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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If you don’t pay Microsoft the ‘protection’ fee, then watch out!
Summary: The story of Huawei gets more complicated, even though software patents are losing their teeth and notorious patent trolls are altogether losing their patents
Microsoft has successfully blackmailed all the big Android (and Chrome OS) OEMs except Huawei (whose headcount is almost twice that of Microsoft). Microsoft now attempts to paint patent settlements as "bundling" (the latest trick among more for taxing GNU/Linux and Free software). This does not, however, suggest that Huawei is safe because Microsoft has an army of “punishers” (or trolls), ranging from classic trolls like Intellectual Ventures to companies like Nokia and trolls that Microsoft passes Nokia’s patents to, e.g. MOSAID/Conversant.
Will Huawei bear the brunt of trolls for ‘daring’ to repeatedly refuse to sign a patent settlement with Microsoft (like Xiaomi did)? Ericsson, according to this new blog post from IAM, uses its already-notorious patent trolls (like Microsoft does) to taunt Huawei in the Eastern District of Texas. What we were not aware of, however, is that Nokia too — having become Microsoft’s patent bully after Elop’s infiltration/entryism — goes after Huawei. To quote: “Already embroiled in a standards licensing dispute with competitors Ericsson and Nokia, Huawei now faces battle on a new front after NPE PanOptis sued the Chinese company for alleged infringement of its standard-essential patents (SEPs).”
What we are seeing here is the sort of sordid mess that makes so-called 'smart' phones grossly overpriced and helps Microsoft compete on pricing terms while also extorting the competition (extracting so-called ‘royalties’ from projects and products it contributed absolutely nothing to).
We hope to see Microsoft’s trolling coming to a halt, but with the Linux Foundation being so paralysed by Microsoft cash we doubt a reprieve will ever come from there.
One way out of this mess is the weakening of software patents and perhaps their complete phase-out in the US. MPHJ, one of the world’s most notorious patent trolls, turns out to have just lost its software patents. As Patently-O has just put it:
Scan-to-Email Patent Finally Done; Claim Scope Broadened by Narrow Provisional Application
MPHJ’s patent enforcement campaign helped revive calls for further reform of the patent litigation system. The patentee apparently mailed out thousands of demand letters to both small and large businesses who it suspected of infringing its scan-to-email patents. The primary patent at issue is U.S. Patent No. 8,488,173.
Ricoh, Xerox, and Lexmark successfully petitioned for inter partes review (IPR), and the PTAB concluded that the challenged claims (1–8) are invalid as both anticipated and obvious. On appeal, the Federal Circuit has affirmed.
Nice to see PTAB saving the day again! That’s why we wholeheartedly support PTAB, whose role is still growing this year. █
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Qualcomm still one of the worst companies and most lethal patent aggressors out there…
Summary: OEMs that actually manufacture/sell phones rather than slap a patent fine on them need to (re)group around Apple and help ensure that the patent thicket is removed (or made a lot thinner)
“No One Should Listen to Qualcomm About Patents,” Matt Levy wrote yesterday, having pushed for patent reform for a number of years, striving to improve patent quality at the USPTO and put an end to patent trolling (which would be an outcome of the former, as there’s a direct correlation). To quote Levy:
Why No One Should Listen to Qualcomm About Patents
Qualcomm is a major opponent, perhaps the strongest opponent, of patent litigation reform. It’s becoming pretty obvious why. A few weeks ago, the Korean Fair Trade Commission went after Qualcomm for its anti-competitive licensing practices. This time, it’s the U.S. Federal Trade Commission going after Qualcomm for its licensing practices.
With the FTC complaint, we find a little bit more about Qualcomm’s practices. For example, we learn why requiring companies to take a separate patent license in order to purchase chips is abusive. Normally, the purchase of the chips would be enough without a license, because, under the first sale and patent exhaustion doctrines, a seller automatically gives a license to the purchaser for any of the seller’s relevant patents.
Qualcomm, however, forces its customers to take a separate patent license that entitles Qualcomm to a percentage of the price of the entire device that uses its chips. That is, a smartphone manufacturer has to pay Qualcomm a percentage of the price of the entire phone for each phone sold, in addition to paying for the chips. That’s essentially extortion.
On the other side of the debate we have trolls- and aggressors-friendly sites like IAM, which is actually funded by them. Watch this:
Barnett’s work is particularly timely given the spate of lawsuits that have recently been brought against Qualcomm by, among others, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Apple, over the chipmaker’s FRAND licensing. Those cases frame the argument around a dominant patent owner and technology supplier abusing its position to block out competitors and extract licences from manufacturers.
Qualcomm will no doubt counter with a robust defence; but, as Barnett’s research shows, like many licensors the company is on the wrong side of a set of theories that continue to shape much of the licensing narrative in the US.
So even those whom we expect to be very sympathetic to Qualcomm appear to have lost hope. Florian Müller has meanwhile told me that “one day that U.S. Apple v. Qualcomm case will go to the appeals court and Android OEMs will file pro-Apple amicus briefs” (it’s one rare situation where Apple and Android have a common cause and we believe that, inadvertently, Apple helps Android OEMs too in this case).
“So it sounds as though Apple takes its fight against Qualcomm even further.”Going back to IAM (which seems to believe readers care patent applicants at SIPO, in spite of the appalling patent quality), here is a recent translation/interpretation of reports that are typically published in Mandarin alone. “According to media reports,” IAM says, “Apple lodged two separate complaints against Qualcomm with the Beijing IP Court. One alleges violations of China’s Antimonopoly Law, to the tune of 1 billion yuan ($145 million). The other is a challenge to the chipmaker’s licensing practices, which are described as “unfair and unreasonable”. The new move comes on the heels of a similar suit in the United States by Apple, that itself followed the FTC complaint covered in this blog last week. Qualcomm has dismissed Apple’s actions as a meritless effort to pay less for the technology it uses.”
So it sounds as though Apple takes its fight against Qualcomm even further. This would, once again, be beneficial to Android OEMs, and not just Chinese ones. Remember that some of these Qualcomm patents are software patents.
“Nokia, in spite of returning to Linux and Android, represents a threat to Android OEMs in the patent sense.”At the same time Apple continues fighting back against Nokia, which became very aggressive just before Christmas. See these new reports [1, 2, 3, 4] about the ITC investigating Nokia’s patent claims against Apple. The ITC is not unbiased (typically favours US companies, as one might expect), so we suspect it will favour Apple (US) over Nokia (Finland). Nokia, in spite of returning to Linux and Android, represents a threat to Android OEMs in the patent sense. The same is true for BlackBerry.
In other news about Apple, the “Federal Circuit Invalidates Ameranth’s Menu Software Patents as Unpatentable Abstract Ideas,” so there is growing hope that Qualcomm’s and Nokia’s software patents too will be thrown aside, leaving only patents on physical things. To quote the latest report:
The Federal Circuit’s recent decision in Apple, Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc. highlights the potential impact of characterization of recited features as conventional, routine, generic, or known in the field without further discussion of an innovation that goes beyond these features. Employing the two-step analytical framework of Mayo/Alice to evaluate subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, the Federal Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“Board”) determinations in Covered Business Method (“CBM”) reviews regarding the patentability of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,384,850 (“’850 patent”), 6,871,325 (“’325 patent”), and 6,982,733 (“’733 patent”).
Remember that software patents die 70-80% of the time at the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and PTAB is widely supported/honoured by CAFC.
CAFC, however, will be the subject of our next post. █
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One Watchtroll author showed his professionalism just moments ago (promoting that baseless conspiracy theory about Google and Kushner):
Summary: Shooting the messengers (even wrongly associating yours truly with Google) in an effort to undermine patent reform when it is so desperately needed due to serious injustices
The news about Michelle Lee — truly good news which we mentioned here last night and again this afternoon — has made it into corporate media (e.g. [1, 2]) and more blogs that focus on patents, e.g. Watchtroll citing this latter article to state: “Some are speculating that a meeting between Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Jared Kushner, the influential son-in-law of President-Elect Trump, may be the reason why Lee will be asked to remain as head of the Patent Office.”
Remember that Watchtroll and his swamp like to blame Google for everything (they did some nasty pieces about it), if not insult Lee directly. They want us to believe that patent reform is the fault of Google and that Google is some kind of “pirate”. They would rather see corruption at the top (with rumours about Rader) as long as it serves their agenda. “I would expect significant shake-up in PTO Senior Staff in the coming months,” Patently-O wrote several days ago, but that didn’t quite happen as far as the Director was concerned. To quote:
Recognize that these transitions and traditions are subject to immediate adjustment by the incoming Trump Administration. I would expect significant shake-up in PTO Senior Staff in the coming months: General Counsel, regional PTO Directors, and perhaps Solicitor and PTAB Director. However, every president struggles through how to deal with career federal employees loyal to the efforts of the prior administration.
When we speak about patent corruption we speak about all sorts of things, ranging from nepotism to vastly worse thing. One issue that emerged some days ago in Patently-O was akin to privateering. “The Bayh-Dole Act,” explains this new post, “allows private entities to patent inventions developed through federal funding.”
Sometimes they even sell these to trolls, as we showed here before. “The [James Love-run] KEI filing,” the above notes, “is in the form of a letter to Inspector General of HHS (parent of NIH) asking for an investigation and action.”
For those who are not aware of what’s wrong with the above(not just privateering), basically it’s about enriching someone using public (taxpayers’) money and then letting that same someone get patents and tax the public (taxpayers) yet again. It is an incredibly huge injustice that ought to be tackled by the government. Another new example of privateering-like practices came from IP Watch just yesterday. To quote: “A range of civil society organisations have issued a public statement opposing the United States Army’s proposed grant of an exclusive licence on technology necessary to produce a Zika vaccine to French pharmaceutical company Sanofi. The letter cites concerns that the exclusive licence might violate US law and could lead to high priced medicines as consumers buy back taxpayer-funded research.”
Also see yesterday’s article “Why Patent Protection In The Drug Industry Is Out Of Control” (not exactly what it sounds like).
It sure sounds like more journalists and observers out there are starting to ‘get’ it. All these issues need to be tackled. Blaming “Google” for every bit of patent reform is immature — possibly infantile enough only for Watchtroll to actually do. █
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Picture contributed by a reader in 2008
Summary: The President of Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC (patent troll) leaves and the founder of Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s largest peripheral patent troll, joins Sherpa Technology
TECHRIGHTS has been writing about Microsoft’s patent attacks on GNU/Linux for just over a decade. It was the primary focus of this Web site.
The head of Microsoft’s “IP licensing operation” (i.e. patent extortion), according to this new report, is leaving, only months after Horacio Gutierrez left. As a bit of background IAM says this:
A Microsoft veteran who joined the company back in 1998, Psyhogeos’s most recent position prior to taking over the IP monetisation reins was vice president of OEM licensing, where he held overall responsibility for Microsoft’s licensing and pricing arrangements with its original equipment manufacturer partners worldwide. In November 2013, Psyhogeos was appointed general manager and associate general counsel of IP licensing by then-head of IP Horacio Gutierrez (now general counsel at Spotify) as part of a reshuffle in the wake of chief patent counsel Bart Eppenauer’s move into private practice (which also saw Minhas take over the chief patent counsel role). The following year, Microsoft span patent monetisation activities out into a separate entity, Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC, with Psyhogeos as its president.
When IAM says “patent monetisation” it means patent trolling. IAM is funded by some patent trolls, so it’s inherently biased and always sympathetic towards trolls, not just towards Microsoft (the site is purely Microsoft-based and Microsoft is habitually quoted as an ‘expert’, especially Bart Eppenauer).
“Microsoft officials made it clear that the patent war against Android was still on.”“Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC,” as the above puts it, “with Psyhogeos as its president,” is basically Microsoft’s PURE patent troll, which has engaged in patent blackmail against OEMs that sell ChromeOS (GNU/Linux), Android (Linux), and more…
What does the above mean for Microsoft’s patent troll? We don’t know for sure yet, but even after Gutierrez had left the company Microsoft persisted in patent extortion against Linux. Microsoft officials made it clear that the patent war against Android was still on. It’s just 'dressed up' a little differently (face-saving PR tactics), as we last saw in the Xiaomi settlement.
But wait, there’s more…
“Is Detkin seeing the writings on the wall? What/how about Nathan Myhrvold?”After massive layoffs and financial issues at Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s biggest and most vicious patent troll (which habitually attacks Linux and Android device makers) we now learn that its founder moves on. We mentioned this earlier this week, but MIP has some further details. To quote: “Advisory firm Sherpa Technology Group has appointed Peter Detkin as senior advisor. This coincides with Sherpa Technology Group’s rebrand from 3LP Advisors. Detkin is a founder of Intellectual Ventures and holds more than 40,000 patents. He will remain involved with the company. Before founding Intellectual Ventures, Detkin was a vice-president at Intel Corporation, where he oversaw Intel’s patent, licensing and litigation departments. “We have decided to rebrand ourselves as Sherpa Technology Group to emphasise our role as an experienced guide that enables our clients to reach the peak and achieve their ultimate objectives,” said Ralph Eckardt, managing partner of Sherpa Technology Group.”
The founder of world’s largest patent troll (Microsoft-connected) did not finally leave Intellectual Ventures, but with one foot out one might suppose he is gradually walking out, sort of. It remains to be seen just how much trouble Intellectual Ventures will have now that software patents are collapsing. A few months ago Intellectual Ventures lost a major case at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Quite a few of its software patents got shot down by the judge, who extrapolated and clarified that software patents are a threat to free speech and are therefore in conflict with the pillars of US law. Is Detkin seeing the writings on the wall? What/how about Nathan Myhrvold? █
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When so-called ‘cross-licensing’ with patent purchases (the latest Microsoft method) is actually a disguise/cover for patent settlement after extortion [1, 2, 3, 4]
Summary: The patent lust at IBM, which is suing if not just shaking down companies using software patents, earns plenty of puff pieces from the corporate media
THE notion that the greater the number of patents, the better — a notion so ludicrous that also fails to recognise the raison d’être of patents — is quite a disease. Some people would have us believe that because China created a patents production line in SIPO it's actually at a position of advantage. It’s false and it’s rather infantile to repeat such claims.
One new article, seemingly from an author who is not a fan of software patents (see the short part about it), says today that:
The best ratios I found (i.e., most patents per person) were in very rich Bedford, adjoining Manchester, and almost-as-rich Hollis, adjoining Nashua. Each town had slightly more than 2.7 patents per 1,000 people.
So keep that in mind when you hear people pointing to patent numbers as a reflection of the braininess of a community, state or country or a company or industry. Take it with a grain of salt.
It’s often just a reflection of which companies are based around that area. But some towns take it out of context and equate patents with innovation or wisdom. The above article came just shortly after a heap of IBM puff pieces. IBM, as our readers are probably aware of by now, bets its future and the whole farm — so to speak — on being more like a patent troll (patent enforcement and shakedown). It has already done that to Twitter, a much smaller company, and it keeps doing that to other Internet companies. “IBM scores a record 8,000 patents in 2016,” enthusiastically screams this headline from Dean Takahashi (or his editor), who just repeated the ‘official’ story as follows:
IBM has proven it is once again dominant in earning patents, as it closed the year with 8,088 U.S. patents granted to its investors in 2016. That’s the 24th consecutive year that the company has earned the most patents of any company.
The second-ranked company, Samsung, had 5,518 U.S. patents granted. About 2,700 of IBM’s 2016 patents covered inventions related to artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, and cloud computing. The patents covered a diverse range of technologies that also included cybersecurity and cognitive health.
We have compiled a list of nearly 20 ‘news’ articles [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17] about IBM claiming 8,000 so-called ‘inventions’ in a single year. Almost all these articles are from yesterday and they add no new information; they’re puff pieces void of any analysis. IBM got many of these patents probably by just calling old stuff “cloud” and “AI” (buzzwords). Is “AI” the new “on a machine”? And “cloud” the new “over the Internet”? When it comes to bamboozling patent examiners (so as to be granted software patents) there are all sorts of tricks, many of which boil down to semantics. IBM is nowadays firing a lot of employees, selling large portions of its physical products divisions to China (notably Lenovo). Is this the future of IBM then? Just ‘hiring’ patents, which it already uses to attack and extort far smaller companies? “Samsung Second & Google Fifth In 2016 Patent Race”, an Android news site said yesterday, so IBM isn’t alone among Linux-oriented firms when it comes to the patents gold rush. Samsung and Google, however, are not patent aggressors. Unlike the above IBM puff pieces, a writer in Fortune published “These Firms Won the Most Patents in 2016″ — a list that shows Microsoft falling down quite sharply. As a Microsoft propaganda site puts it, “Microsoft ranked 8th on the list of companies awarded with most patents in the US” (a lot lower than before).
Well, Microsoft is having issues. Software patents are getting more difficult to get, so it is not managing to keep up with patent filings. Financial issues are not helping either. In the coming years we expect IBM to become more and more like a patent troll whose actual products (if not jobs too) sailed away to China. █
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