Donald Trump's friend Bill Gates as President is likely good news for Bill’s close friend, Nathan Myhrvold from Intellectual Ventures
Summary: Pessimism about the prospects of patent progress or patent reform in an age of staunchly pro-business Conservatives and glorification of protectionism
With President (starting Friday) Donald Trump rumoured to be putting a corrupt man in charge of the USPTO (a man who also promotes software patents and defends patent trolls) we have some legitimate reasons for concern. United for Patent Reform said: “The best thing the administration and Congress can do is to let USPTO continue on this course” (citing an article we mentioned here a few days ago). But the Director of the USPTO is said to be on her way out and Trump is likely to nominate/appoint some pro-business Conservatives to SCOTUS Justice positions. Not too promising…
As Patently-O has just put it in its SCOTUS 2017 patent review:
A new Supreme Court justice will likely be in place by the end of April, although the Trump edition is unlikely to substantially shake-up patent law doctrine in the short term.
Patent trolls are a symptom of the patent maximalism syndrome. When even basic algorithms are considered patentable a whole lot of companies become easy litigation targets and some opportunistic non-producing firms exploit that.
Pieter Hintjens died a few months ago and he knows the cost of being a target of patent trolls. “If you have not read it yet,” Benjamin Henrion told me, “there is a chapter in Confessions of a Necromancer
[PDF] on AllisBlue patent troll” (mentioned here 7 years ago as it attacked many companies).
“When I started to work with him in late 2005, he was firing all the people that were working on the SMS@ gateway project. Search for SMS@ in the PDF, there are other mentions as well.”
Here is one of the relevant parts from the PDF:
Around the same time, I got involved in the FFII, fighting software patents in Europe. One of my motivations was that our SMS@ application had been attacked by a patent troll (AllIsBlue). I’d fought back by building an industry association, yet was the only firm willing to take a stance. In the end I shut the app and fired that team, too.
Fighting software patents was easy at that stage. The FFII was in chaos after a long and hard fight in the European Parliament to defeat a law that would have let firms patent software, along the American model. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear to me yet, I was elected president. Somewhat out of nowhere, I’d no such ambition.
Sadly, the US continues to have an epidemic of patent trolls, albeit the problem is getting smaller. It is always a very bad sign when company has nothing to show except patents. Here is an example from last night. This is all BOS Global has to show:
Then there is also Microsoft, which totally failed in the mobile market (barely any sales!) and increasingly relies on patent blackmail against Android, ChromeOS, and other operating systems with Linux in them. Last night we found at least a dozen articles in English about the latest Microsoft patent, e.g. [1, 2], including puff pieces from Microsoft boosters. How long before Microsoft uses this patent to extort if not embargo Linux-based products? In the same way it has done for almost a decade…
“If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again.”Also based on news from last night, Cisco uses patents to embargo its competition yet again [1, 2, 3]. Background about Cisco’s strategy of using patents to virtually embargo Arista’s products can be found in [1, 2, 3].
It’s going to be interesting to see if later in the year patent aggression and trolling will see a resurgence. If the rumours have a solid basis to them, Trump wants to Make Patent Trolls Great Again. █
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Picture contributed by a reader in 2008
Summary: The President of Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC (patent troll) leaves and the founder of Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s largest peripheral patent troll, joins Sherpa Technology
TECHRIGHTS has been writing about Microsoft’s patent attacks on GNU/Linux for just over a decade. It was the primary focus of this Web site.
The head of Microsoft’s “IP licensing operation” (i.e. patent extortion), according to this new report, is leaving, only months after Horacio Gutierrez left. As a bit of background IAM says this:
A Microsoft veteran who joined the company back in 1998, Psyhogeos’s most recent position prior to taking over the IP monetisation reins was vice president of OEM licensing, where he held overall responsibility for Microsoft’s licensing and pricing arrangements with its original equipment manufacturer partners worldwide. In November 2013, Psyhogeos was appointed general manager and associate general counsel of IP licensing by then-head of IP Horacio Gutierrez (now general counsel at Spotify) as part of a reshuffle in the wake of chief patent counsel Bart Eppenauer’s move into private practice (which also saw Minhas take over the chief patent counsel role). The following year, Microsoft span patent monetisation activities out into a separate entity, Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC, with Psyhogeos as its president.
When IAM says “patent monetisation” it means patent trolling. IAM is funded by some patent trolls, so it’s inherently biased and always sympathetic towards trolls, not just towards Microsoft (the site is purely Microsoft-based and Microsoft is habitually quoted as an ‘expert’, especially Bart Eppenauer).
“Microsoft officials made it clear that the patent war against Android was still on.”“Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC,” as the above puts it, “with Psyhogeos as its president,” is basically Microsoft’s PURE patent troll, which has engaged in patent blackmail against OEMs that sell ChromeOS (GNU/Linux), Android (Linux), and more…
What does the above mean for Microsoft’s patent troll? We don’t know for sure yet, but even after Gutierrez had left the company Microsoft persisted in patent extortion against Linux. Microsoft officials made it clear that the patent war against Android was still on. It’s just 'dressed up' a little differently (face-saving PR tactics), as we last saw in the Xiaomi settlement.
But wait, there’s more…
“Is Detkin seeing the writings on the wall? What/how about Nathan Myhrvold?”After massive layoffs and financial issues at Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s biggest and most vicious patent troll (which habitually attacks Linux and Android device makers) we now learn that its founder moves on. We mentioned this earlier this week, but MIP has some further details. To quote: “Advisory firm Sherpa Technology Group has appointed Peter Detkin as senior advisor. This coincides with Sherpa Technology Group’s rebrand from 3LP Advisors. Detkin is a founder of Intellectual Ventures and holds more than 40,000 patents. He will remain involved with the company. Before founding Intellectual Ventures, Detkin was a vice-president at Intel Corporation, where he oversaw Intel’s patent, licensing and litigation departments. “We have decided to rebrand ourselves as Sherpa Technology Group to emphasise our role as an experienced guide that enables our clients to reach the peak and achieve their ultimate objectives,” said Ralph Eckardt, managing partner of Sherpa Technology Group.”
The founder of world’s largest patent troll (Microsoft-connected) did not finally leave Intellectual Ventures, but with one foot out one might suppose he is gradually walking out, sort of. It remains to be seen just how much trouble Intellectual Ventures will have now that software patents are collapsing. A few months ago Intellectual Ventures lost a major case at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Quite a few of its software patents got shot down by the judge, who extrapolated and clarified that software patents are a threat to free speech and are therefore in conflict with the pillars of US law. Is Detkin seeing the writings on the wall? What/how about Nathan Myhrvold? █
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When so-called ‘cross-licensing’ with patent purchases (the latest Microsoft method) is actually a disguise/cover for patent settlement after extortion [1, 2, 3, 4]
Summary: The patent lust at IBM, which is suing if not just shaking down companies using software patents, earns plenty of puff pieces from the corporate media
THE notion that the greater the number of patents, the better — a notion so ludicrous that also fails to recognise the raison d’être of patents — is quite a disease. Some people would have us believe that because China created a patents production line in SIPO it's actually at a position of advantage. It’s false and it’s rather infantile to repeat such claims.
One new article, seemingly from an author who is not a fan of software patents (see the short part about it), says today that:
The best ratios I found (i.e., most patents per person) were in very rich Bedford, adjoining Manchester, and almost-as-rich Hollis, adjoining Nashua. Each town had slightly more than 2.7 patents per 1,000 people.
So keep that in mind when you hear people pointing to patent numbers as a reflection of the braininess of a community, state or country or a company or industry. Take it with a grain of salt.
It’s often just a reflection of which companies are based around that area. But some towns take it out of context and equate patents with innovation or wisdom. The above article came just shortly after a heap of IBM puff pieces. IBM, as our readers are probably aware of by now, bets its future and the whole farm — so to speak — on being more like a patent troll (patent enforcement and shakedown). It has already done that to Twitter, a much smaller company, and it keeps doing that to other Internet companies. “IBM scores a record 8,000 patents in 2016,” enthusiastically screams this headline from Dean Takahashi (or his editor), who just repeated the ‘official’ story as follows:
IBM has proven it is once again dominant in earning patents, as it closed the year with 8,088 U.S. patents granted to its investors in 2016. That’s the 24th consecutive year that the company has earned the most patents of any company.
The second-ranked company, Samsung, had 5,518 U.S. patents granted. About 2,700 of IBM’s 2016 patents covered inventions related to artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, and cloud computing. The patents covered a diverse range of technologies that also included cybersecurity and cognitive health.
We have compiled a list of nearly 20 ‘news’ articles [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17] about IBM claiming 8,000 so-called ‘inventions’ in a single year. Almost all these articles are from yesterday and they add no new information; they’re puff pieces void of any analysis. IBM got many of these patents probably by just calling old stuff “cloud” and “AI” (buzzwords). Is “AI” the new “on a machine”? And “cloud” the new “over the Internet”? When it comes to bamboozling patent examiners (so as to be granted software patents) there are all sorts of tricks, many of which boil down to semantics. IBM is nowadays firing a lot of employees, selling large portions of its physical products divisions to China (notably Lenovo). Is this the future of IBM then? Just ‘hiring’ patents, which it already uses to attack and extort far smaller companies? “Samsung Second & Google Fifth In 2016 Patent Race”, an Android news site said yesterday, so IBM isn’t alone among Linux-oriented firms when it comes to the patents gold rush. Samsung and Google, however, are not patent aggressors. Unlike the above IBM puff pieces, a writer in Fortune published “These Firms Won the Most Patents in 2016″ — a list that shows Microsoft falling down quite sharply. As a Microsoft propaganda site puts it, “Microsoft ranked 8th on the list of companies awarded with most patents in the US” (a lot lower than before).
Well, Microsoft is having issues. Software patents are getting more difficult to get, so it is not managing to keep up with patent filings. Financial issues are not helping either. In the coming years we expect IBM to become more and more like a patent troll whose actual products (if not jobs too) sailed away to China. █
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Hiding behind fronts, attack dogs, and interest groups
Summary: A potpourri of reports about some of the world’s worst patent trolls and their highly damaging enablers/facilitators, including Microsoft which claims that it “loves Linux” whilst attacking it with patents by proxy
THE ISSUE associated with patents as a ‘pure’ business model, or patent trolling, is widely understood. Imagine a world where people profit from making nothing at all, just demanding money from (if not blackmailing) companies that make actual sales and have a source of income/revenue, namely customers that buy products.
More patent trolls news came from the trolls-funded IAM the other day. “According to a December 29th release,” it quoted, ““Fortress will have the sole discretion to make any and all decisions relating to the company’s patents and patent monetisation activities.” Inventergy has around 740 patent assets acquired from Nokia, Huawei and Panasonic in a series of three separate deals in the first half of 2014.”
Here again we see Nokia as trolls’ ammunition, just like at MOSAID (now known as Conversant, which pays IAM’s publisher). Speaking of MOSAID, which Boris Teksler is involved in (hopping between Microsoft-connected trolls), see this new list from IAM. The Editor in Chief of IAM gives him (yet again!) some special honour, without noting that his employer paid IAM (under the new name, Conversant). So much publicity for an aggressive firm (actually a patent troll) from IAM… one might begin to think that it’s coverage that money simply buys. Conversant is such an evil patent troll (working for Microsoft’s interests now) that it had to change its name and now it’s trying to improve its reputation with some puff pieces? And from who, from IAM? Watch this latest IAM revisionism about Xiaomi (yet again!), maybe for the third time in the past month alone. We already explained that Microsoft was extorting Xiaomi with patents, but IAM tells a sanitised, face-saving PR story for Microsoft:
Xiaomi – Who says the IP deals market is flat? During 2016, Chinese mobile manufacturer Xiaomi – not yet 10 years old – seemed to be on a one company mission to prove that this is far from the case. In January it emerged that it had got its hands on a suite of Broadcom patents while a month later came the news that it had acquired a significant portfolio of US assets from Intel. Both deals, though, were eclipsed by the ground-breaking transaction with Microsoft announced at the end of May – a win-win for both that exemplified the way that IP is now forming the bedrock of much wider co-operative agreements between operating companies. While all this was happening. Xiaomi was also incorporating Zhigu Holdings into its internal operation – a move that saw the aggregator’s president and chief operating officer Paul Lin become Xiaomi’s VP of IP strategy. That could well prove to be a masterstroke, with Lin having gained a great deal of deal-making experience at both Intellectual Ventures and Microsoft while based in the US. Like many young Chinese technology businesses, Xiaomi is running a significant patent deficit; but unlike many of them it has recognised it needs to be aggressive in doing something about this. To expand, it will not only have to develop its own IP, but must continue to be active and creative in bringing it in form third parties. With Lin enjoying enlightened support from the very top of the company, Xiaomi is set to become an even bigger patent player in 2017.
Notice the connection between “Intellectual Ventures and Microsoft” (in the above text). It’s a strong and well established connection, which we have been covering for nearly a decade now. Microsoft uses the world’s largest patent troll, which it itself created/funded, to attack Linux. It’s a common tactic where the troll is mostly/only a proxy.
Similarly, as mentioned here the other day, Faraday Future throws its patents at some shell company and this new article from TechDirt looks deeper at the anatomy of it:
That’s all interesting… but what’s amazing is that in all of these discussions about how Faraday Future “doesn’t own its intellectual property” absolutely no one seems to point out the fact that the company that everyone compares it to, Tesla, famously dumped all its patents into the public domain and told anyone to go ahead and use them. That seems like a relevant point to make in articles about this upstart competitor and its “intellectual property.” Of course, it’s possible that the articles could mean something else when it says “intellectual property” — such as trademarks — but it seems unlikely that the trademarks for a flailing company that is unlikely to ever get anything on the market are that valuable.
The whole story, and the ignoring of Tesla’s stance on patents… is just strange. It is true that sometimes failing companies hang onto their patents as a sort of last ditch effort to extract some return for their investors in a patent fire sale. But if you’ve reached that point, things have already gone way too far south to really matter. Tesla has shown that it can build a pretty damn successful company without relying on “intellectual property.” It seems that people should stop freaking out that Faraday Future may have dumped its patents into some offshore company, and focus on the company’s real problems — like the fact that its execs are racing out the door as fast as possible.
Remember that Microsoft has its own patent “assertion” (trolling) department/entity (they call it “Licensing”) and several more large companies now do something similar. Sites like IAM just call that NPEs.
“For NPEs,” (i.e. trolls) Florian Müller explained the other day, “it’s often actually desirable to make litigation more, not less, expensive. Speed and injunctive relief attract them.”
Yes, this is a truthful statement and it helps demonstrate how to mitigate/tackle the trolling epidemic if there was sufficient desire, just like limiting trolls’ movement/travel. Currently, in the Eastern District of Texas, where defendants haven’t much confidence in winning (not cheaply anyway), trolls are making a killing.
East Asia is rapidly becoming the breeding ground for the trolling epidemic, as we noted here before. The above from IAM is just one example of it, as is the IAM article titled “The signs suggest that IP monetisation activity is on the rise in Southeast Asia, says A*STAR tech transfer chief” (“IP monetisation” is a euphemism for trolling). Another new article is titled “$130 million patent claim against Apple in Shenzhen shows NPEs in China increasingly strident”. It sure looks as if SIPO has turned China into a cesspool of patent trolls. Who benefits from this? A few parasites, not ordinary Chinese people. To quote IAM, “GPNE’s Chinese assertion appears to have begun back in 2013 in the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court. The court’s database shows four lawsuits against Apple and associated companies at the trial stage. According to a report in China’s National Business Daily, the most recent hearing was in late November 2016; the same article also states that Apple has made three separate attempts to invalidate the asserted patent at SIPO’s Patent Reexamination Board, with all of these complaints being dismissed on appeal.”
Poor patent quality at SIPO, just like at USPTO before it, emboldens patent trolls. IAM is siding with the trolls, as usual, also in the case of Nokia against Apple — a case which it belatedly covers (Nokia has become like a patent troll which merely licenses the brand).
Writing about patent trolls in general, Wolf Greenfield & Sacks PC bemoans what happens in the US. “Over the course of the last decade,” it says, “the U.S. Supreme Court has issued a series of decisions making it more difficult for so-called non-practicing entities (NPEs)—companies that own and enforce patents but do not offer products or services covered by them—to extract value from their patents. The Court may now be ready to take a step in the other direction by removing the equitable defense of laches against patentees’ past damages claims—up to six years of damages in many cases. Oral arguments were heard in the landmark case of SCA Hygiene Products Aktiebolag v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC on November 1, 2016, and a decision is expected later this term.”
“Patent Value” for patent trolls (ignore euphemisms like “NPEs”) is also mentioned in this article. We can’t help but feel like patent law firms — not just sites like IAM (which trolls are paying) — take the side of trolls. They don’t care about innovation, just litigation. They profit from that.
United for Patent Reform, a group that battles against patent trolls, wrote the other day that “Crowdfunding company @gustly won its case over a #PatentTroll after 2 years in court.” Here is part of the statement:
The patent lawsuit filed by AlphaCap claimed ownership over “online equity financing”. As with most other patent lawsuits, the case was brought in the Eastern District of Texas. This court is known as a patent troll haven and has benefitted economically from an assumed bias in favor of trolls.
So here again we have an example where legitimate companies are hit hard by trolls that make nothing at all, just lawsuits. “Wearable device company Fitbit has moved for termination of its ITC patent complaint against Jawbone, which is unhappy at suggestions about its financial stability,” MIP wrote the other day (a move which we covered in this older post of ours). As before, Fitbit makes shameless excuses, trying to portray itself as merciful after it attacked a rival, only to realise that its case is going nowhere fast and is only wasting its own (Fitbit’s) financial resources.
Fitbit, like many other companies, must have realised that certainty of winning patent cases has gone down. Moreover, Jawbone sued Fitbit in retaliation, causing quite a big (and expensive) headache to Fitbit. As Fitbit is not a patent troll (it has actual products that it sells) it’s not hard to sue it as well, thereby compelling it to reach a ‘ceasefire’.
Meanwhile, as even IAM cares to admit, litigation numbers are down sharply and patent trolls suffer a lot:
Unified Patents and RPX have both released their early numbers on new US patent litigation cases in 2016, confirming what we have known for some time: district court cases fell dramatically, with Unified putting the total number of filings at 4,382 – a drop of 24.8% year-on-year. That is the lowest volume of new cases since 2011 when the America Invents Act (AIA) came into effect and a change in joinder rules led to an immediate increase in the number of suits. According to Unified, disputes at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) saw a slight drop down to 1,723 from 1,793, although last year was still the second busiest on record.
The question now is whether the 2016 litigation drop was a blip or part of a longer-term trend. The last few years have seen sharp fluctuations in the number of cases with 2013, the busiest year on record, leading into a marked fall in 2014 as plaintiffs were seemingly turned off by the Supreme Court’s Alice decision and by the prospect of patent reform. So if that is repeated, we might expect to see the number of new cases rise again this year.
MIP takes into consideration an upcoming SCOTUS case (alluded to above), but it barely bothers to mention that this case would affect trolls the most. To quote what is not behind a paywall:
Natalie Rahhal speaks to former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel and others to assess the potential impact of In re TC Heartland at the US Supreme Court. One outcome could be a sharp fall in filing in the Eastern District of Texas and an increase in a potentially under-resourced District of Delaware
In re TC Heartland is already shaping up to be one of the most important patent cases in the US this year. The Supreme Court on December 14 granted cert in the case, which will give the court an opportunity to revisit the case law and statute governing forum selection in patent infringement suits.
We look forward to the outcome of this case because the Justices, probably well before Trump introduces new ones, are expected to serve a blow to patent trolls. Today’s Justices tend to be sceptical on issues pertaining to patents maximalism. █
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Scientists as judges, not just as pressured (from above) examiners
David Ruschke’s ‘official’ photo
Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), led by David Ruschke, continues to function as another ‘layer’ that ensures patent quality by weeding out bad patents and here are some of the latest cases
THE patents and litigation climate is rapidly changing in the US. It’s not just about software patents, but it has a lot to do with them as a lot of litigation emanates from such patents, notably troll litigation.
Just before the days of the holiday (whichever one) we learned about the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which is responsible for invalidating many software patents, being in the midst of this battle:
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board announced on Dec. 2 that it would uphold a patent filed by Securus Technologies, and that the challenge filed by rival company Global Tel*Link (GTL) was invalid. GTL maintains, however, that Securus only won a partial victory.
The patent (U. S. Patent No. 7,494,061 B2) that Securus maintains held up to the challenge from GTL, relates to biometric identity verification monitoring devices used in correctional facilities. According to a summary of the patent, “The term “biometrics” refers to technologies that measure and analyze human characteristics for authentication.”
This patent is a software patent by the sound of it. These are actually the sorts of patents which improperly use terms like “biometrics” to sound as though they’re anything but image analysis, which is my field of research (post-doctoral). It has nothing to do with biology and it’s all typically reducible to mathematics (matrices). Does the appeal board (PTAB) realise this? If not, maybe it’s time to reassess.
Another report, last Updated 6 days ago, is an article about appeals in Korea, published by Jay (Young-June) Yang, Duck Soon CHANG and Seung-Chan EOM from Kim & Chang (patent microcosm). Remember that Korea still blocks software patents (as it should) and we commend this decision, which guards software giants (also hardware giants, not to mention military equipment players) like Samsung and LG — both of which became Microsoft prey for using Linux nearly 9 years ago. We last reported on this 3 months ago (Microsoft wants more 'Linux patent tax' in Korea).
Going back to PTAB, there is a CAFC/PTAB case (CAFC having the authority to object) that MIP explained as follows: “The original Federal Circuit panel decision in the case – written by Judge Reyna and joined by Chief Judge Prost and Judge Stark – was issued on May 25. The court affirmed the Board’s denial of Aqua’s motion to substitute claims 22–24 of a patent concerning automated swimming pool cleaners.”
There is a 9-page PDF in there. As mentioned here some days ago, they are complaining because their patent was granted in error and now they want to change it. Imagine if granted patents were something dynamic you could just amend, edit, expand etc. as you go alone. What a ludicrous thing. Invalidate the patent and if they insist it’s not fair, then they should apply for the patent again (with amended claims).
MIP also explains how to use PTAB to squash bad patents (like software patents) even when it’s not so trivial. “Jim Brogan, Brian Eutermoser and Janna Fischer discuss the ways that the unsuccessful IPR petitioner at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board still can challenge validity in subsequent district court litigation,” MIP wrote.
MIP, to its credit, keeps abreast of PTAB cases (mostly because of Mr. Michael Loney), although it sometimes misinterprets the numbers it puts forth.
In better news about PTAB, here is PTAB having a go at software patents and getting a chance to kill them again. As PatentDocs put it:
Petitioner, iVenture Card Traveler Ltd, filed a Petition seeking to institute a covered business method patent review of all claims of U.S. Patent No. 7,765,128, owned by Smart Destinations, Inc. The Board, applying the standard that requires demonstration that more likely than not Petitioner would prevail with respect to at least one challenged claim, the Board granted Petitioner’s request to institute the CBM review.
We hope that PTAB will continue to do its job improving patent certainty by knocking out a lot of rubbish patents, leaving in tact only those that merit court cases (if any). █
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As we correctly predicted way back in 2011…
Nokia suing everyone… except Microsoft.
Summary: Few days before Christmas Nokia decides that the backlash from the media would be minimal enough to finally show its true colours and rear its ugly head again, putting a tax on phones that actually sell (unlike Nokia’s)
VERY LATE LAST NIGHT (as late as 2 AM) we wrote about a story which Nokia probably hoped the media would not notice/cover all that much (hence the timing/date in the year). Nokia is a patent troll now. “Meanwhile,” as this article puts it, “Apple has accused Nokia of using the ‘tactics of a patent troll’.” It’s not just about Apple as Nokia will go after Android OEMs next (if it hasn’t already).
It’s the ‘Microsoft effect’. The company likes turning other (usually vulnerable) companies into a pile of patents, weaponised against Microsoft’s rivals. There are many examples of that which we’ve covered here over the years.
“It’s the ‘Microsoft effect’. The company likes turning other (usually vulnerable) companies into a pile of patents, weaponised against Microsoft’s rivals.”We have already found about a hundred reports about this in English, in spite of Christmas absence of many reporters (even from large British publishers, US publishers and several people at IDG [1, 2]). The Finnish English-speaking media touches the subject and Wall Street media puts it behind a paywall. Tripp Mickle and Matthias Verbergt say that “Apple Inc. and Nokia Corp. filed competing lawsuits over intellectual property used in the iPhone and other Apple products.”
Worth seeing in this case is what Apple finds out about the network of trolls (typically shrouded in secrecy). With evidence admissible by the courts about the patent trolls of Nokia and Microsoft we can improve our information here (growingly extensive and occasionally praised by people who come here in order to understand cryptic trolls.). Florian Müller says “First court hearings in the new Nokia v. Apple dispute will most probably take place in Munich in a few months. I’ll probably go and listen.”
“We believe that the date of the press release was designed (or intended) to dodge negative press coverage.”He also quotes Apple’s spokesperson as saying that Nokia “is now using the tactics of a patent troll to attempt to extort money from Apple…”
He is “not mincing words anymore,” Müller adds, and someone from Finland agrees with him. Finns do not blindly support Nokia. We speak to some Finns who are extremely upset at Nokia. It’s a national embarrassment to some.
As for IAM, it thinks it’s favourable to have patent lawsuit from a troll-like Nokia, but it lacks a vital
disclosure; Nokia’s patent troll MOSAID (now called “Conversant”) has paid IAM, which recently did a lot of puff pieces for it. Maybe that’s just IAM’s business model…
IAM says “Apple is against patent owners doing what they want with their patents to maximise their value.”
Whose value? And to whose advantage? And at whose expense?
“Not sure how that helps R&D,” IAM says, but Benjamin Henrion has already responded to them by saying “that helps P&L [patents and litigation], not R&D.”
We believe that the date of the press release was designed (or intended) to dodge negative press coverage. █
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Scare tactics and vengefulness from the Patent Maximalists’ Lobby
Summary: The growing embrace of “China” as the convenient bogeyman for those who oppose patent reform and wish to see a resurgence of patent chaos, from which they personally profit at victims’ expense
THE USPTO may be in self-perpetuating denial about it, but software patents are a dying breed in the US as courts don’t tolerate them. The EPO, in the mean time, moves in the opposite direction, but we’ll leave the EPO out of this post’s scope.
Unhappy With Insufficient Number of Lawsuits and Collateral Damage
Paul Morinville, a prominent opposer of patent reform in the US (and part of Watchtroll’s ilk), whines that “PTAB procedures are now invalidating nearly 90% of all patents they evaluate.” Yes, so what? Alice and other cases are pretty clear about it and PTAB, unlike patent examiners, is not being pressured to just bless every patent in the name of “production” or “success” (again, a growing problem at today’s EPO).
Morinville picks on Google (large company as his latest scapegoat) and some of his online friends already heckle me for pointing that out. To quote his article: “Over the next decade, the Supreme Court would eliminate injunctive relief and then for all intents and purposes, invalidate their patents first under Bilski and then under Alice. The courts also changed the way claims were written, thus invalidating thousands of patents retroactively. The America Invents Act’s PTAB procedures are now invalidating nearly 90% of all patents they evaluate. The courts also radically reduced damages for patent infringement.”
That’s good. But wait until Morinville brings up the bogeyman again — the same bogeyman that David Kappos has been summoning recently.
Let’s Envy China
“With China strengthening its patent system,” Morinville says, in probably the most ludicrous part of the whole article. China is actually weakening patents by granting almost everything that comes through SIPO’s doors, causing a patent hyper-inflation and an epidemic of trolling. How is that desirable to anyone but the patent microcosm? These anti-AIA think tanks and lobbyists (like Morinville), who want more lawsuits and more litigation, continue to infest the Web and a lot of them congregate around Watchtroll these days. This pattern of China-blaming or China-shaming mirrors what the Democratic Party in the US has been doing with Russia as of late.
Watchtroll wants the USPTO and the courts to start another race to the bottom and give/approve patents on everything, just like SIPO in China. One might call it “the litigation lobby” — for all it want is more and more lawsuits (which the lobby profits from). Watch another new Watchtroll article, this time by Steve Brachmann, the henchman of Quinn. So people who don’t even develop anything insist that “China” is the threat and that “Chinese patent guidelines” are a threat to the US rather than to China itself.
What kind of post-truth nonsense have we sunk to here?
Watchtroll, in another new article, says “Keep it Cordial” while Quinn attacks everyone who does not agree with him, even judges (see the image at the top).
What a nasty Web site this is. For IBM’s patent chief to occasionally link to it probably takes some guts because it says a lot about IBM, which has gone rogue (even IBM employees now protest/object to the management over that infamous Trump fawning).
China’s Growing Trolls Epidemic
China’s situation with regards to patents is not good. As we have been pointing out since the summer, SIPO grants far too many patents, including software patents. “This is especially true for software patents where the scope of patent protection is rather vague,” says this new article from China, which also mentions Xiaomi, a company that got trolled through India, as we noted before. To quote the relevant part:
As Chinese smartphone brands work to carve out a spot in the major-league global smartphone industry, they are increasingly being dragged into an international patent war with foreign tech firms.
The latest case saw San Francisco-based audio tech firm Dolby Laboratories lodge a lawsuit against Chinese smartphone companies Oppo and Vivo in India, accusing them of infringing on its patented technology. Back in 2014, Chinese tech firm Xiaomi was barred from selling phones in India after Sweden-based Ericsson filed a complaint with an India court alleging patent infringement.
The Ericsson-Microsoft patent trolls strategy (using trolls as proxies) was mentioned here twice this month [1, 2] and Xiaomi is again being mentioned by the Microsoft Windows-powered IAM (with other Microsoft connections). It is again embellishing Microsoft's patent extortion against Linux as follows:
The May agreement between Microsoft and Xiaomi was undoubtedly the IP deal of the year and it was also an excellent example of how patents can play a role in broader commercial agreements. Under the terms of the deal, Xiaomi undertook to pre-load Microsoft products on to more of its mobile devices, the two sides agreed to a cross-licence and the US software giant transferred 1,500 patent assets to the Chinese company. The transaction provides an excellent foundation for Xiaomi as it looks to grow its business in the US and for Microsoft as it continues its penetration of the Chinese market.
This is misleading. All we have here is patent extortion by Microsoft against Linux, even in China where the government of China took a strong stance against it (even leaking a list of Microsoft patents that are secretly being sued to blackmail Chinese companies like ZTE). We believe that Huawei, the world’s leading Android OEM these days, is still able to resist Microsoft’s Mafia-like tactics. Microsoft repeatedly failed to sign a patent deal.
The bottom line is, China has become a dangerous place patents-wise. Is that desirable to anyone but the patent microcosm? Of course not. █
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A ‘master’ troll, Boris Teksler
Credit: Japanese media
Summary: Leadership shuffled in ever-changing (morphing) patent satellites that typically prey on Linux/Android
EARLIER THIS MONTH we wrote about patent trolls of Microsoft and Ericsson “trying to tax everything, especially Linux devices.”
Watch who’s in the news again after a rename, which is a common practice among notorious patent trolls that are a front for someone else (usually a large company). It’s Ericsson’s patent troll that already operates in Europe (London) as well, thanks to the EPO which repeats the USPTO‘s errors.
IAM is writing about this patent troll that paid IAM (without disclosure in the article). This is the second time in about a month (without disclosure) and the latest blog post says that “former boss of Unwired Planet, Boris Teksler, has been appointed the new CEO of Conversant, in a move that sees the Candian NPE’s current head John Lindgren step down after more than nine years in charge.”
Conversant is the new name of MOSAID, which Microsoft passed many of Nokia‘s patents to. We also wrote a great deal about Unwired Planet, back when it was known as Openwave. “Openwave has changed its name to Unwired Planet,” as Wikipedia puts it.
Speaking of Linux-hostile trolls, IAM writes about more of them today. To quote one relevant part:
Whether it’s Microsoft’s link-up with Xiaomi or Huawei’s surprising partnership with InterDigital, licensing deals with value-added components were the major theme of 2016.
InterDigital is an anti-Android troll (we have many articles about that) and Xiaomi did not have a “link-up” with Microsoft. It was more like patent extortion, as we explained at the time.
The shell game of patent trolls is extremely important to keep abreast of. Names keep changing; the same goes for Microsoft front groups that lobby on patent law, e.g. Association for Competitive Technology, which goes (and went) by several other names (ATL or stuff with “App” and “FRAND” in it). █
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