elimination of software patents are just the tip of the iceberg; a few months ago we wrote about the Lexmark case.
“This time around it’s about the second California Apple v. Samsung case (the one that went to trial in 2014, resulting in a $119 million verdict).”
–Florian MüllerFlorian Müller scooped an important story the other day. “I tried to find media reports on Samsung’s new Apple v. Samsung Supreme Court petition,” he wrote, “and couldn’t find any, so maybe I scooped’em all” with the blog post “Samsung is now taking the second Apple v. Samsung patent case to the Supreme Court”. To quote: “The first Apple v. Samsung case went all the way up to the Supreme Court and has meanwhile gone all the way back to the Northern District of California to take a new look at the question of design patent damages. But the steps to the Supreme Court are like a revolving door for this huge commercial dispute: a new petition for writ of certiorari (request for Supreme Court review) is already in the making! This time around it’s about the second California Apple v. Samsung case (the one that went to trial in 2014, resulting in a $119 million verdict).”
Someone disputed the number, saying that “it’ll actually be the third. They had another petition denied on a very technical issue.”
Müller insisted, however, that “by “second case” I meant the second case filed by Apple against Samsung in U.S. district court…”
“If this is all that Apple has left in its future plans (suing competitors), then it doesn’t look particularly bright; nor does it look innovative…”Techrights had been sceptical of Apple for a long time, even before Apple began attacking Android with patents (there was sabre-rattling even before that, e.g. against Palm). Apple and its nonsensical patents never end. Our sources at the EPO indicate that it’s not different in Europe, but we cannot publicly share any further details on that (in order to protect sources). Watch this article from CNN, published just 6 days ago. “Apple often patents interesting hardware or futuristic iPhone designs that may never see the light of day,” it says. “But in its latest patent granted on Tuesday, Apple (AAPL, Tech30) describes something a little less innovative, and already wildly popular.”
They’re ignoring prior art and also neglecting the fact that software patents are a dying breed. If this is all that Apple has left in its future plans (suing competitors), then it doesn’t look particularly bright; nor does it look innovative…
We look forward to that (potentially second) SCOTUS case which might, due to Apple, spell doom for design patents, which are often similar to software patents (in the GUI sense).
Life Technologies Corp. v Promega Corp.
“We look forward to that (potentially second) SCOTUS case which might, due to Apple, spell doom for design patents, which are often similar to software patents (in the GUI sense).”SCOTUS rulings on patents actually made a lot of headlines this past week, but this did not involve software patents or anything like that. Mayer Brown LLP, for example, wrote about Life Technologies Corp. v Promega Corp. (at SCOTUS) in lawyers’ media. “In an effort to curb efforts to circumvent patent protection,” they said, “the Patent Act imposes liability for infringement on anyone who supplies “all or a substantial portion” of a patented invention’s components from the United States for combination overseas. 35 U.S.C. s 271(f)(1). The Federal Circuit had held that a single component—in this case, of a five-component test kit—could be sufficiently important to a patented invention to constitute “a substantial portion.””
“The Supreme Court has reversed the Federal Circuit in Life Tech v Promega, ruling that manufacture and exportation of a single component of a patented invention assembled in another country is not enough for infringement in the US. However, as a concurring opinion and observers note, the Supreme Court did not indicate how much more than one is enough,” MIP wrote.
“IAM is basically ranting about this ruling because SCOTUS didn’t rule for patent maximalists.”IAM, the lobby of the patent maximalists (disguised as press whilst lobbying/preaching), wrote: “Yet again #SCOTUS left #patent community in the dark on a key part of its latest ruling” (misinformation).
Well, by “patent community” they mean something like “hedge funds of the patent world”, not a community per se. And nobody is really left “in the the dark”; it’s just a dark day for patent maximalists.
IAM is basically ranting about this ruling because SCOTUS didn’t rule for patent maximalists. To quote their blog post about it:
Seven US Supreme Court justices issued their latest patent ruling yesterday in a case that may not have been awaited with the same level of expectancy as next month’s oral arguments in the venue selection case TC Heartland, but which nonetheless showed them sticking to form. As ever with this court it was a case of what wasn’t said as much as what was outlined in the decision.
The case in question, Life Technologies Corp v Promega Corp, involved the supply of a single infringing component manufactured in the US by Life Technologies but then shipped to the UK for assembly. Promega sued citing the Patent Act’s prohibition of the supply from the US of “all or a substantial portion of the components of a patent invention” for combination abroad.
As for Patently-O, it said about Life Technologies Corp. v Promega Corp. that “[i]n a largely-unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court has ruled that the “supply of a single component of a multicomponent invention for manufacture abroad does not give rise to §271(f)(1) liability.””
“Patent maximalism is good for nobody except those who make a living from nothing other than patents (no actual invention, production and so on).”“Writing for the court,” Patently-O added, “Justice Sotomayor found that the “substantial portion” should be seen as a quantitative requirement and that a single component is not sufficient.”
The very fact that sites like IAM are upset about it should say quite clearly that it’s a good and positive development. Patent maximalism is good for nobody except those who make a living from nothing other than patents (no actual invention, production and so on). █
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From search engine with a ‘cute’ face to patent aggressor with a mean face, in less than two decades
Summary: Google has just turned a little more evil, by essentially using patents as a weapon against the competition (by no means a defensive move)
ABOUT 7 years ago I wrote to Google managers whom I knew that they should refrain from hiring patent lawyers, collecting lots of patents, and basically turning the company into a big patent bubble. But this had little effect on the company’s decision; it has since then been taken over by ‘foreign’ (newly-hired) influence.
“We can no longer say what we used to say — that Google was officially using patents only for defensive purposes or in response to a preemptive attack from other companies.”Google, over time, went from being a patent sceptic to gradually becoming a patent collector. Now, as we feared, Google becomes patent aggressor. Google is gradually becoming a patent bully now, even if it calls itself “Alphabet”, and it’s bad even if the defendant is a company that’s pure evil (as in this case). Even IAM took note of it already; it recalled the BT case which we covered here many times before as follows: “The first and really only high-profile patent infringement lawsuit Google has pursued was against BT – and even that was after BT had transferred patents to a third party which had then used them to sue the search giant. Google quickly filed a counter suit against the British telco and the conflict ultimately fizzled out. So, for a Google business to be asserting now is a very big deal indeed.”
There is already a huge trove of news articles about it, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. It’s everywhere. The effect on the competitor was described yesterday as follows:
When Anthony Levandowski loped onto the stage to accept the Hot New Startup award at an industry awards show this month, the trucker hat perched on his head served as a cringeworthy nod to the millions of drivers his self-driving truck company is poised to leave jobless.
Three weeks later, it is the pioneering engineer of self-driving car technology whose job could be in jeopardy, and the lawsuit he is named in could pose an existential threat to an increasingly vulnerable Uber.
We can no longer say what we used to say — that Google was officially using patents only for defensive purposes or in response to a preemptive attack from other companies. Google is turning ever more evil, even when it comes to patents. It’s a very big deal because Google is probably the world’s largest distributor of GNU/Linux (e.g. Android and Chromebooks).
There will, from now on, be less of a track record to guard and thus less of a deterrent against further such actions from Google. Suffice to say, Google has many sofwtare patents now. █
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If it looks like a patent troll, IAM will certainty love it and agonise over the bad reputation of trolls
Summary: Selective coverage and deliberate misinterpretation of Microsoft’s tactics (patent settlement under threat, disguised as “pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products”) as seen in IAM almost every week these days
THERE IS A WAR against GNU/Linux. It’s a very big war. But a lot of it happens in the back room and it is being led by Microsoft, a notoriously corrupt company that still relies on bribes and blackmail for a lot of its deals (we have given many examples in the past).
Yesterday we saw a Microsoft-friendly site writing about the latest attack on Free software from Google. The site called it “Patently Ridiculous” (in the headline) that “Google [is] Ordered To Pay $20 Million Plus,” as we noted here the other day (it’s a notoriously trolls-friendly judge).
“Not all of this officially counts/qualifies as patent revenue (royalties) because Microsoft uses a clever trick now.”“Software patents are usually patents on the obvious wrapped up in as obscure, vague and technical a language as possible,” the site said. “In this case Google has been found guilty of infringing a “sandbox” patent in Chrome.”
That’s a software patent and it was found valid in one of those notorious courts in the Eastern District of Texas, so Google will hopefully appeal. But there is an even broader war going on, some of which involves Microsoft satellites that keep suing Android (or GNU/Linux) device makers. We provided plenty of examples in past years.
“This trick started about a year ago with Acer, not too long after it naturally followed from a lawsuit against Samsung that yielded a settlement 2 years ago (same effect, same consequences).”Microsoft itself is playing this aggressive game also directly, though it learned how to disguise it a little better. It is trying to make billions of dollars by shaking down Android OEMs and Chrome OS OEMs (often the same OEMs — more or less — as these two operating systems overlap one another more and more over time). Not all of this officially counts/qualifies as patent revenue (royalties) because Microsoft uses a clever trick now.
This trick started about a year ago with Acer, not too long after it naturally followed from a lawsuit against Samsung that yielded a settlement 2 years ago (same effect, same consequences). Then came Xiaomi (not only bundling of Microsoft malware but also payments to Microsoft, in the form of patent purchases). This was all along misportrayed by IAM, as we repeatedly showed. Either they are willfully ignorant or maliciously lying about it. Today IAM published another one of these puff pieces. It paints Microsoft as some kind of “good cop”, but what the author of this article conveniently neglects to say (or twists the facts of) is that Microsoft previously blackmailed HTC using software patents (around the same time Apple did so).
Here is how IAM put it:
The Microsoft petition – jointly filed with Taiwan’s HTC – argues that claims 14, 15 and 17 of the ‘695 patent should be invalidated on grounds of obviousness. The petition also notes that the ‘695 patent has been asserted by Philips along with several other patents in a series of infringement cases it filed in the District of Delaware back in December 2015. The seven of these lawsuits that remain active target Acer, Asus and HTC from Taiwan; Double Power Technology and Yifang from China; and US companies Visual Land and Southern Telecom. Microsoft has joined the Acer, Asus, Double Power, Visual Land and Yifang cases as a counter-defendant; it is also involved in the HTC case as an intervenor-plaintiff.
Of the defendants in the Philips lawsuits, we know that Microsoft signed HTC as a patent licensee back in 2010, and that it has revised and expanded existing IP licensing deals with Acer and Asus in recent years. With regards to both the latter, this involved the pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products on the Taiwanese manufacturers’ devices; this has also been a feature of headline patent deals signed with other major Asian companies, including Lenovo and Xiaomi. It may be the case that Microsoft has also offered some form of patent risk mitigation, similar to the aforementioned cloud customer programme, as part of these agreements – though that is just my speculation at this stage, and would be difficult to confirm since the details of such licensing arrangements are typically highly confidential.
Instead of ever acknowledging their mistakes/errors, Team IAM likes to pretend that I did not understand what they wrote. This Microsoft-powered site with many guests from Microsoft embedded in articles is fooling nobody. Microsoft is almost worshiped there and rarely is there even a single sentence critical of the company.
“Just using patents to coerce companies into doing what Microsoft tells them,” I told IAM. “It’s a form of blackmail.” But they keep repeating Microsoft’s talking points every month if not every week. That’s revisionism.
Watch how IAM framed a PTAB IPR petition (as if Microsoft cares for companies it blackmailed): “Microsoft IPR filed against Philips looks like another example of the company’s patent-plus value creation strategy.”
Blackmail with patent threats is not “Value creation”. It’s extortion, it’s blackmail. IAM needs to stop pretending that it’s a news site if trolls are painted as innocent victims and companies that terrify and bully the whole industry get treated like a banality to be ignored if not celebrated.
IAM, like the EPO which turned it into a propaganda mill, is a symptom of many of the things we stand against. The other day it celebrated European patent-based sanctions against Chinese companies (like the aforementioned OEMs from Taiwan or China) and only days ago it promoted patent tax through SEPs, which are inherently not compatible with Free/libre software. To quote:
Avanci was launched last September with Qualcomm, Ericsson, ZTE, KPN, InterDigital and Sony all agreeing to make their standard essential patents that read on 2G, 3G and 4G technology available for license across a range of IoT industry verticals. The first three sectors that Avanci has targeted are the auto industry, connected homes and smart meters. There’s no doubt that Avanci brings together some of the leading plays in wireless technology, but it also has some notable gaps such as Nokia and Huawei. Five months after it launched it is yet to conclude any licensing agreements, although Alfalahi insisted that feedback from the industry and from regulators has been positive and that his team continues to talk to a wide range of licensees and possible members. “We’re not saying that cross-licensing or one-on-one licensing doesn’t work, we just believe there’s a better way and over the last year it has become clear there is a need in the market,” he said.
By making up buzzwords like “IoT” or “4G” companies try to bundle together a bunch of patents that deny entry into the market (via standards) unless entrants pay a very large toll (sometimes more expensive than all the hardware combined). In reality, many of these patents are software patents, i.e. something which isn’t even patent-eligible in the vast majority of countries.
We read IAM not for information but mostly as an exercise in understanding the idealogical opposition; IAM stands for greed, protectionism, and litigation, in lieu with its funding sources (revenue sources are not limited to subscriptions). █
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Google uses IPRs to eliminate everything that’s left of this parasite
Summary: A new example of software patents against Free software, or trolls against companies that are distributing freedom-respecting software from a country where these patents are not even potent (they don’t exist there)
InfoGation Corp. [sic] (corporations typically make things) is not a real company. Maybe it used to actually do something in the distant past, but now it’s just a pile of patents. Their Web site is a one-page stop, the classic troll-themed Web site, referring to “technology” (for so-called ‘licensing’) rather than actual products. Search the Web for the term “InfoGation Corp.” and just about every single result will be about some lawsuit, which is rather telling.
“Search the Web for the term “InfoGation Corp.” and just about every single result will be about some lawsuit, which is rather telling.”Under the “Patent Trolling Archives” section, the Patent Investor described InfoGation Corp. as an “assertion entity” (fancy name for troll), noting that after it had gone after Taiwan’s HTC (the first time we wrote about InfoGation Corp.) it also attacked other Google partners, mostly in China, e.g. ZTE and Huawei. Google stepped in to defend these partners.
Watchtroll is bashing PTAB, essentially by calling the patent holder, InfoGation Corp., “small software developer” (yes, software patents) and saying that those challenging the patents merely “gang up”. This is quite a lot of Watchtroll FUD in quick succession, e.g. after it had published a piece we debunked this morning. We don’t want to start a line-by-line rebuttal; instead we’ll just say that Watchtroll has been grooming this troll for quite some time (it wrote quite a lot about it in the past). It also exploits it for PTAB bashing — an old tradition at Watchtroll. Is PTAB going to trash some more software patents, thus taking InfoGation out of business once and for all? We sure hope so. This would help deter trolls and discourage further litigation such as this. █
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