Read between the lines then…
Summary: Blockstream says that it comes in peace when it comes to software patents, which triggers speculations about coming Blockchain patent wars
THE PAST few years were baffling as companies equated promises not to sue with “Open Source” or “open-source” (with a dash, to help dodge the trademark perhaps). Examples we covered here included, notably, Tesla and Panasonic.
A couple of days ago we saw that Blockstream had claimed the following: “Today we are excited to announce some important steps we are taking on the patent front, why these defensive steps are necessary, and our hope that others will see merit in our approach and follow our lead.
“The system as it stands is inherently hostile towards GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software, which is what Blockchain is all about.”“Core to the Bitcoin ethos is permissionless innovation. Without it and the level of contribution to which it gave rise Blockstream would not be on the exciting path we find ourselves today. It should not come as a surprise then that permissionless innovation is also core to Blockstream’s ethos. We firmly believe that in order for Bitcoin and related technologies’ potential to be fully realized they must be underpinned by a global platform that is free for any innovator to use without hesitation.”
As Benjamin Henrion rightly asked, “where do you have patents? which numbers?” Another person, a patent attorney who specialises in patent data/statistics, noted that “Blockstream Does Not Have Any Patents Assigned to It.” This is not entirely shocking. Having written about Blockstream in the past (we have very broad scope in our daily links), not once did we mention it in relation to patents. Patently German hypothesised: “Preparation for future #blockchain #patent wars? Blockstream announces defensive patent pledge and patent agreement…” (IBM, a patent bully with software patents, is also heavily involved in the same Linux-centric space)
IP Watch, a decent watchdog of patent matters, wrote the headline “Trust Us, We Won’t Sue You” (it sounds rather humourous or sarcastic). It said that “Blockstream, which developed the blockchain technology and bitcoin, has announced a defensive patent strategy. The crux of it: assurance that users of its technology won’t be sued.”
“It seems like shameless self-promotion or a publicity stunt with a “patents” angle.”The EFF wrote about this as follows: “We’ve written many times about the need for comprehensive patent reform to stop innovation-killing trolls. While we continue to push for reform in Congress, there are a number of steps that companies and inventors can take to keep from contributing to the patent troll problem. These steps include pledges and defensive patent licenses. In recent years, companies like Twitter and Tesla have promised not to use their patents offensively. This week, blockchain startup Blockstream joins them with a robust set of commitments over how it uses software patents.”
Bob Summerwill told me [1, 2]: “I see this as hugely positive. Looks directly analogous to what the GPL does for copyrights. Use system against itself.”
Right, but unless Blockstream actually has some patents (there is no evidence of it so far), what can they really use against the system? The system as it stands is inherently hostile towards GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software, which is what Blockchain is all about.
Blockstream’s message is suggestive of unknown context (like something they know but are not telling us). It seems like shameless self-promotion or a publicity stunt with a “patents” angle. We have become accustomed to it. One company that should definitely do the same thing (but has not) is Red Hat. OIN membership does not guarantee this and if Red Hat got sold to some relatively hostile entity (like Sun to Oracle), there is no guarantee that Red Hat’s patents would not be used to wreak havoc (like a $10 billion lawsuit over a programming language alone, i.e. an order of magnitude worse than SCO versus IBM). █
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Hostile environment in which trolls thrive owing to software patents and cashless startups that must settle
Summary: With unconvincing excuses such as OIN, large corporations including IBM continue to promote software patents in the United States, even when public officials and USPTO officials (like Bahr on the left) work towards ending those
SOFTWARE patents remain a very major barrier not just to FOSS developers but to all software development. Such patents, unsurprisingly, are being promoted by monopolists and their facilitators, to whom they’re a major source of revenue. Those monopolists continually rig the whole system in their favour as they can definitely afford it; in fact, it might be considered part of the obligation to shareholders (protectionism through legislation).
The mainstream media or corporate media no longer talks about software patents. Instead it speaks about “patent trolls” and by patent trolls it means the small ones, not the media owners. Apple, for instance, is directly connected to some major media conglomerates, so bias in patent coverage is to be expected in some cases (we wrote about this in past years). Let’s be easily deluded and just ignore Apple demanding billions (not millions) from Android OEMs (patent aggression and sometimes trolling includes big vendors) and also forget Apple’s unique role in Intellectual Ventures (explained here several years ago), the world’s largest patent troll which goes after Android vendors. The article “Apple will pay $25M to patent troll to avoid East Texas trial” is eye-catching and so is “Newegg’s Three-Step Solution to Fighting Patent Trolls” by Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of Consumer Technology Association (CTA). This group likes to focus on patent trolls rather than patent scope. Here is some of the latest from Gary Shapiro:
Lee Cheng is a troll trapper. As chief legal officer for Newegg.com, the second-largest online only retailer in the United States, Cheng has successfully battled the almost three dozen trolls that have attacked his company in the last ten years. And not just fight them, but win.
Patent trolls — sometimes called “non-practicing entities,” or NPEs — don’t actually create any products or services. Instead, they scoop up patents for the express purpose of using them to extort money from real companies large and small that can’t or don’t want to pay high legal defense costs. NPEs focus on settlements and generally have no desire to test their generally poor-quality patents in trial and through appeal. Even bad patents can generate millions in settlement dollars.
A newly-updated Harvard Business School study finds patent trolls sue cash-rich firms “seemingly irrespective of actual patent-infringement” — because that’s where the money is. The Harvard researchers noted trolls are taking a toll on innovation at the firms they target: “After settling with NPEs (or losing to them in court), companies on average reduce their research-and-development (R&D) investment by more than 25 percent.” So instead of funding development of the Next Big Thing in consumer technology, these American small businesses are handing over legalized extortion payments to trolls.
Research estimates that patent trolls drain a prodigious $1.5 billion a week from the economy. I sat down with Lee Cheng to get a from-the-trenches account of the patent troll problem, and to let him share his lessons for taking down the trolls.
“They also rely a great deal on software patenting, as a look at their patent portfolio easily and instantly reveals.”What Gary Shapiro misses here is that patent trolls are often part of a broader shell game played by large corporations such as Microsoft. They also rely a great deal on software patenting, as a look at their patent portfolio easily and instantly reveals. All the focus is now being shifted towards trolls, both in the media and US Congress. Just see this new tweet (“VIDEO: Sen. Jeff Flake Targets Patent Trolls”).
Proskauer Rose LLP, which likes to cherry-pick cases in promotion of software patents, recently released this so-called ‘analysis’. They try to maintain a grip on software patents no matter what. Some large corporations are doing the same thing and it’s not limited to Microsoft. Consider IBM.
IBM’s commitment to Free software, especially now that it pays lobbyists like David Kappos for software patentability, should be seriously doubted. It just likes “Linux”. Manny Schecter, a patent chief at IBM, is an ardent proponent of software patents and he has just linked to “Latest very brief USPTO update to patent examiners on subject matter eligibility in view of recent cases…”
This is a PDF of a new Robert Bahr (Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy) letter regarding the Rapid Litigation case and Sequenom case (both covered here earlier this month). Herein he is alluding to Mayo and Alice as he might try to gently challenge these or begrudgingly adopt what the ‘pesky’ Supreme Court said. Here is a quote from the PDF: “In summary, the USPTO’s current subject matter eligibility guidance and training examples are consistent with the Federal Circuit’s panel decisions in Rapid Litigation Management and Sequenom. Life sciences method claims should continue to be treated in accordance with the USPTO’s subject matter eligibility guidance (most recently updated in May of 2016). Questions should be referred to Technology Center subject matter experts or your SPE.”
Where does IBM stand on the subject? It’s hardly even a mystery. IBM does not like Alice because IBM loves software patents and actively works to expand these to more countries/continents. At the same time IBM brags about OIN as though it magically makes IBM’s patent policies absolutely fine and compatible with FOSS. “I don’t think there is an alternative choice when you are small entity,” told me someone today. “When has OIN actually helped a small company? Even as a deterrent,” I replied. “When your entity is relatively small,” he said, “OIN represents a potential shield to provide you even a minimum of security.”
“Life sciences method claims should continue to be treated in accordance with the USPTO’s subject matter eligibility guidance (most recently updated in May of 2016).”
–Robert BahrBut how in practice can OIN protect one against a troll for example? It cannot. OIN is totally useless against patent trolls. Don’t ever forget that. I saw that firsthand when I was part of E-mail thread I had initiated. Small companies sometimes try taking rivals to court with their patents. If the rival is big enough, then countersuit is massive (IBM has a massive portfolio which virtually every software patents infringes on), defeating the very point of bothering with a lawsuit in the first place. Large companies may use trolls as satellites/proxies, so the lawsuits/countersuits can come from all sorts of mysterious directions.
“Intel and McAfee Sued for Patent Infringement,” writes Patent Buddy this week. Security Profiling LLC (LLCs are usually patent trolls) is suing in the Eastern District of Texas. What can Intel do about it? Nothing. Intel is now trying to sell/offload McAfee, based on last week’s news reports (see our daily links for half a dozen such reports). Has it become too much of a burden perhaps? The point about patent trolls and OIN sticks, no matter what. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has just fallen for the OIN public relations machine, joining the chorus which began with an 'exclusive' puff piece. OIN is not a “Linux” thing as some want it to be widely viewed; it’s mostly an IBM, Sony etc. thing. It helps legitimise software patents rather than acknowledge that they are not compatible with FOSS or Linux and thus need to be ended. █
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Choice of a ‘lesser evil’ still leaves us with evil
Summary: Another reminder of where IBM stands on patent policy and what this means to those who rely on IBM for sheltering of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) or small businesses (SMEs) in a post-Alice era
Large corporations take it all when it comes to patents. Patent trolls are somewhat of a distraction and an obsession, as they help obscure the underlying problem with patent scope, including the existence of software patents. Consider IBM. IBM is itself a patent bully (with history). It uses software patents to attack far smaller companies and lobbies for such patents as well. IBM is opposing patent reform and it is also relying on its lobbyist (and former employee and former USPTO Director) David Kappos to maintain the status quo and abolish Alice as a factor, i.e. to prop up software patents at a time they’re increasingly dying.
“IBM is opposing patent reform and it is also relying on its lobbyist (and former employee and former USPTO Director) David Kappos to maintain the status quo and abolish Alice as a factor, i.e. to prop up software patents at a time they’re increasingly dying.”According to another new article from Fortune, which seems to have found an interest in patents lately, “innovation and entrepreneurship has been on a steady decline for the last 40 years, and the U.S. has ultimately become less competitive as large companies take a greater share of profits in their respective industries, and roughly as many small companies go out of business as start up annually. One particularly telling statistic: Nearly 60% of U.S. employees now work for firms founded before 1980, Kauffman says.” The article is titled “How Licenses and Patent Trolls Are Choking Entrepreneurship in America”. The current policy is basically an SME killer (they’re increasingly being eliminated by patents), whereas large companies don’t seem to mind this. They form conglomerates like OIN which provide them with a collective shield in many cases. Where does antitrust law come into this?
“Don’t be misled,” IBM’s Manny Schecter wrote regarding the above article, “this is about occupational licenses, not patent licenses even tho it is also about patent trolls”
Benjamin Henrion responded to Schecter by saying “patent trolls such as IBM. I had a look at your Prodigy patents complain[t], really insane.”
And right now, based on yet another corporate media puff piece (Bloomberg in this case), it sure looks like the OIN people are greasing up major journalists for puff pieces this week. iophk told us regarding this article: “When will Microsoft put their money where their mouth is and join?”
“Some may be friends of FOSS on the technical side, but when it comes to policy — especially patent policy — they are certainly part of the problem.”Well, when will IBM actually do something to stop the menace of software patents rather than promote these? Red Hat, which itself pursues software patents of its own (we wrote about this before), gets all excited about OIN even if it doesn’t achieve much. Today it wrote about it that “Fortune reports that Toyota has joined the Open Invention Network as a full member, joining IBM, Red Hat, Google and others.”
Unless or until OIN makes its goal also the abolition of software patents, why would the FOSS community have a good reason to embrace it? Look at the main parties behind OIN. Some may be friends of FOSS on the technical side, but when it comes to policy — especially patent policy — they are certainly part of the problem. Toyota itself is very close to Microsoft. █
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Summary: Free/Open Source software (FOSS) continues to be used as a cover for large corporations (like Google, IBM, NEC, Philips and Sony) to maintain a grip on patent pools and act as gatekeepers with software patents that they openwash (not even cross-license, as Oracle v Google serves to illustrate)
WE were never huge fans of OIN, which is why OIN’s CEO and PR people tried hard to convince us otherwise. I saw first-hand accounts where patent trolls were repelled by OIN, which didn’t quite seem to care (maybe because OIN cannot do anything at all about patent trolls, other than attempt to buy/harvest patents before they’re bought to be used offensively). OIN is basically the world’s biggest legitimiser of software patents. IBM, the main company behind OIN (recall its first head of operations, Jerry Rosenthal from IBM), is a patent bully and a notorious software patents proponent, so how can one honestly expect OIN to be part of a true solution? IBM is demonstrably part of many problems.
“IBM is demonstrably part of many problems.”According to this new article from Fortune, joining OIN makes one “a Patron of Open-Source Software” (what a ludicrous headline). To quote from the article: “It’s called the Open Invention Network, and its other members are Google, IBM, Red Hat rht , NEC nec-electronics , Philips phg , Sony sne , and SUSE (a unit of Britain’s Micro Focus). Fortune is the first to report Toyota’s startling move.
“Formed in 2005, OIN’s mission is to protect and encourage the collaborative development and use of open-source software, like the Linux operating system, which can be freely copied, altered, and distributed, and which no one person or company owns. OIN pursues a variety of strategies aimed at protecting the users and developers of such software against the threat of patent suits by proprietary software manufacturers, like Microsoft and Apple. Such suits, if successful, could deny users the freedoms that make open-source software desirable.
“That Toyota would now join the group reflects the growing importance that software is playing in cars, and the growing number of automakers who believe that open-source software is the best approach to providing many of the needed solutions for its vehicles. Open-source champions say such software is cheaper, more flexible, and of higher quality, because it benefits from the pooled resources of collaborative input.”
Toyota, a very close Microsoft partner (probably more so than any other vehicles maker), claims to have joined OIN, but what good will that do for FOSS? Nothing. Toyota is not even a software company. It’s about as relevant to FOSS as that openwashing campaign from Tesla (and later Panasonic). Total nonsense. It’s about as helpful to FOSS as RAND is and speaking of RAND (or FRAND), this new article from IP Watch speaks about FRAND in relation to Europe, where the term FRAND is typically a Trojan horse (or surrogate) for software patents in Europe.
“Toyota, a very close Microsoft partner (probably more so than any other vehicles maker), claims to have joined OIN, but what good will that do for FOSS?”Going back to OIN, it has done virtually nothing so far to protect FOSS. It’s like bogus insurance plan which does not actually work or cover anything (no matter the circumstances). Where is OIN every time Microsoft blackmails Linux/Android OEMs? Speaking of which, Professor Crouch has this new article about insurance based on patents (or copyright, trademark, and trade secret). He says that “Hammond’s insurance company USLI had refused to indemnify Hammond based in-part upon the intellectual property exclusion found in the policy that specifically excluded coverage for any “loss, cost, or expense . . . [a]rising out of any infringement of copyright, patent, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property rights.” Agreeing, the court particularly found that the basis for TCA’s attorney fee requests stemmed from the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act as well as the Copyright Act – even though no intellectual property infringement claim had been asserted in the underlying case.”
Look what we have come to. With misnomers like “intellectual property”, which compare ideas to “property” and ascribe physical attributes to them (like insurance traditionally did, covering for damage caused to physical things), no wonder the media says joining OIN is becoming “a Patron of Open-Source Software” (FOSS inherently rejects the notion of patron or owner, except in the copyright assignment sense).
“Fortune is the first to report Toyota’s startling move,” its author wrote, but in reality Fortune is the media partner to peddle Toyota’s marketing/propaganda, along with OIN’s agenda. █
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Patent aggression by proxy not a novel concept
Summary: A brief update on the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, and IBM, which is becoming one of the largest patent aggressors while spreading its patents around
TECHRIGHTS has given several examples of universities with a lot of patents selling their patents to trolls like Intellectual Ventures. This is a vicious cycle of patent granting and litigation (or legal bullying/extortion). Who benefits here? Remember that many of these patents were granted on the backs of taxpayers. Should these taxpayers then be taxed by vicious patent trolls, using the same patents the public paid for? Intellectual Ventures makes neither products nor patents; it’s just a vulture, an insidious predator. It’s a lot worse than hedge funds.
IAM is still grooming the world’s largest patent troll, the Microsoft-connected Intellectual Ventures, having made it their cover page feature in the latest magazine.
Something called Invention Development Fund, or IDF for short, is acting as an army of occupation with patents right now. To quote IAM (which treats this like a wonderful thing, as usual): “As well as building and monetising one of the largest patent portfolios in the business, another part of the Intellectual Ventures story has been its focus on incubating and spinning out successful start-ups. The number of new companies that IV has helped launched is now approaching 10 thanks to its latest spin out – that of its Invention Development Fund. IV has kept the news fairly low key to this point although it did disclose some details in a blog post last month. Luckily for IPBC delegates, Paul Levins of IDF was on hand on the last panel of the day called ‘Adapt or die’ to give a little more insight into what the newly independent business does. “We were the third fund of IV,” he told the audience. “In the course of the last three weeks we’ve spun out from IV. What we’d describe ourselves as doing is about new invention creation, invention services and product development. It’s a specific class of invention creation targeted at companies interested in doing new things in the marketplace, but who may have previously found appeal in the open innovation space. Many times you quickly discover there’s a lot of pieces missing with open innovation. Companies who work with us have a partner who’s willing to sit beside them and place bets on future technologies. We do that by creating brand new inventions that’ve been outsourced from a very well-curated inventor network. You get open innovation but you still have the benefit of getting IP protection and product development.” The general message seems to be watch this space. We understand a full rebranding of IDF is currently in the works. There should be more details by the end of the summer.”
This isn’t about creating anything but about coercion. Intellectual Ventures already has thousands of satellite firms, usually created for litigation purposes (empty shells with no/little staff), so what’s another one for? This is not about creating innovation/products but all about taxing those who do. Recall what IBM has begun doing amid layoffs and see this very recent article titled “IBM’s Odd New Role: Selling Patents To Silicon Valley”. It says the following: “Alex Lee, head of patent research at EnvisionIP, writes most of the IBM-purchased patents appear to fit into Silicon Valley companies’ defensive strategies. In other words, the California companies aren’t snapping up patents as a way of expanding into new areas that would have been unknowable mysteries to them otherwise. Instead, the patents help the Silicon Valley companies ward off suits by various parties that might otherwise be able to argue about who came up with an idea first.”
This actually overlooks IBM’s aggressive patent strategy, which goes back to its days of litigation against Sun. Perhaps IBM is beginning to realise that its patents aren’t so valuable after all? IBM has been selling quite a few of its business units to China and even outsourced some jobs, such as office suites development, to China. All that’s left now at IBM is a large pile of patents (bigger than anybody else’s).
Another patent bubble explodes/implodes, according to IAM [1, 2], this time in China where there is a desperate ‘monetisation’ effort and patents are equated with all sorts of ludicrous notions.
We have entered a scary time when patents are like aging nuclear weapons or old stockpiles awaiting expiry, so they are being ‘monetised’ (or used) by airdrops and sales to rogue entities. This won’t end nicely. The next few posts will focus on examples of patent trolls. █
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Not your grandfather’s patent system and not your grandfather’s IBM…
Creating virtual wealth. Remember Bill Gates ranting about the patent system when he was younger and Microsoft was a lot smaller. Now he makes billions out of various patents, including Monsanto’s, and he pays virtually no tax.
Summary: Persistent lobbying and a surrender of fast-growing companies to the system which was deformed so as to offer protectionism to the super-rich take their toll and distort the very essence that motivated patent systems in the first place
ACCORDING TO this dubious new chart from IAM, it’s not IBM but Google that supposedly leads based on some patent criteria. This is not a cause for celebration but a cause for alarm as over half a decade ago Google was somewhat of a patents antagonist and I spoke to relatively high-level managers at Google about it. Basically, Google erroneously made the choice to waste time and effort on patenting rather than fight an unjust system that had increasingly ganged up against Google.
In some sense, Google has become greedy and sort of defected. It is now actively pursuing patents on software (including patents on driving — something for which I developed an Android app with help from someone who worked at Google) and no wonder Google does nothing against software patents anymore. That would be hypocritical.
Now, the usual defense (not just from Google) might be that Google never attacks using patents unless attacked first, but then again, that’s just what happens in companies when they’re on the way up (ascent). As things begin to turn sour/bitter, as is already the case at IBM, the non-technical managers are turning aggressive and even attacking with any software patents at their disposal. They see patent aggression as a sort of ‘insurance policy’ or a Plan B. Microsoft, as we noted in our previous post, only began doing this a decade ago (to present), around the same time of Windows Vista and the Novell deal.
“If Google starts to nosedive (no company lasts forever, not even with government subsidies) sooner than the expiry (lifetime) of these patents, then there’s potential of selling/auctioning patents to patent trolls or attacking directly, as infamously IBM does.”Manny Schecter, who is in charge of patents at IBM, does not hide the company’s real intentions, lobbying for software patents, and even the lobbyists (people like David Kappos, who came from IBM). He’s quite reckless from a marketing point of view. “We should neither deny that the patent system promotes innovation overall and that abuse of it should be properly curbed,” he wrote the other day at Twitter. What about the patent abuse by IBM (Schecter’s department), which uses software patents against small companies? What does that tell us about OIN?
The FFII’s President responded to Schecter with “”promotes innovation” should be replaced by “promotes litigation”. Innovation cannot exist without any quantification.” As I put it across to both, the patent system was created to incentivise dissemination (publication), not to provide a litigation sledgehammer for billionaires to whack inventors.
Sadly, Google is now part of this whole ‘patent cartel’, as one might be tempted to call it. Google is not aggressive (at least not yet), but time will tell what happens with these patents. If Google starts to nosedive (no company lasts forever, not even with government subsidies) sooner than the expiry (lifetime) of these patents, then there’s potential of selling/auctioning patents to patent trolls or attacking directly, as infamously IBM does. █
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This increasingly globalised system is not for the “small guy”
Summary: Multinational corporations bring together their shared interests and steer the increasingly-inseparable patent systems according to their needs and goals, but has anyone even noticed?
For anyone who still thinks that patents are designed to protect the small guy/gal and/or his/her small company/ies… well, maybe this was true a long time ago. The USPTO moved in a bad direction quite some time ago and the EPO, led by Battistelli and his goons, trots in the same direction, notably (but not only) with the UPC. People’s rights and people’s wealth are under constant attack so that corporations’ power and wealth can increase and make way to greater dominance in an increasingly globalised world (overcoming environmental regulations, bypassing minimum wage laws, diminishing working conditions and so on). Just see what I.S.D.S. is all about when assessing the real motivation of TPP or TTIP (not just the forces behind them, those who prefer secrecy due to fear of public reaction). It’s class war, that’s what it boils down to.
Earlier this month and a month ago we wrote about Creative’s attempt to ban a lot of Android devices (at import level). TechDirt finally wrote about it just before the weekend:
It wasn’t enough that Creative Labs/Creative Technology spent March 24th suing almost every big name in the cell phone business for patent infringement. These lawsuits, all filed in the East Texas patent troll playground, asserted the same thing: that any smartphone containing a music app (which is every smartphone produced) violates the patent it was granted in 2005 to use in conjunction with its mp3 players. “Venue is proper” because smartphones are sold in Texas, even if the plaintiffs are located in California and Singapore, respectively.
That wasn’t all Creative Technology did. It also filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission seeking to block the import of smartphones from manufacturers like Sony, LG, BlackBerry, Samsung, etc. under the theory that every imported phone contains patent-infringing software. The ITC has opened an investigation of Creative’s allegations, which will at least hold off any potential import blocks until it reaches a decision. The ITC’s summary of Creative’s patent claims clearly shows how broad the patent’s potential coverage is — and (inadvertently) why it should be invalidated.
Google has decided it’s not going to wait around for the ITC or east Texas courts to come to the wrong conclusions. It’s gone on the offensive, seeking declaratory judgment that it does not violate Creative’s broad patent. Every company sued by Creative on March 24th sells Android phones that contain Google’s “Play Music” app. On behalf of its customers (and its own Motorola Mobility, which was also sued), Google wants Creative’s BS patent’s power neutered.
We already remarked on Creative’s real ‘business’ at present. This isn’t a case of David v. Goliath but more like Troll v. Google. This troll has an old brand and recognised name (in technology circles), so it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening here. MPEG-LA operates similarly on behalf of giants like Microsoft and Apple.
“This troll has an old brand and recognised name (in technology circles), so it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening here.”Incidentally, and probably without direct correlation to the above, some days ago the patent lawyers’ sites began floating ‘news’ about IP3 (new name, not a new thing), e.g. [1, 2]. The latter said: “This blog recently covered Google’s Patent Purchase Program, here and here. Google basically offered to consider purchasing submitted patents. The Program is back, but this time expanded with a new group of players under the title, “IP3 by Allied Security Trust.”
We wrote about this before, but it has just been expanded and rebranded (or renamed, to put it more politely). Here is what IAM (patent maximalist) wrote: “In many ways IP3, the new patent selling platform backed by the likes of Google, Apple, Ford, Microsoft and IBM that was announced on Wednesday, is a product of its time. It’s hard to imagine, say five years ago, Google and Apple jumping into bed together on anything patent-related – or for companies in very different industries pooling resources in the way they have for IP3. But today is different: with the smartphone wars almost at an end and everyone talking about convergence, IP3 reflects the more cooperative, partnership-based approach to IP strategy that a growing number of operating companies insist is their new ethos.”
“They just want more mega-corporations to coalesce and use their collective power for protectionism and a sort of cross-licensing with extra edge (battling small plaintiffs which target the well-funded cabal).”Notice the size of the backers and mind who they target with IP3. Is this the fairy tale which the patent systems’ biggest proponents try to tell us about when they defend further scope expansion and sharp increases in the number of patents? As if the more patents we have, the more ‘lone inventors’ are ‘protected’? Consider the cost of application, renewal, litigation, etc. It’s very prohibitive. Here goes IAM again, in its initial report about this: “A group of major patent-owning companies – Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Ford, Cisco and Facebook among them – have banded together to form the Industry Patent Purchase Program – or IP3 – providing patent owners with a streamlined way of selling their IP. The new initiative has been developed in conjunction with AST which will play the central role in administering the project. In effect it is the second iteration of Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion, which the search giant launched last summer and which saw it buy up a number of patents in a price range of $3,000 to $250,000.”
Can I join too? I have no patents, but I too would like this special/magical ‘protection’. The press release about IP3 is a big load of nonsense which is “Calling All Patent Owners”, so people like myself are obviously excluded. They just want more mega-corporations to coalesce and use their collective power for protectionism and a sort of cross-licensing with extra edge (battling small plaintiffs which target the well-funded cabal). What kind of arsenals are they pooling together?
“What all the above stories have in common is that they show patent empowerment by large corporations, their consortia, their trolls (or ‘pools’ like MPEG-LA) and at whose expense?”Speaking of Google, which is the key company in IP3, see the new article “Tech and Auto Firms Join Google-Led Patent Purchase Program” and recall what we recently wrote about the hoard of software patents on driving (not a new concept). Watch how Google is now stockpiling driving patents, as reported last week by dozens of publications, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4] (very limited list as an exhaustive one would be vast).
Google, unlike IBM, never suffered massive layoffs (not yet anyway), but would it become a patent aggressor like IBM recently became (using software patents)? Every company collapses sooner or later. No company exists for an eternity. See what happened to Nokia‘s mobile patents (Microsoft instructed Nokia to give these to Google-hostile trolls).
“This is highly regressive and it corrodes the spirit of the so-called ‘intellectual property’ system we are told to respect.”Dr. Glyn Moody has this new article about a patent we mentioned the other day. It shows just how far IBM’s patent lust has gone. To quote Moody: “Stories about copying turn up a lot on Techdirt. That’s largely as a consequence of two factors. First, because the Internet is a copying machine — it works by repeatedly copying bits as they move around the globe — and the more it permeates today’s world, the more it places copying at the heart of modern life. Secondly, it’s because the copyright industries hate unauthorized copies of material — which explains why they have come to hate the Internet. It also explains why they spend so much of their time lobbying for ever-more punitive laws to stop that copying. And even though they have been successful in bringing in highly-damaging laws — of which the DMCA is probably the most pernicious — they have failed to stop the unauthorized copies. [...] We’ve already seen Microsoft’s Protected Media Path for video, a “feature” that was introduced with Windows Vista; it’s easy to imagine something a little more active that matches the material you want to view or listen to against a database of permissions before displaying or playing it. And how about a keyboard that checks text as you type it for possible copyright infringements and for URLs that have been blocked by copyright holders? There is a popular belief that the computer in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” was named “HAL” after IBM, by replacing each letter in the company name with its predecessor. That’s apocryphal, but with this latest patent application IBM is certainly moving squarely into HAL territory. ”
Yeah, some ‘innovation’…
And we all surely benefit, right?
From patent aggressor IBM, according to this new IAM report, a notorious character moved to Rovi (another patent aggressor) and now he lands inside HEVC Advance, which is a patent troll [1, 2] (IAM dares not say this term, so it would say only “PAE” or “pool”). Remember who is behind HEVC Advance. No ‘lone inventors’ at all. To quote IAM: “Technicolor – previously known as Thomson – has long been a leading media and entertainment business with a strong R&D focus, and has one of Europe’s biggest technology and patent licensing operations – first developed under the leadership of IP Hall of Famer Béatrix de Russé. In 2013, Boris Teksler was brought in to lead the company’s technology operation, with a remit that included IP; and when Teksler departed in June 2015 he was replaced by Stéphane Rougeot, who has now also left the company. As if that was not enough, for much of 2014 and early 2015, the Technicolor board was involved in a bitter dispute about the company’s future direction with shareholder Vector Capital. That has now been settled.”
What all the above stories have in common is that they show patent empowerment by large corporations, their consortia, their trolls (or ‘pools’ like MPEG-LA) and at whose expense? The same mythical character which the patent system was presumably created to protect. This is highly regressive and it corrodes the spirit of the so-called ‘intellectual property’ system we are told to respect. █
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Publicado en GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 11:17 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Las patentes de software atacan de nuevo
“La creencia no es sustitúto de la aritmética.”
Sumario: Batállas legales que largamente envuelven a Android (y por extensión Linux) son notados en los medios esta semana porque hay una solicitud para su prohibición (interdicto)
Hay una creciénte tendencia en economías que están yendo para abajo porque crecimiénto infinito es imposible y los monopolistas luchan para compensar sus pérdidas y sobreponérse a nuevas fronteras. A las compañías que alguna vez produciéron productos asombrósos no les queda nada pero patentes, así que recurren a chantáje de patentes y tratan de escurrir a otras compañías de sus ganancias. Observen como, en medio de grandes despidos, IBM esta atacándo compañías legítimas usando patentes de software en estos días, ganándose títulos como “el Más Grande Troll de Patentes del Mundo”. IBM se considera una victicma y dijo: “IBM, una reliquia de las firmas tecnológicas del siglo 20, ha recurrido a usurpar la propiedad intelectual de las compañías nacidas este milenio.” ¿Puede alguién confíar IBM con la OIN más? IBM no es un aliado creíble, es un animal encorralado asustado de no emplear un medio millón de personas como solía. ‘Pobrecito’ IBM…
No sólo compañíás que pretendes ser todo por Linux hacen esto. Una de estas compañíás es Creative, de la que hablamos el otro dia. Como un nuevo artículo lo puso, “Creative se levanta de los muertos para tratar de destruir a Android” y para citar:
¿Recuerdas Creative? En la década de 2000, la empresa tuvo su gran periodo, ya que sus reproductores de MP3 Zen fueron los anti-sistema alternativo al iPod. En estos días, la empresa con sede en Singapur en su mayoría hace auriculares para juegos y altavoces de la computadora – nada que ver con los teléfonos inteligentes, en otras palabras. Pero gracias a una denuncia presentada en contra de todos los fabricantes de teléfonos Android grande, Creative ha declarado la guerra a Android en silencio.
La queja presentada contra un quién es quién de los teléfonos inteligentes Android: Samsung, LG, HTC, Blackberry, Sony, ZTE, Lenovo y Motorola. El tema en cuestión es reproductores de música: todos los teléfonos tienen ellos, y Creative tiene una patente que piensa está siendo violada. En concreto, todos los teléfonos son capaces de “reproducción de archivos multimedia almacenados seleccionados por un usuario desde una visualización jerárquica.”
Android Police escribió que “Creative Quiere Prohibir a la Mayoría de Telefonos Android Phones de los EE.UU por una Supuesta Infracción de Patentes” y para citar unos párrafos:
Creative no es un nombre que se oye tan a menudo en la electrónica de consumo en estos días. La firma con sede en Singapur es conocida por la fabricación de productos de audio, incluyendo la línea de Zen de reproductores multimedia. Creative ha presentado una queja ante la Comisión Internacional de Comercio (ITC), alegando que, básicamente, todos los fabricantes de teléfonos Android está infringiendo sus patentes de Zen al mostrar su música. Se quiere que todos sean prohibidos, pero lo que realmente quiere es el dinero.
La queja se dirige a ZTE, Sony, Samsung, LG, Lenovo, Motorola, HTC y BlackBerry. La cuestión es cómo todo el mundo ve a las canciones y álbumes en un sistema de menú jerárquico muestra, que dice que es un invento suyo. Se fue detrás de Apple por lo mismo hace una década y, finalmente, consiguió un acuerdo de $ 100 millones. Si el CCI está de acuerdo con Creative, que podría conducir a la prohibición de dispositivos infractores, lo que sería una gran cantidad de teléfonos.
Ahora recuérden a Microsoft, un ¿ socio de Creative? No hay un cese al fuego a su chantaje de patentes como reporto hace poco. La parte de Google en Motorola teléfonos móviles viene a la mente, vean este nuevo reportaje que demuestra que Microsoft todavía esta atacándo a Linux/Android con patentes de software (mientras al mismo tiempo afirma “amar a Linux). Para citar a Reuters (reporte corto): “La patente de Microsoft Corp en camino para mostra que un web brows todavíá esta subiéndo contenido no es inválida, una corte de apelaciónes de los EE.UU dijo este Martes en vista del desafío de Motorola Mobility y Google Inc.
“Un panel de tres jueces de la Corte de Apelaciones de EE.UU. para el Circuito Federal falló a favor de Microsoft y sus abogados Klarquist Sparkman, la afirmación de un fallo de la Patente de EE.UU. Oficina de Marcas y que se negó a cancelar una parte clave de la patente. El panel no se dio por razones de su decisión, que se produjo dos días después de los argumentos orales en el caso.”
Por lo que Microsoft está todavía acosándo a Motorola y Google (es decir, Android) y al mismo tiempo dice que “ama a Linux”. Tiene sentido, ¿verdad? Mandatos no sólo buscados por Creative (recurrir a la ITC como lo hizo Microsoft hace cerca de una década con el fin de bloquear un rival al este de Asia); Es probable que sólo estrategia de crecimiento en Estados Unidos, a juzgar por estos nuevos artículos escritos por bufetes de abogados de Canadá y Brasil [1, 2] para ser incluído en IAM principios de esta semana.
“ITC investigará a Samsung y Sony por reclamos de patentes” dice otro nuevo titular. ¿Quién se beneficia de esto? Para citar:
La Comisión de Comercio Internacional (ITC ) ha dicho que va a iniciar una investigación sobre fabricantes de teléfonos inteligentes como Sony, Samsung, ZTE y LG por la presunta violación de patentes.
En un comunicado en su página web, la ITC dijo que su investigación se centraría en “dispositivos electrónicos portátiles con la capacidad de reproducir archivos multimedia almacenados”.
Lenovo, Motorola, HTC y BlackBerry pueden destinarse también en la investigación.
La investigación de la sección 337 se basa en una denuncia presentada por Creative Technology con sede en Singapur y Creative Labs, con sede en Milpitas, California, en Marzo.
Creative solía ser amable en la década de 1990, pero ahora es notoria por su acoso a Linux (hay conexiones con Microsoft e Intel). Además de esta controvertida medida de Creative nos hemos enterado que el propio troll de patentes de Ericsson que todavía está activo en el Reino Unido y al parecer permanecera en la Corte de Patentes del Reino Unido en lugar de la Corte de Apelación Competitiva , basado en el informe de ayer, que dice: “Para cualquier persona se mantenga al tanto, la disputa de patentes de mamut en Unwired Planet v Huawei y Samsung continúa a lo largo de un trueno a paso. La última decisión del Tribunal de Patentes de la saga abordó la cuestión de si los problemas de competencia – posiblemente la parte más jugosa del caso – podrían ser transferidos a la Competencia Appeal Tribunal (CAT)? A finales de abril, el Sr. Justicia Birss respondió a esta cuestión, la decisión de que las cuestiones deben permanecer en la División de la Cancillería  EWHC 958 (Pat).”
Permanecemos completamente comprometidos con el rastreo meticulóso de estas amenazas al Free software, incluyendo Android, ya que las patentes de software no son compatibles con el Free software como Linux. Cuando estas patentes comienza a sobrepasar las fronteras Europeas nos damos cuenta que la enfermedad se esta esparciéndo en vez de ser contenida (e.g. debido a Alice en los EE.UU). Hay mucho en riesto.
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