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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Software patents strike again
“Belief is no substitute for arithmetic.”
Summary: Legal battles which primarily involve Android (and by extension Linux) are noted by the media this week because there is a request for bans (injunction)
THERE is a growing trend in downturn economies because infinite growth is impossible and monopolists strive to make up for losses by overstepping new boundaries. Companies that once produced awesome products have nothing left but patents, so they resort to patent shakedowns and try to claw in other companies’ revenue. Watch how, amid massive layoffs, IBM is attacking legitimate companies using software patents these days, earning itself labels like "the World's Biggest Patent Troll". IBM’s victim said: “IBM, a relic of once-great 20th century technology firms, has now resorted to usurping the intellectual property of companies born this millennium.” Can anyone trust IBM with OIN anymore? IBM is not a credible ally, it’s a cornered animal afraid of not employing like half a million people anymore. ‘Poor’ IBM…
Not only companies which pretend to be all about Linux do this. One such company is Creative, which we wrote about the other day. As one new article put it, “Creative rises from the dead to try and destroy Android” and to quote:
Do you remember Creative? In the early 2000s, the company had a brief period of being cool, as its Zen MP3 players were the anti-establishment alternative to the iPod. These days, the Singapore-based company mostly makes gaming headsets and computer speakers — nothing to do with smartphones, in other words. But thanks to a complaint filed against every big Android phone manufacturer, Creative has quietly declared war on Android.
The complaint is filed against a who’s-who of Android smartphones: Samsung, LG, HTC, BlackBerry, Sony, ZTE, Lenovo and Motorola. The issue at hand is music players: all the phones have ’em, and Creative has a patent it thinks is being infringed on. Specifically, all the phones are capable of “playing stored media files selected by a user from a hierarchical display.”
Android Police wrote that “Creative Wants To Ban Most Android Phones From US Over Alleged Patent Infringement” and to quote some paragraphs:
Creative is not a name you hear as often in consumer electronics these days. The Singapore-based firm is known for making audio products, including the Zen line of media players. Creative has filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that basically every maker of Android phones is infringing its Zen patents by displaying your music. It wants them all banned, but what it really wants is money.
The complaint targets ZTE, Sony, Samsung, LG, Lenovo, Motorola, HTC, and BlackBerry. At issue is how everyone shows you songs and albums in a hierarchical menu system, which Creative says it invented. It went after Apple for the same thing a decade ago and eventually got a $100 million settlement. If the ITC agrees with Creative, it could lead to a ban on infringing devices, which would be a lot of phones.
Now, remember Microsoft, a partner of Creative? There is definitely no patent ceasefire as publicly claimed some months ago. Google’s stake in Motorola’s mobile business in mind, see this new report which shows that Microsoft is still attacking Linux/Android with software patents (while claiming to “love Linux). To quote Reuters (short report): “Microsoft Corp’s patent on a way to show that a web browser is still loading content is not invalid, a U.S. appeals court said on Tuesday in the face of a challenge by Motorola Mobility and Google Inc.
“A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found in favor of Microsoft and its Klarquist Sparkman attorneys, affirming a ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that refused to cancel a key part of the patent. The panel did not give reasons for its decision, which came just two days after oral arguments in the case.”
So Microsoft is still going after Motorola Mobility and Google (i.e. Android) and it says it “loves Linux”. Makes sense, right? Injunctions were sought not only by Creative (resorting to the ITC as Microsoft did nearby a decade ago in order to block an east Asian rival); it’s probably just growing strategy in America, judging by these new articles authored by law firms from Canada and Brazil [1, 2] to be pinned at IAM earlier this week.
“ITC to investigate Samsung and Sony over patent claims” says another new headline. Who benefits from this? To quote:
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has said it will launch an investigation into smartphone makers including Sony, Samsung, ZTE and LG over alleged patent infringement.
In a statement on its website, the ITC said its investigation would centre on “portable electronic devices with the capability of playing stored media files”.
Lenovo, Motorola, HTC and BlackBerry will also be targeted in the investigation.
The section 337 investigation is based on a complaint filed by Singapore-based Creative Technology and Creative Labs, based in Milpitas, California, in March.
Creative used to be OK in the 1990s, but it’s now notorious for its poor treatment of Linux (there are Microsoft and Intel connections). In addition to this controversial move from Creative we have also just learned about Ericsson's own patent troll that is still active in the UK and will apparently stay in the UK Patents Court rather than the Competition Appeal Tribunal, based on yesterday’s report which says: “For anyone keeping tabs, the mammoth patent dispute in Unwired Planet v Huawei & Samsung continues to thunder along at pace. The latest decision from the Patents Court in the saga addressed the question as to whether the antitrust issues – arguably the juiciest part of the case – could be transferred to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT)? At the end of April, Mr Justice Birss answered that question, deciding that the issues should remain in the Chancery Division  EWHC 958 (Pat).”
We remain committed to meticulous tracking of these threats to Free software, including Android, as software patents are inherently not compatible with Free software such as Linux. When such patents start to overstep the European border we just know that this disease keeps spreading rather than contained (e.g. owing to Alice in the US). There is so much at stake. █
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When products aren’t selling those who have amassed patents weaponise them and tax the rivals’ products
Photo source (modified slightly): The 10 Most Powerful Women in Technology Today
Summary: Groupon, which has come under a software patents attack from IBM, strikes back and spin sites like IAM keep denying that the term “patent trolls” means anything at all
EARLIER this year we chastised IBM for attacking companies using software patents. What became mainstream news today is “Groupon counters IBM over software patents.” We found many articles about it this morning [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and they indicate that IBM’s victims are fighting back. IBM’s ‘blowback’, so to speak, did not sink the stock or anything like this [1, 2], but surely this will generate negative press for IBM.
“We don’t call IBM a “patent troll”, but some pundits do (John Dvorak for instance called them the biggest patent troll).”When thugs like IBM attack using software patents (whilst actively lobbying for them) they essentially put pressure on other companies, including those not enamoured with/fond of patents, to file for ‘defensive’ patents, perpetuating the problem. Now that IBM is openly attacking legitimate companies using such patents (and surely extorts others) one can hope that IBM will go bankrupt fast, or alternatively appoint a new CEO who doesn’t choose to be a bully. Some pundits now call IBM a "patent troll", which definitely harms IBM’s reputation and ruins the brand.
If anyone among our readers chooses to cancel a contract with IBM (one probably should) or refuse/reject their marketing people, tell them it’s due to patent aggression as this can definitely help change their policy. Looking for someone to blame for IBM going rogue, lobbying for software patents and attacking legitimate companies using software patents? Blame Manny Schecter as well, not just the CEO. He’s the company’s patent chief and he has been rather outspoken as of late against any nation which rejects software patents.
We don’t call IBM a “patent troll”, but some pundits do (John Dvorak for instance called them the biggest patent). Some also call Yahoo a potential “patent troll”, so IAM — partly funded by patent trolls — attacks them. To quote IAM: “While we wait to see how potential acquirers value the IP, some in Silicon Valley are getting worked up about just what might happen to those patents. Last week the well-known tech journalist and author Steven Levy published a piece on his Backchannel blog which asked, “Will Yahoo become a patent troll?””
“Microsoft even has a standalone patent troll entity called “Microsoft Licensing”, putting aside all sorts of satellites and other patent trolls is uses to blackmail rivals.”It’s not news that IAM is a trolls denialist. To quote the concluding paragraph: “There will no doubt be many more column inches – on this blog and elsewhere – written on the Yahoo sale before it reaches its conclusion. Hopefully it will give members of the patent and investor communities an opportunity to discuss just how a public company – failed or otherwise – should properly value its intangible assets particularly in the current climate. But please, whatever happens, lets leave the troll moniker out of it.”
As we have seen in the case of Nokia after Microsoft had hijacked it, Nokia patents could be passed to patent trolls who later also paid IAM (literally, the same troll in the case of MOSAID). In today’s IAM output one can also see/learn that it has “been widely reported in Chinese-language (and, increasingly, English-language) media over the past few days that Huawei may be receiving hundreds of millions of US dollars in patent licensing fees from Apple.” Given what Nokia has done to Apple and what Apple has done (and is still doing) to many Linux-centric companies, it’s hard to find any sympathy for any of these companies. They put patents before products as time goes on and sales of actual product are harder to make (Apple has suffered a significant decline recently). While we never called companies like IBM, Yahoo, Nokia or Apple “trolls”, some people do call them that and to a certain degree it’s indeed trolling given how they position themselves. Microsoft even has a standalone patent troll entity called “Microsoft Licensing”, putting aside all sorts of satellites and other patent trolls is uses to blackmail rivals. █
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The ‘Microsoft syndrome’ strikes or spreads to IBM, its cross-licensing buddy
Photo source (modified slightly): The 10 Most Powerful Women in Technology Today
Summary: Deservedly if not belatedly too, more and more pundits come to recognise the rogue element which is IBM, having promoted software patents all around the world, utilised software patents aggressively (to attack/marginalise/tax rivals), lobbied the government to antagonise the Supreme Court’s decision on Alice (using former IBM staff which it had somehow snuck into the USPTO), created bogus solutions to the side effects (such as patent trolls) and so on
“Patent Trolls have already begun to try & discredit the FTC PAE Report & it’s not even been released yet,” Anti-Software Patents wrote earlier this week. All this while the software patents lobby trash-talks SCOTUS (and one particular Associate Justice in particular), PTAB, an Australian report against software patents etc. As we showed here in recent days, IBM played a major role in this lobby. Are they thugs or trolls? Or both maybe?
“Patent Trolls have already begun to try & discredit the FTC PAE Report & it’s not even been released yet”
–Anonymous“PTABWatch”, a blog of patent lawyers (Marshall Gerstein & Borun LLP) now evokes David Kappos again (his lobbying is now funded by massive patent aggressors including Apple, IBM, Microsoft etc. but he came from IBM) and to quote the relevant portion: “In a recent speech at a Federal Circuit Judicial Conference, David Kappos, former Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, suggested § 101 should be abolished because recent case law in this area has resulted in “a real mess.” Like many practitioners, Mr. Kappos reiterated that courts can ensure basic concepts are not patented while protecting innovation by applying other areas of patent law to make sure patents are novel and non-obvious. Consistent with Mr. Kappos’s criticisms of the developing case law on § 101, Sequenom recently has sought the Supreme Court’s review of the Federal Circuit’s application of § 101 in the Ariosa decision, and many companies and industry organizations have filed amicus briefs supporting Sequenom. What will happen remains to be seen, but there is a growing and significant consensus (among practitioners at least) that something needs to be done at a higher level to clean up this “real mess.” Until such time, this blog will keep a close watch on the developments of decisions relating to §101 in IPRs and how patent eligibility is being viewed at the PTAB and the courts.”
It should be clear that the same forces which lobby for software patents often, unsurprisingly, oppose patent reform. Pieter Hintjens, who has not much time left to live, reminisces: “well, they were just lying. IBM was the one that broke the US patent system to allow software patents.”
“IBM was the one that broke the US patent system to allow software patents.”
–Pieter Hintjens“IBM says software patents drive OSS development,” he recalls (from a 2009 article). We never forgot that.
Now that IBM openly attacks companies using software patents John C. Dvorak publishes the article “IBM Is the World’s Biggest Patent Troll” in which he says:
IBM’s real value is with the R&D folks who have helped IBM top the list of companies with the largest number of US patents granted year after year. This has never stopped growing. Last year it was 7,355 patents granted for IBM (followed by 5,072 for Samsung and 4,134 for Canon, with a big drop-off after that to Qualcomm with 2,900 and Google with 2,835).
The patent system is out of control since many of these patents are idiotic software algorithm or blocking patents, designed to keep others away from certain technologies. The point, though, is that IBM has been leading this pack for over two decades and shows no signs of slowing down. That is unless you think 7,355 is slowing down from its 2014 tally of 7,534 patents. In 2013, it secured a mere 6,809.
These numbers are outrageous when you stop to consider that patents were intended to protect small inventors and companies. Now the system is used to dominate that small fry. Good work, USPTO.
Many of IBM’s current patents are about data analytics and so-called cognitive computing, like Watson. It in turn collects “over” a billion dollars a year from licensing, which sounds low to me. I say this because on its licensing page, IBM claims to have 250,000 experts who will work with you to find the right patents for your company.
Those experts likely generate at least $100,000 in business each every year, which I think is conservative. You do the math and that’s $25 billion. This makes sense when the company claims to drop $6 billion into R&D each year. In fact, it would not surprise me if most of its revenues were from licensing, and far more than $25 billion. IBM’s overall revenues are around $82 billion.
With puff pieces like this new one about IBM, no wonder few people care to have noticed what IBM recently turned into (amid layoffs).
“Just last week, the Federal Circuit declined to fix this problem, leaving it up to Congress or the Supreme Court to act.”
–EFFPatent trolling is a very serious problem in the US and CAFC, which brought software patents to the US, refuses to stop these trolls [1, 2]. The trolls typically use software patents. Here is an MIP report about it and here is the EFF expressing frustration over it: “As the law stands now, patent owners have almost complete control over which federal district to file a case in. That’s a major problem. It lets patent owners exploit significant differences between courts, an advantage that the alleged infringers in patent suits don’t have. It effectively leads to outcomes being determined not by the merits of a case, but rather by the cost of litigation. Just last week, the Federal Circuit declined to fix this problem, leaving it up to Congress or the Supreme Court to act.”
“Mossoff just can’t help attacking the messenger for trying to stop patent trolls.”Trolls’ apologists aren’t idle either right now. Consider Adam Mossoff, who works for some kind of patent maximalism think tank (“The Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property at Mason Law promotes the scholarly analysis of IP rights and the creative innovation they make possible,” by its own description), so it’s not too shocking that he keeps protecting patent trolls, attacks their critics, and now picks on the EFF. Mossoff just can’t help attacking the messenger for trying to stop patent trolls. This isn’t a new thing from him.
“How to Kill a Patent Troll” is a new article which speaks about what patent trolls are and then promotes the IBM-connected RPX as the solution. It’s not the solution at all. To quote portions from this article:
Anecdotally, NPEs are trolls. But Cohen, Gurun, and Kominers wanted some hard proof. For that, they turned to data from RPX Corporation, which maintains a database on NPE litigation going back to 1977. (RPX also offers its clients a novel and slightly odd solution to patent trolling: It buys patents from NPEs before they start suing others for licensing fees. RPX asserts they are not themselves patent trolls.)
Both the RPX data and other sources make it clear that NPEs are predominantly trolls, mainly because of who NPEs go after: cash-rich tech companies. Cohen, Gurun, and Kominers calculate that the likelihood of getting sued by an NPE is roughly 16 percent among companies with the most cash, roughly double the baseline rate. By comparison, the likelihood of getting sued by a practicing entity—that is, a company that actually worked to create its patents—is less than five percent. NPEs are also more likely to sue firms with small legal teams and those dealing with other lawsuits. In other words, they go after companies with the biggest wallets and the fewest available minutes.
They conveniently neglect to mention that RPX is now a powerhouse of huge ‘patent trolls’ such as IBM. Not good advice at all… this is even more useless than OIN, which was also (co-)created by IBM and was originally led by IBM staff, Jerry Rosenthal. █
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