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02.09.18

To Understand the Protection Racket Look Not at Microsoft But at Patent Trolls Which It Sponsors

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 4:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The ‘enforcers’ are Finjan et al.

RacketSummary: An outline of patent activities which are connected to Microsoft, including the protection racket known as Azure IP Advantage

THE patent strategy which revolves around taxing GNU/Linux carries on at Microsoft. It’s alive and well, it's just 'dressed up' or marketed differently.

Erich Andersen (Corporate Vice President and Chief IP Counsel at Microsoft, based in Redmond) will never say that Microsoft is running a racket. Maybe he’ll even convince himself otherwise. Having recently driven that crazy “AI” hype, Microsoft’s Andersen now says: “During this time when customers are rapidly adopting #AI solutions across industries to solve important problems, Microsoft is helping to protect those investments by offering #AI patents as part of #AzureIPAdvantage…”

“The patent strategy which revolves around taxing GNU/Linux carries on at Microsoft.”Also, linking to IAM, he wrote: “One year after the launch of #AzureIPAdvantage, our commitment to protecting @Azure customers from IP claims remains strong and unmatched in the industry…”

What he does not say, however, is that Azure IP Advantage is a misnomer; it’s actually a protection racket. This week, for example, he also promoted software patents by citing the EPO’s latest stunt, which frames such patents as “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

“What he does not say, however, is that Azure IP Advantage is a misnomer; it’s actually a protection racket.”“No surprise here,” he wrote, as “patent filings up at the EPO in “Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies”” (that’s software patents, by IAM’s own admission). Those sorts of buzzwords, “AI” included (EPO prefers “ICT” and “CII”), are nowadays routinely used to dodge the negative publicity of software patenting. Suffice to say, software patents are at the very heart of the racket (Azure just runs code), but after Alice their value is questionable at best.

The other day, piggybacking the gender slant, this event promoted software patents, relying on a Microsoft-sponsored patent troll called Finjan for lobbying. Coreena Brinck said that the USPTO “recently handed down a decision where software was found eligible for patentable: Finjan v Blue Coat Systems Inc.”

We wrote several articles about that and it’s not what they claim it to be. This same case was also mentioned on February 5th by Peter Keros. He focused on patents as corporate welfare (what Microsoft is pursuing) when they’re not just a loophole/instrument of tax evasion (very common). To quote:

Damages for patent infringement must be apportioned to the infringing features of an accused product and supported by substantial evidence. Finjan, Inc., v. Blue Coat Systems Inc., No. 2016-2520 (January 10, 2018) (precedential). After considering subject matter eligibility and infringement of the asserted patents, the Federal Circuit reviewed the damages awarded by the jury, reversing awards unsupported by substantial evidence and affirming awards properly apportioned.

Finjan, Inc. v Cisco Systems has also just been brought up in the following context:

The court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s willful patent infringement claims for failing to sufficiently allege egregious behavior.

Microsoft-sponsored patent trolls keep harassing Microsoft’s competitors in court, fueling the above-mentioned protection racket. They want companies to either enter Azure or enter exclusive ‘clubs’ like AST. “AST members including IBM, Microsoft and Google,” IAM said the other day, “spend $2.5 million in latest IP3 patent buying programme,” noting:

AST has announced the results of its latest IP3 initiative which saw 15 of the defensive patent platform’s members participate, including Google, IBM, Microsoft and Ford.

In total they spent almost $2.5 million to buy 70 active assets in 19 portfolios with prices per lot ranging from $25,000 to $390,000; and an average selling price per family of $128,000. There was an average of 3.6 assets per family (up from 1.84 last year) with the largest lot that was acquired including 21 US patent filings (a lot could comprise multiple families).

IBM, Microsoft and other patent villains are basically at peace with each other because they all have a lot of patents; but what about smaller companies? Those are the companies that IBM and Microsoft go after, but not always directly. Several years ago Microsoft passed many of Nokia’s patents to this patent troll (MOSAID) and based on this new press release (via) Microsoft and Nokia keep feeding other patent trolls using key patents (like they did MOSAID). To quote:

This offering follows on the heels of the Telecommunications Portfolio I offering made in August of 2017 via AQUA Licensing. The previous portfolio consisted of 4,260 patent families. To date, buyers have been identified for a significant portion of the initial offering.

The new Telecommunications Portfolio II offering comprises 557 patent families, developed by Alcatel-Lucent / Bell Labs, Nokia Technologies and Nokia Networks.

These patents can thus be used to go after AWS clients or Microsoft rivals in the device space. Not everyone can afford membership in AST or RPX or whatever new pools they keep setting up. To avoid the perception that IBM is going to attack GNU/Linux with patents, the Open Invention Network (OIN) was set up more than a decade ago. Never mind if IBM sells patents to trolls like Finjan and OIN, by its own admission, cannot do anything against trolls.

The latest OIN addition is Hitachi, as announced in this press release a few days ago.

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, and Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE:6501) (Hitachi) announced today that Hitachi has joined as a community member. As an innovation partner for the IoT era through the advanced Social Innovation Business that leverage OT (operational technology) and IT, Hitachi is demonstrating its commitment to open source software as an enabler of innovation across a wide spectrum of industries.

“Hitachi was an early and enthusiastic supporter of open source. It helps businesses modernize their industrial applications with technologies that rely heavily on Linux and embedded Linux, like the Internet of Things (IoT),” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. “Given its substantial patent holdings, we are pleased that Hitachi has recognized the importance of participating in OIN as part of its IP strategy.”

They (OIN) may sound Linux-friendly, but they don’t fight software patents. It’s like an IBM (amongst others’) instrument/tool/front group. Here is what Linux Journal wrote about this:

Hitachi has joined the Open Invention Network, “the largest patent non-aggression community in history”. According to Norihiro Suzuki, Vice President and Executive Officer, CTO of Hitachi, “Open source technology, especially Linux, drives innovation in areas that are critical to the customers that we serve, including technologies such as servers, storage, cloud, converged applications, big data and IoT. By joining Open Invention Network, we are demonstrating our continued commitment to open source technology, and supporting it with patent non-aggression in Linux.” See the press release for more information.

“Microsoft does not love Linux. In fact, Microsoft hates Linux. It just doesn’t want people to see it, so attacks on GNU/Linux typically come through consultancies such as Accenture and patent trolls like Finjan.”OIN will not be able to protect clients of Microsoft’s rivals (or Microsoft’s rivals themselves) when some troll like Finjan or MOSAID (now known as Conversant) runs after them, so it’s a pretty toothless defender. Generally speaking, we expect many more lawsuits like the above. As Microsoft rarely sues directly (anymore) we’re left to analyse the passage of patents, passage of staff (like in Acacia) and the overall strategy.

Microsoft does not love Linux. In fact, Microsoft hates Linux. It just doesn’t want people to see it, so attacks on GNU/Linux typically come through consultancies such as Accenture and patent trolls like Finjan.

Fake ‘Articles’, ‘Debates’ and ‘Webinars’ From Lobbyists Including IBM’s David Kappos, IPO and IPLAC

Posted in Deception, IBM, Patents at 2:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: The Patent Microcosm is Setting Up a Huge Number of Anti-§ 101 Events in an Effort to Thwart Alice and Promote Software Patents

Money stack

Summary: Some of the familiar faces and groups turn up to lobby for patent maximalism, to bash PTAB and so on (serving their sponsors, who are patent bullies and patent law firms)

THE USPTO, which finds itself increasingly ‘supervised’ by PTAB (which affirms or overturns examiners’ decisions), is no longer granting patents as leniently as before.

Patent maximalists are therefore regrouping to “discuss the state of software and business method patent-eligibility in 2018″ in a new so-called ‘webinar’. We have seen many such ‘webinars’ lately. Many are about Alice and their goal is to nuke Alice. But it has not worked. Not yet anyway…

As it turns out, former USPTO Director David Kappos is basically still lobbying for patent maximalism. He writes papers in favour software patents while collecting money from oligarchs and large corporations such as IBM. This software patents lobbyist of IBM actually spent many years working exclusively for IBM and he now uses his USPTO connections in an effort to alter policy. He still lobbies; he has this new article, whose disclosure omits his lobbying activities. It says: “David J. Kappos is a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP; he previously served as Undersecretary of Commerce and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he led the passage and implementation of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011. ”

What about his lobbying business? Funny how that’s just conveniently left out. On February 8th (yesterday) there was this “IPO Webinar–Early Reports and New Ideas on Exhaustion,” as one patent maximalist put it.The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), which is closely connected to IBM [1, 2], is a patent radicals’ front group, so this “webinar” promised to be pure lobbying. Patent Docs said the following about it: “The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) will offer a one-hour webinar entitled “Exhaustion Tamed? Early Reports and New Ideas after Lexmark” on February 8, 2018 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm (ET). Jorge Goldstein of Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, PLLC; Brian Kacedon of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP; and William Krovatin of Merck & Co Inc. will discuss strategies and recent court cases..”

Notice who’s there. The patent microcosm. As usual, they are attempting to dominate or monopolise every single ‘debate’. Some of them are Koch-funded. The Kochs have an interest in Oil States — a case to be decided later this year by the highest US court. Watch how IPLAC (patent maximalists in the north of the US) ‘debates’ this case (also yesterday). Stacked panel to ‘discuss’ a key case? You bet:

The Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago (IPLAC) Young Members Committee will be presenting a panel discussion entitled “There Will Be Blood (and Beer): A Brief Panel Discussion on Oil States Services LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC” on February 8, 2018 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm (CT) at the offices of Foley & Lardner in Chicago, IL. The panel will discuss Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, including the proceedings before the Supreme Court, and offer commentary on the issue of whether inter partes review violates the Constitution by extinguishing private property rights through a non-Article III forum without a jury.

In our previous post we wrote about the UPC lobby doing similar things in Europe. They set up their own exclusive ‘events’ or ‘forums’ or whatever they want to label these; the real purpose is to mislead and lobby officials.

02.05.18

The Efforts to Work Around 35 U.S.C. § 101 and Why IBM is So Afraid of § 101

Posted in America, IBM, Law, Patents at 3:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM’s actual business has been sent to China (notably Lenovo)

Lenovo notebook

Summary: § 101, which invalidates the lion’s share of software patents in the US, is still the subject of most Internet debates; that’s because restriction/limit on patent scope and almost nothing else really worries the patent microcosm

THE decline/demise of software patents is really hurting IBM because IBM invested/wasted a lot of its cash reserves on a pile of worthless software patents, which are basically worse than worthless. Those patents are bunk, more so after Alice.

We are not arguing that the USPTO stopped issuing software patents. It still issues them (it’s just harder), but courts typically reject these. Yesterday we saw this article titled “Materialise makes software that powers 3-D printing” in which it said that “Materialise now has 165 patents for its software, manufacturing and medical device products.”

How many of these allude just to software and are thus worthless? There’s also an attempt to characterise software patents using all sorts of buzzwords and hype. From the past week alone: “Now Trending in Patent Examination: Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology”, “Filing figures suggest blockchain-related patents boom” and “Financial Services Companies Are Rushing to Patent Blockchain Solutions”. Disguising software patents as “blockchain” isn’t so novel a concept. The applicants or the law firms try to get examiners to say, “well… OK, I don’t get it, I’m not sure what that means, so I’ll grant a patent.”

Here’s one from the weekend: “FOSDEM 2018 blockchain devroom raises questions and discusses #Patents #Povery #Law #Energy #Diversity and #Inclusion aspects of blockchain technology.”

Well, blockchain is software, so forget about patents. Sure, these get granted, but as far as we’re aware, none have been tested in court (yet).

Then there’s the “AI” wave, which IBM keeps riding with publicity stunts like “Watson”. Nobody invented “AI” and its buzzword ‘branches’ (data-driven training/learning). The concepts are very old, but over time there’s more computing power at hand. The corporate media really ought to stop using the “AI” hype because it is being exploited for patent propaganda, such as this from today.

There’s a constant effort to work around Alice and patent software. Watchtroll, for instance, published this thing yesterday, claiming to have come up with new loopholes. It says that the USTPO “recently issued a bulletin explaining that on January 25th, a revised MPEP — Ninth edition (Revision 08.2017) of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) was made available on the USPTO website.”

None of this really changes anything. They’re talking about semantics. So does Charles Bieneman, who days ago wrote that “CAPTCHA Patent Claims Survive Alice Challenge,” albeit only at a district court (i.e. the lowest possible level). To quote:

Patent claims directed to “generating a completely automated test to tell computers and humans apart” – i.e., improvements to what you’ve seen on the Internet as “CAPTCHA” – have survived a motion to dismiss alleging patent-ineligibility under 35 USC § 101 and the Alice abstract idea test. Confident Technologies, Inc. v. AXS Group LLC, No. 3-17-cv-02181 (S.D. Cal. Jan. 23, 2018).

If they want to seriously debate § 101, then they ought to look at higher courts, such as the Federal Circuit.

Regarding an IBM patent recently rejected under § 101, one troll friend wrote: “Its ]sic] Tuesday, so of course IBM has #patent application improperly rejected under §101 at PTAB, by ignoring 90% of language and boiling them down to simply claiming “logical parsing of information” https://e-foia.uspto.gov/Foia/RetrievePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2017008361-01-30-2018-1 …”

IBM has been losing a lot of software patents lately. PTAB invalidates them every week. “IBM is the only operating company that breaks the top-10,” Patently-O wrote the other day in “Firms with the Most Registered Patent Attorneys and Agents”. Well, IBM is operating less and less over time. Dan Gillmor recently called IBM “a company that basically invented patent trolling and employs platoons of patent lawyers,” having watched the company for decades.

From Patently-O:

According to these records, Finnegan has the most total practitioners while Knobbe has the most patent attorneys. IBM is the only operating company that breaks the top-10. The top 25 firms represent ~8% of all registered patent practitioners. The newest patent attorney on the list is Hallie Wimberley, a first-year associate at Reed Smith. My former firm (MBHB) is now up over 100.

Janice Mueller, writing in Twitter the other day, said: “Delicious irony that IBM now #6 on this list. They were one of the anti-software patent leaders in 1970s. Times do change.”

“IBM is now the biggest lobbyist for software [patents] everywhere,” I replied, “not just the US” (she agreed on that). IBM is like a troll almost. It’s not there yet, but it's already feeding trolls.

Can § 101 put an end to most of IBM’s aggression? We certainly hope so. § 101, based on this tweet, is still being used a lot by PTAB. Another § 101 tweet noted that it’s not § 101 but § 103 that did the trick: “Examiner’s Rejection of Philips Imaging Patent Application Claims under 101 Was Reversed by PTAB; 103 Rejection Affirmed: https://storage.googleapis.com/pbf-prod/pdfs/2018-01-23_13260533_175904.pdf …”

Charles Bieneman’s colleague, Kevin Hinman, wrote about 35 U.S.C. § 112. There’s also this new post regarding § 112 (“aspirational claiming”) and regarding Crane Security Technologies, Inc. et al v Rolling Optics AB § 287 got brought up in the Docket Navigator. There’s more than just § 101 at play; here’s § 287 as explained by Hunton & Williams LLP’s Daniel G. Vivarelli, Christopher J. Nichols and Suzanne P. Hosseini. This too falls under AIA:

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) made various changes to the “marking statute” (35 U.S.C. § 287(a)) to permit virtual marking of patent numbers, effective for any lawsuit that was pending on or commenced after September 16, 2011. The purpose of marking an article is to provide constructive notice to the public that it is patented. More importantly, failure to mark an article can preclude the tolling of legal damages for patent infringement until effective notice is given. Ultimately, “[a patentee] is entitled to damages from the time when it either began marking its product in compliance with section 287(a) [i.e., providing constructive notice], or when it actually notified [the accused infringer] of its infringement, whichever [is] earlier.” Thus, in the event of a failure to mark, § 287(a) provides that “… no damages shall be recovered by a patentee in any action for infringement, except on proof that the infringer was notified of the infringement and continued to infringe thereafter, in which event damages may be recovered only for infringement occurring after such notice.”

Yesterday (or last night) Watchtroll also wrote about § 121: “The safe-harbor provision of 35 U.S.C § 121 is a defense against a double patenting rejection. If it applied, the ‘272 and ‘195 patents could not be used as prior art against the ’471 patent.”

On § 102 (AIA) Gregory Sephton and Anna Schoenfelder (Kramer Levin) wrote:

Over the last few decades, the United States has been incrementally harmonizing its patent law with the rest of the world. Those efforts continued with the signing of the America Invents Act (“AIA”) in 2011. For example, the AIA created a first inventor-to-file patent system, while all but eliminating the best mode requirement. One area where we have not moved as far towards harmonization with the passing of the AIA as some initially thought is patent invalidity based on an “on sale” bar.

What’s worth noting here is that the patent microcosm is typically focused on just one section, namely 101. This is what typically tackles abstract patents such as software patents. What does that obsession imply? They’re mostly concerned/infatuated with patent maximalism, more so than matters like “damages”. That says a lot about them.

01.26.18

How a Microsoft-Sponsored and IBM-Armed Patent Troll Is Used by Lobbyists of Software Patents

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 3:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Finjan started suing a lot of companies after Microsoft had paid it in 2005

Microsoft and Finjan

Summary: In an effort to make § 101 seem as though it’s tolerant towards software patents, patent law firms and front groups of trolls cherry-pick what they like in the largely-failed lawsuit against Blue Coat Systems

The relatively new euphemism, "public IP companies", is being promoted by patent trolls and their fronts (such as IAM). They keep looking for new identities. Finjan is one such troll — a troll which has been financially backed by Microsoft for a very long time and last year received more ammunition (from IBM [1, 2]).

Unfortunately, as we noted last week, the patent microcosm uses this troll in order to badmouth § 101 and promote software patents (we shall say more about that in the weekend). For example, a few days ago Dilworth IP’s Shin Hee Lee and Anthony D. Sabatelli published this article in which they wholeheartedly embraced a truly disgusting troll. The patent microcosm, i.e. people who profit from agony and litigation, wants to thwart the (near) ban on software patents and it found itself a ‘champion’:

On January 4th, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office updated their webpage on subject matter eligibility with two new supplementary documents providing further guidance under 35 U.S.C. §101. The two new documents are useful summaries and references for practitioners and others having an interest in the area.

[...]

On January 10, 2018, the court decided Finjan, Inc. Blue Coat Systems, Inc., where upon de novo review it affirmed a district court finding that the underlying software-based subject matter was indeed patent eligible.

What they choose not to mention are the many patents which § 101 did, in fact, invalidate. They cherry-pick just the one thing that suits them. We predicted they would attempt this (as soon as the decision had been published). We first covered the outcome 13 days ago.

Hours ago IAM also did this puff piece for Finjan (not even remotely an effort at journalism). It starts with repetition of talking points from a press release:

Finjan has already recouped the $2 million it spent on acquiring a small package of patents from IBM last year as part of a deal which saw the cyber security business form a new subsidiary, Finjan Blue. The news emerged as the company announced its results for the fourth quarter and for 2017 as a whole, revealing a big jump in revenues to more than $50 million – including around $15 million in net income. It was, in short, a banner year for one of the small band of public IP companies (PIPCOs) that has thrived despite recent legal and regulatory headwinds in the US.

[...]

At the time of the announcement, Finjan CEO Phil Hartstein revealed that not only would the new subsidiary be looking to license the IP but that it was also interested in how the acquired patents might be able to support its product business, Finjan Mobile. “This deal augments our licensing business but also adds value to the product side,” Hartstein explained to this blog.

But on a recent call with analysts to discuss the latest results, Hartstein disclosed that such had been the licensing interest in the assets that the PIPCO had shifted its efforts “to existing licensing and settlement discussions in a positive way, with revenues allocated into Finjan Blue having already offset the current invested expense”.

The deal with IBM and licensing agreements that Hartstein and his team put in place last year with the likes of FireEye and Sophos reflect Finjan’s progress in monetising its IP, but, as with many PIPCOs, it has been far from all plain sailing. Most recently the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that a large part of a $39 million damages award against Blue Coat had to be remanded back to district court. That was just the latest stage in what is proving to be an extremely convoluted litigation battle between the two companies.

What they describe as “convoluted litigation battle” alluding to “two companies” is actually one company and one troll, where the battle is fought in just one direction (Finjan has no products to actually sue over) and the courts mostly reject the troll’s claims. But don’t expect IAM et al to tell the full story. They don’t tell, they sell. They sell agenda; they’re funded by trolls.

01.20.18

Blockchain Patents Are a Catastrophe in the Making as Trolls and Aggressors Accumulate Them

Posted in IBM, Patents at 4:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: Blockstream Has No Patents, But Pledges Not to Sue Using Patents

Marathon Patent Group: Massively Overvalued
Reference: Marathon Patent Group: Massively Overvalued

Summary: As patents pertaining to blockchains continue to be granted — even in defiance of Alice/Section 101 — it seems likely that patent wars will sooner or later erupt, involving some large banks, IBM, and patent trolls associated with the notorious Erich Spangenberg

THE emergence of digital currencies (also known as cryptocurrencies) brought rise to blockchains — a concept whose explanation ought to quickly reveal to anyone that it boils down to software and is thus not eligible for patents (except maybe in China).

There is a growing threat now; that threat isn’t FUD or “hacks” or “collapse” or whatever; patent parasites are like hawks waiting to attack digital currencies. See “Patent Strategies for Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology” [PDF] and all sorts of articles from media of patent maximalists. They’re waiting to initiate something similar to and barely distinguishable from patent wars in mobile phones. Jon Calvert of ClearViewIP, for example, is quoted alongside a bunch of patent law firms. They all defend the ‘screwing’ of blockchains with a vast thicket of software patents. To quote:

The bigger tech companies, the IBMs of this world, are trying to create blockchain infrastructure that can be used by corporate enterprises or financial institutions. They want to charge for software as a service. By having patent protected technology, they can argue that theirs is the best, the most valuable, or the most valid, which makes them more credible. These are also the people who are more likely to use their patents aggressively later, when they’ve got a strong portfolio. If you look at Microsoft, they were probably filing blockchain patents almost a decade ago.

IBM’s role was noted here many times before; don’t be misled by the reformed IBM of Samuel J. Palmisano. The company has become not only a patent bully (again) but also the leading lobbyist for software patents worldwide. The other day the corporate media published an article (puff piece) titled “IBM Fueling 2018 Cloud Growth With 1900 Cloud Patents Plus Blazingly Fast AI-Optimized Chip” (emphasis on patents, which are basically software patents disguised as “cloud”). Such patents PR (and dumb new headline from Forbes) helps reveal what IBM has in its field of vision. IBM isn’t eager to transition the whole world to Bitcoin or anything remotely like that. Blockchain patents are a looming storm which trolls too wish to participate in. It was mentioned the other day by IBM and even the Linux Foundation speaks about it:

IBM and A.P. Moeller-Maersk on Tuesday announced a joint venture to create a platform based on Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, with the goal of creating huge efficiencies in the global supply chain. IBM and Maersk have teamed up to provide a more efficient method of standardizing shipping logistics using blockchain technology. “Adoption of Hyperledger Fabric by Maersk and … IBM has the potential to remake the shipping sector landscape and its use of information technology,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director of The Linux Foundation.

In Bloomberg, on Tuesday, a less Linux-centric article was published and iophk, our reader, said that “this guarantees that blockchain advancements will occur outside the US” (that’s the effect of overpatenting). To quote Bloomberg:

Bank of America Corp. may not be willing to help customers invest in Bitcoin, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t plowing into the technology underlying the cryptocurrency.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based lender has applied for or received at least 43 patents for blockchain, the ledger technology used for verifying and recording transactions that’s at the heart of virtual currencies. It is the largest number among major banks and technology companies, according to a study by EnvisionIP, a New York-based law firm that specializes in analyses of intellectual property.

It’s all about patents; The Linux Foundation plays along because its initiative, Hyperledger, is IBM-led. It always was, right from the start. The Linux Foundation merely acts as a sort of incubator pulling together contributions and helping the openwash.

As it turns out, based on another announcement, another patent aggressor (connected to Erich Spangenberg) positions itself to attack blockchains with patents. To quote:

Marathon Patent Group, Inc. (MARA), today announced that it has entered into a purchase agreement to acquire four patents related to the transmission and exchange of cryptocurrencies between buyers and sellers.

This might be another front for the likes of Spangenberg, whose latest venture was advertised a couple of times in corporate media (CNBC).

The details above may seem vague; that is because those who apply for or harvest blockchain patents (stockpiling) intentionally thrive in mystique/ambiguities. Patents like these don’t exist for ‘defensive’ purposes; someone is planning to at least try to make a lot of money using these patents alone (without an actual implementation of anything).

01.13.18

Top Rank at USPTO Goes to the Biggest Patent Bully, IBM

Posted in America, IBM, Patents at 10:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Does the US want a patent bully as a flag bearer of its patent system?

Ginni Rometty

Photo source (modified slightly): The 10 Most Powerful Women in Technology Today

Summary: With 2017 figures coming to light (and to the mainstream/corporate media), we scrutinise what has received the most attention and why it’s detrimental to the reputation of the US patent system

THE USPTO, formerly run by a former IBM employee (and current IBM lobbyist for software patents), does no favour to its reputation. David Kappos still working as a lobbyist contributes to the perception of “revolving doors” or brokering.

The latest figures from the USPTO reaffirm such perceptions; there were two angles in corporate media this past week, one being China/India (nationality) and another IBM (by firm). The firm behind the figures wrote that “Chinese companies increased their US #patent count by 28% in 2017 from 2016.”

Here is the original page and the press release that said “IFI CLAIMS Announces 2017 Top U.S. Patent Recipients”.

Michael Loney, apparently visiting Hong Kong this month, wrote: “A record number of patents were granted by the USPTO last year, according to the 2017 IFI Claims US Top 50.”

“China is among top 5 U.S. patent recipients for first time,” said this headline from official/state media in China (the English-speaking site).

“China Becomes One of the Top 5 U.S. Patent Recipients for the First Time,” said Wall Street media, which also focused on nationality of applicants.

Chinese inventors received 11,241 U.S. patents last year, a 28 percent increase over the same period in 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by IFI Claims Patent Services, a unit of Fairview Research LLC. That propels the nation into the top five recipients for the first time, behind the U.S., Japan, Korea and Germany, but ahead of Taiwan.

A lot of it was a PR exercise from IFI and IAM played along with blog posts like this one (“Patents no barrier to Chinese smartphones in the US market”). “For licensors,” it said, “it means that aside from Apple and Samsung, a big swathe of the world’s biggest mobile device sellers simply won’t see the US as a critically important market. That means any effort to enforce patents against them will be most effective somewhere else.”

Most of the press coverage, however, was not about nations but about firms. We did a comprehensive media survey and found that dominant headlines stated things like “IBM Breaks Patent Record in 25th Straight Year as Number One” and “IBM led on patents in 2017, Facebook broke into top 50 for the first time” (Samsung 2nd, Canon 3rd). As IBM has outsourced or sent overseas many jobs, there were also headlines such as “India 2nd largest contributor to IBM’s over 9,000 patents in 2017″ and “IBM tops US patent list in 2017, Indian arm among major contributors”.

9,043 US patents for IBM just this past year. While the company is suing a lot of companies or compelling them to pay 'protection' money to avoid litigation. The USPTO is debased due to this tendency to just sue aplenty, but thankfully the courts have become tougher. Watchtroll wrote this:

IBM inventors received a record number of U.S. patents in 2017, again blowing past their own previous record to sail past 9,000 issued patents. The 9,043 U.S. patents issued to IBM in 2017 represents an average of nearly 25 patents a day. These 9,043 U.s. patents were granted to a diverse group of more than 8,500 IBM researchers, engineers, scientists and designers in 47 different U.S. states and 47 countries.

Imagine that; “25 patents a day” (recall what journalist Dan Gillmor recently said about that; he said that IBM “basically invented patent trolling and employs platoons of patent lawyers”).

So IBM has not much to show now but patents and patent deals/settlements. As if IBM becoming a kind of troll is somehow good for its reputation…

Our next post will revisit Finjan, a very notorious patent troll that IBM fed patents into as recently as last year.

“IBM has no choice,” IAM said. “Imagine the headlines if it ever fell off top place. It could well make a material difference. That may not be a great position to be in.”

Well, IBM used to be known if not renowned/famous for its very many patents. Nowadays it’s known for a lot of patent aggression, so the more patents it gets granted, the worse off society/industry will be.

01.06.18

When All That’s Left is a Bunch of Patents: Stories of IBM, Finjan, Ericsson, and Citrix

Posted in America, IBM, Patents at 9:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ericsson troll

Summary: Companies on the decline, where the number of products already verges (or is) zero, decide to just sue the entire industry, thereby reinforcing the cautionary tale about patents as ‘insurance policy’ taking its toll on real (operating) companies

THE USPTO has long granted all sorts of bizarre software patents. Those were granted on ideas that had already been implemented elsewhere (without the coder/developer/programmer pursuing a patent). There was extensive prior art, but code at the time was rarely shared on the Web (definitely not in the nineties and back in the eighties there was no World Wide Web just yet).

“There was extensive prior art, but code at the time was rarely shared on the Web (definitely not in the nineties and back in the eighties there was no World Wide Web just yet).”One such company which pursued many software patents was IBM. It applied for (and received) a humongous number of software patents. That was back in the nineties and the decade that followed. It spent many years in the top spot for prolific patenters (classified by firm). Many of these patents are still valid as in not expired; but they’re not necessarily valid based on triviality and prior art assessments (if done properly). IBM is now trying to ‘monetise’ these patents and as we noted some days ago, IBM now goes after Web firms (there’s a pattern here). A few days ago GeekWire wrote that “IBM is suing Expedia, alleging that the popular travel site has for years been infringing on several of its patents, some of which date back to the early days of the internet.” Because those patents are about to expire and IBM is about to die (the company’s core business is slipping away and layoffs are routine).

Will IBM change its ways? We doubt it. For a number of years we’ve complained about IBM’s ferocious lobbying for software patents in the US, putting aside its many threats and lawsuits against Web firms (such as Twitter). IBM is now a taxman and it is eager to maintain this revenue steam; it has become similar to Microsoft over the past 15 years (Microsoft hadn’t been aggressive with patents until its monopoly was slipping away just before Windows Vista and the ongoing rise of Google/Apple).

“For a number of years we’ve complained about IBM’s ferocious lobbying for software patents in the US, putting aside its many threats and lawsuits against Web firms (such as Twitter).”A few days ago we wrote about the patent troll Finjan because it blackmailed FireEye. It is supported by Microsoft and it received some patents from IBM to bolster its trolling efforts.

“FireEye and Finjan settle,” said this headline just before the weekend. Understatement of the year? So far in 2018? To call trolling and blackmail a “settlement” is to grossly misrepresent what happened. Finjan does nothing but this. It’s a predator. From the article:

Cybersecurity firm FireEye has agreed to pay $12.5 million to patent licensing company Finjan as part of an agreement settling their patent dispute.

The settlement includes a patent licence agreement, granting cross-licences between the two companies for the disputed patents.

Or, in simpler terms, “protection money”. Finjan will now use that as ‘ammunition’ with which to threaten more companies (the few it has not already sued and/or extracted “protection money” from). It’s appalling. IBM and Microsoft actively helped this troll.

“Finjan will now use that as ‘ammunition’ with which to threaten more companies (the few it has not already sued and/or extracted “protection money” from).”Elsewhere in the news we find mentions of Ericsson's trolling practices in Europe. This case was concluded around Christmas (we wrote about it) and IAM rushes to defend the trolling with tweets like this: “Ericsson IP chief highlights “methodological and mathematical errors” in landmark TCL decision as Swedish mobile giant plots appeal…”

Notice how they only tell or emphasise one side of this story. So did the writer of the story, who tweeted this: “Goes without saying that this decision is not good for licensors but taken with UP v Huawei and other big SEP decisions we now have some much clearer guidelines such as use of top down methodology and variable regional rates. That can only be good thing for #patent licensing…” (trolling)

IAM’s coverage, as expected, means amplifying — right from the headline — only the side/assertion/creed of patent trolls:

Key ruling in high-profile US FRAND case “highly biased in favour of infringers”, says Ericsson’s chief IP officer

[...]

Speaking to the IAM blog Ericsson chief IP officer Gustav Brismark has made his first public comments on the judgment handed down by a California court just before Christmas in the Swedish telco’s high-profile FRAND licensing dispute with Chinese mobile manufacturer TCL. The decision, which was filed on 21st December, is the latest case involving standard essential patents (SEPs) to hit the courts and is largely seen to have gone against Ericsson.

This is the kind of coverage we have come to expect from IAM because the site (like the magazine and events) is little more than a megaphone of trolls and patent aggressors. It’s like ‘Watchtroll Lite’.

“This is the kind of coverage we have come to expect from IAM because the site (like the magazine and events) is little more than a megaphone of trolls and patent aggressors.”Watchtroll has just written about a case which we mentioned here before — a case wherein a firm is pushing aside smaller rivals. This is the kind of thing IBM has been doing for decades, relying on its vastly bigger patent portfolio and vastly deeper pockets. And speaking of which, watch this new report about Citrix using its patents against a smaller rival as a form of retaliation for “improper conduct”, “deceptive statements” and so on. Patents are just being used for leverage here; it’s not about patents but about the defendant hiring “a number of its former employees and executives in the last few years.” To quote:

Citrix added that the aim of the suit was to prevent Avi Networks’ “improper conduct” and to recover damages over its wrongful use of its patented technology in its Vantage Platform. Citrix also wants to stop Avi Networks from making “further deceptive statements” and selling its infringing product without the correct licenses.

Citrix appears to have a beef with Avi Networks over its recruitment practices as well, as the smaller firm has hired a number of its former employees and executives in the last few years. This includes Avi Network’s current Chief Executive Officer Amit Pandey, who served as vice president and general manager of Mobile Solutions at Citrix from January 2013 to March 2014.

“Several other Citrix employees have left to join that company, bringing with them their knowledge of Citrix’s products and intellectual property,” Citrix complained in its filing.

What it means to say is that these employees simply know something and by virtue of knowing these things they become a liability. Citrix has been having business deflation issues and it now digs deep for patents with which to ‘punish’ rivals. How typical of software patents and those who possess them…

01.03.18

IBM Has Become Almost Indistinguishable From the Patent Trolls It Passes Patents to (Finjan for Example)

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 3:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM has become another Microsoft

Ginni Rometty

Summary: IBM and Microsoft have adopted a similar patent strategy which involves threatening a lot of companies for ‘protection’ money and passing patents to patent trolls that threaten these same companies some more

THE life cycle or the lifespan of patents at the USPTO is typically 20 years. This means that many patents preceding the dot com bust are about to expire.

IBM is a dying company. It’s just trying to make money from a dying empire of mainframes which, in the age of hosting VMs/VPSs (so-called ‘cloud’), is worth zilch. IBM has already fired many of its ‘expensive’ employees and it now operates like a classic patent troll. As WIPR has just put it (in the headline), “IBM settles patent suit, sues Expedia over same patents” (like every patent troll).

Technology multinational IBM settled a patent dispute with a company that manages travel websites, one day before suing US travel company Expedia over the same four patents.

In 2015, WIPR reported that IBM had taken action against The Priceline Group, which manages travel websites such as priceline.com, and had alleged infringement of four patents.

The patents asserted include two that were issued in the late 1990s: US numbers 5,796,967 and 5,961,601. The ‘967 patent tracks previous conversations online between a web user and a merchant, and the ‘601 patent covers technology related to web performance.

Both sound like software patents which are about to expire. Trolling much, IBM? This desperate?

Let’s not forget that IBM also sold patents to this troll called Finjan last year. We wrote about its latest attack in the morning and it turns out that we were right. The press release (still being circulated) was hogwash as earlier this evening financial media made it clearer that was not licensing but blackmail. “Finjan (FNJN) Settles With FireEye for a Net $12.5 Million,” it says, so that’s nothing like “cross licensing” (as the press release suggested). To quote:

Finjan (NASDAQ:FNJN) announced today that it settled with FireEye for a net $12.5 in cash that was paid in Q4 2017. With this payment, Finjan will redeem about 31% of the Series A-1 preferred shares or $4.7 million of the $15.3 million Series A-1 Preferred Stock financing. From December 16, 2017 to March 16, 2018 Finjan is able to redeem this stock at 1.3 times the original purchase price. FireEye agreed to pay Finjan $17.5 million in license fees comprised of $12.5 million in cash which was paid on December 29, 2017, and $5.0 million which will be offset by $5 million in license fees from Finjan to FireEye under the FireEye cross license agreement.

What we have here is a publicly-traded troll. We named another one this morning. This troll is connected to both Microsoft and IBM, both of which have a track record of passing patents to aggressive trolls. What does that make Microsoft and IBM?

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