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02.19.18

Makan Delrahim is Wrong; Patents Are a Major Antitrust Problem, Sometimes Disguised Using Trolls Somewhere Like the Eastern District of Texas

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Patents at 1:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lobbyists are becoming officials under the Trump administration

Makan Delrahim
Reference: Wikipedia

Summary: Debates and open disagreements over the stance of the lobbyist who is the current United States Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division

ON SUNDAY, a day throughout which some patent blogs are still active (more on that later), Patently-O spoke again about the Department of Justice. “Delrahim explained his general position,” he recalled, “that patent holders rarely create antitrust concerns.”

This is a lie. It’s so much of a lie that even Patently-O disagrees. These remarks from Delrahim aren’t new and IAM already commented on these from a trolls’ perspective.

“This is a lie. It’s so much of a lie that even Patently-O disagrees.”It’s worth noting that Patently-O then alludes to right wingers (so-called ‘Conservatives’ or ‘Libertarians’) and lobbyists associated with the Kochs, as promoted recently by IAM (we wrote about this letter some days ago). To quote: “Sweeping in now to buffer Delrahim’s position are a group of libertarian scholars and others (including David Kappos and Judge Michel) who have offered their competing letter.”

To suggest that these patents don’t (or rarely) pose antitrust-type threats is ludicrous. Look how Microsoft blackmails the competition using patents. Cisco, which is a patent bully, is doing the same to a small rival nowadays. The financial press has just noted the devastating effect of these actions.

“So how can one be so blind to antitrust aspects? How can one overlook the fact that some large companies also use trolls to ‘punish’ their competition? It’s not too hard to see.”Japan/JPO, which we recently wrote about in relation to patents in standards, also seems to understand that patents are a barrier to fair competition in many cases. See this new blog post from Japan IP.

So how can one be so blind to antitrust aspects? How can one overlook the fact that some large companies also use trolls to ‘punish’ their competition? It’s not too hard to see. Some of them retreat to the Eastern District of Texas*. The trolls’ favourite courts facilitate that (“Flexuspine had sued Globus for infringing patents covering spinal implants in the Eastern District of Texas,” Finnegan noted the other day).
___________
* It rapidly changed after TC Heartland however; this upcoming webcast will speak about “[l]itigation Strategies against NPEs” (trolls) and “[v]enue after TC Heartland”. There’s also this new court decision regarding venue challenge (when an accuser drags you to a state you have nothing to do with because of mere allegation of patent infringement). To quote:

The court denied intervenors’ motions to sever and transfer plaintiff’s actions against them for improper venue because intervenors waived venue through their intervention.

Patent Trolls Watch: Microsoft-Connected Intellectual Ventures, Finjan, and Rumour of Technicolor-InterDigital Buyout

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Rumour at 12:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related (last year):

Technicolor logo

Summary: Connections between various patent trolls and some patent troll statistics which have been circulated lately

THE patent trolls epidemic is no longer just a US-centric epidemic; China is feeling it too, having tactlessly embraced patent maximalism (in itself an epidemic of the mind) like the USPTO did.

It’s not hard to tell what a patent troll is; it’s usually obvious if some entity has some services/products. Entities that are practicing have things to show. They advertise these as they attempt to make sales, transactions etc.

Well, days (or even less than days) after this promotional piece of his, Dr. Mark Summerfield softened the image of patent trolls by citing and quoting the world’s largest troll, Intellectual Ventures. It’s pretty obvious that Intellectual Ventures never had any products; it was never the intention. It’s not even a broker as its main activity is suing, usually via plenty of proxies. Intellectual Ventures is as evil as can be. But Summerfield’s piece isn’t whitewashing the troll; instead, it sheds lights on some statistics from Lex Machina:

Lex Machina’s analysis shows that since the commencement of the US patent law reforms introduced by the America Invents Act (AIA), rates of patent litigation have been in steady decline in real terms. Furthermore, while the list of top plaintiffs remains dominated by non-practising entities (NPEs), in 2017 two pharmaceutical companies entered the top ten, with two more filling out the top 15. And while headlines tend to be captured by a small number of very high awards of damages against big infringers, the reality for most plaintiffs is sobering. Just 11% of all cases terminated since 2000 reached a final judgment, with around three-quarters settling. While patentees are victorious slightly more often than defendants (around 60/40), compensatory damages are awarded in less than half of the cases won by plaintiffs, and for those cases in which ‘reasonable royalty’ damages were awarded during the three years up until the end of 2017, the median amount was just US$4.4 million – perhaps barely enough to justify litigation in a jurisdiction where the usual rule is that each party must bear its own costs of the proceedings.

We have been writing about trolls and documenting their actions for a very long time. For over a decade we’ve been pointing out that Intellectual Ventures works for Microsoft and Finjan, another troll, is backed by Microsoft. It’s even publicly-traded, albeit its stock tanked over the years (yesterday, however, financial media took interest in the stock [1, 2, 3). According to IAM, another publicly-traded troll may soon purchase another. As IAM has just put it: “InterDigital due to release its FY17 results on 22nd February. Will it also announce Technicolor purchase? https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/01/30/1314295/0/en/InterDigital-Announces-Date-for-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2017-Financial-Results.html [] Technicolor announced in December that it was in advanced stage of talks about a sale with an unnamed entity.”

We wrote a lot about both of these. Technicolor, unlike InterDigital, used to be an actual company rather than a troll. But now it seems like both of them are just trolls and one may soon collapse onto the other.

02.17.18

Microsoft Has Left RPX, But RPX Now Pays a Microsoft Patent Troll, Intellectual Ventures

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 9:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

RPXSummary: The patent/litigation arms race keeps getting a little more complicated, as the ‘arms’ are being passed around to new and old entities that do nothing but shake-downs

LAST month we wrote about RPX, which might soon be bought by trolls, paying extraordinary amounts of money to patent trolls, such as Acacia (Microsoft-connected troll).

“It bought a lot of patents from Intellectual Ventures, which is more or less a Microsoft proxy.”As it turns out, based on this blog post from yesterday, RPX also buys USPTO patents from Microsoft patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures. To quote:

RPX has acquired a tranche of patent assets from the Intellectual Ventures Invention Science Fund in what is the first such deal between the firms. So far two sets of rights have shown up on the USPTO assignment database — one for 35 granted patents and applications and another for 22 — and a spokesperson for RPX confirmed that 66 assets had changed hands in total.

[...]

RPX has done plenty of deals with NPEs such as Acacia and WiLAN in the past, but hasn’t bought any assets from IV. The pair did work together on the $525 million acquisition of the Kodak portfolio in 2012 which saw IV and a group of 12 licensees including Apple, Google and Samsung stump up much of the cash for the deal. Most of those patents are now held by Dominion Harbor and as more former IV assets end up in the courts we may see more acquisitions by RPX as it looks to mitigate patent risk for its clients.

Dominion Harbor is another troll to keep an eye on. It bought a lot of patents from Intellectual Ventures, which is more or less a Microsoft proxy. It’s like an arms trade.

02.16.18

Microsoft’s Patent Moves: Dominion Harbor, Intellectual Ventures, Intellectual Discovery, NEC and Uber

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 3:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trolls' harbour

Summary: A look at some of the latest moves and twists, as patents change hands and there are still signs of Microsoft’s ‘hidden hand’

THE theme of “patent trolls” — entities that do nothing but lawsuits and threats of lawsuits — is still a ‘thing’. Yes, the USPTO is aware of the problem and even the US Supreme Court uses the term “trolls”. Here in Europe the press rarely mentions the problem, which is being exacerbated by the EPO. Patent trolls are on the rise in Germany and London too has become a “hot destination” for trolls. Most vulnerable to these are SMEs, which are less capable of affording justice (legal process) and have less money to shell out for ‘protection’.

“Patent trolls are on the rise in Germany and London too has become a “hot destination” for trolls.”Thankfully, some of the trolling ‘sector’ is drifting eastwards to China. It’s not a good thing for China, but it seems to be a side effect of a misguided patent policy which attracted low-quality patents in large numbers. When one has low-quality patents in large numbers one can simply use the sheer amount of them — irrespective of underlying quality — to threaten ruinous litigation and thus extort money for settlements. This seems to be the business model of Dominion Harbor, which is a malicious patent troll that strongly dislikes me, worships other trolls, and associates with rather unpleasant people. IAM wrote the other day that “[a]fter purchase of 4,000 former Kodak patents from IV last year, Dominion is building quite a portfolio.”

IV is Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll, which came from Microsoft. “Proud to announce our latest acquisition,” the troll said. “Dominion Harbor Acquires Leading NEC LCD Portfolio with more than 1,200 assets…”

“Patent ‘aggregators’ such as these are of no worth unless they become trolls or pass their so-called ‘assets’ to trolls. That’s how Intellectual Ventures came into existence (buying lots of patents from universities and failed companies).”One can expect them to shake down companies using these patents. They’re just a patent troll, like Intellectual Ventures that they’re connected to. One can guess where they are based. Intellectual Discovery (ID) in the meantime — not to be mistaken for IV — has been a miserable failure so far. It’s a total waste of South Korea’s money and although it is not a troll itself, industry insiders worry that it may feed patent trolls sooner or later, causing damage to the South Korean economy. According to IAM, ID is in somewhat of a disarray (symptoms include leadership shuffles like in RPX, which might be sold to a troll). There are analogous entities and worries in India right now. Patent ‘aggregators’ such as these are of no worth unless they become trolls or pass their so-called ‘assets’ to trolls. That’s how Intellectual Ventures came into existence (buying lots of patents from universities and failed companies).

Speaking of NEC patents (which the above troll just bought), a former IAM writer said: “There may be a Foxconn link to this. NEC transferred a whole bunch of mostly display-related patents to Gold Charm in 2012… [] Foxconn subsidiary Gold Charm bought the patents for $122m. Later asserted some against Funai, Mitsubishi, & Toshiba. Not heard much about them since…”

“Historically, many entities Microsoft passes patents to turn out to be attacking GNU/Linux.”As a bonus, mind this new report from the Microsoft-connected patent troll Acacia. It’s now resorting to buybacks, which is never a good sign. Are shareholders walking away? IV too has suffered a lot (lost many software patents, lawsuits and managers, not to mention the massive rounds of layoffs). Based on yesterday’s blog post from IAM, Microsoft now passes patents to Uber (just like it passes them to patent trolls quite a lot), which is itself suffering record losses. To quote the relevant paragraphs:

According to the USPTO assignment database, Uber has most recently picked up a package of 17 assets from Microsoft. That follows a 2015 deal between the two companies which saw Uber pick up some IP as part of a broader business agreement.

The acquisition from Microsoft followed another deal between Uber and AT&T for 13 assets – the third significant acquisition that the ride-sharing giant has made from the telecoms giant with the company picking up well over 100 assets.

Although as the 2015 Microsoft deal shows that Uber’s IP head John Mulgrew has been focused on bolstering the company’s patent position for a while, the focus on building up its portfolio in the secondary market has intensified since the hire of former Google and Motorola IP executive Kurt Brasch in September 2016. Mulgrew is understood to have led on the most recent deal with Microsoft along with Uber IP lawyer Rakesh Michael.

We are going to keep an eye on what happens next. Historically, many entities Microsoft passes patents to turn out to be attacking GNU/Linux. It’s shallow enough for us to notice, yet the corporate media altogether ignores this and carries on with PR (like “Microsoft loves Linux”).

02.15.18

IBM is Getting Desperate and Now Suing Microsoft Over Lost Staff, Not Just Suing Everyone Using Patents

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 2:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Famed Journalist Dan Gillmor Calls IBM the Inventor of Patent Trolling

Ginni Rometty

Summary: IBM’s policy when it comes to patents, not to mention its alignment with patent extremists, gives room for thought if not deep concern; the company rapidly becomes more and more like a troll

THE DAYS of IBM as a friend of developers are long gone. About a decade ago we were supportive of IBM for all sorts of reasons, including OpenDocument Format (ODF). But nowadays IBM is a patent bully which lobbies for software patents, just like Microsoft. Simply because IBM is “not Microsoft” (the same goes for Apple) does not imply that it’s benign or even desirable.

“…nowadays IBM is a patent bully which lobbies for software patents, just like Microsoft.”Our previous post was about Microsoft's patent bullying. It’s something it has in common with IBM and its battles over software patents (albeit on the defensive side) are being brought up this week (quotes from Enfish, LLC v Microsoft, a decision which was used a lot last year as an argument for software patents).

From one lobbyist of software patents (and patent thug) to another jumps Ms McIntyre. According to this report from this week: “In a motion filed today, McIntyre says IBM has no evidence she has or will misappropriate any IBM information and that the company is covered by an ongoing NDA. She also says she informed IBM of the Microsoft job offer in January, which was when she was terminated.”

“He’s linking to Watchtroll, as usual, and when he speaks of “improving the US patent system” he means facilitating patent blackmail by the likes of IBM.”IBM just shows how desperate it has become. How long before IBM has more lawyers than actual engineers?

What has IBM been reduced to? Watch this tweet from IBM’s Manny Schecter (the patent chief). It’s embarrassing. He’s linking to Watchtroll, as usual, and when he speaks of “improving the US patent system” he means facilitating patent blackmail by the likes of IBM. How convenient. He said: “Former Patent Commish Stoll describes tough sledding ahead for new Director Iancu in improving the US #patent system: What should USPTO Director Andrei Iancu do first?”

IBM is already lobbying through Mr. Kappos, a former IBM employee whom we wrote about last night. Iancu should watch out because Watchtroll and Schecter are trying to manipulate him rather than help him. So does Stoll, who was supposed to ‘retire’ 7 years ago.

“IBM is already lobbying through Mr. Kappos, a former IBM employee whom we wrote about last night. Iancu should watch out because Watchtroll and Schecter are trying to manipulate him rather than help him.”Schecter seems to be feeling some heat. He has just said: “Must be doing something right when both extreme pro-patent pundits and extreme anti-patent pundits are concerned about my views…”

“Patent policies of companies (or people who manage these policies) matter depending on the context,” I told him. The very fact is, IBM’s patent policies come to a large degree from him and his association with “extreme pro-patent pundits” (his words) like Watchtroll does him no favour.

Watch this reply which insinuates Schecter is doing “something wrong.”

“To intelligent people,” he said, “labeling and demonizing critics is a red flag that the merits of one’s ideology are questionable. Stick to the merits.”

“We worry that sooner or later there will be nothing left of IBM other than a pile of patents and a long list of pending lawsuits.”Earlier this week, IBM’s friends at Watchtroll (extremists like Paul Morinville) did their usual shaming of patent reform and more of that China bashing (never mind if IBM sells a lot of its business to Chinese firms such as Lenovo).

We worry that sooner or later there will be nothing left of IBM other than a pile of patents and a long list of pending lawsuits. It’s then that IBM formally becomes a patent troll.

In Microsoft’s Lawsuit Against Corel the Only Winner is the Lawyers

Posted in Corel, Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also in the news today: The Last Of The MPEG-2 Patents Have Expired

MPEG MP3 Player

Summary: The outcome of the old Microsoft v Corel lawsuit reaffirms a trend; companies with deep pockets harass their competitors, knowing that the legal bills are more cumbersome to the defendants; there’s a similar example today in Cisco v Arista Networks

THE Microsoft/Corel affairs have been covered here for over a decade. We have an entire category dedicated to that (mostly history, antitrust, and patent litigation).

“Microsoft — being the patent thug that it is — bullied Corel, possibly hoping to bury this former ‘ally’ once and for all.”Several days ago, in connection to Microsoft’s lawsuit, we saw a couple of updates, one from Law 360 and another from Watchtroll (there’s probably a lot more out there by now). It’s about software patents from the USPTO. Microsoft — being the patent thug that it is — bullied Corel, possibly hoping to bury this former ‘ally’ once and for all.

As Law 360 put it:

A California federal jury declined Microsoft’s request for more than $1 million and awarded it just $278,000 Tuesday in a suit over Corel Corp.’s infringement of patents related to its Office software, finding Corel had willfully infringed nine patents but hadn’t learned of the infringement until Microsoft sued.

Watchtroll said:

Microsoft argued that Corel willfully infringed the ’828, ’036, ’237, ’140, ’532, and ’865 patents. The asserted Microsoft patents are directed to graphic user interfaces used in Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Office. Microsoft asserted that it has given its interfaces, including menus and toolbars, a distinctive look and feel, which Corel copied into the accused products, including WordPerfect X7. WordPerfect X7 even includes an option to use the product in the “Microsoft Word mode.”

It’s hardly a win for Microsoft. But it’s even more of a loss for Corel, whose pockets aren’t as deep as Microsoft’s. As one person put it, “$MSFT probably paid $5M in attorney’s fees and other expenses to get that $280K award.”

“It’s hardly a win for Microsoft. But it’s even more of a loss for Corel, whose pockets aren’t as deep as Microsoft’s.”So, in effect, Microsoft loses the case and only lawyers won. Corel is the party which suffers more because the legal fees are greater in relative terms.

What we see here is a large company crushing a small one in court; it has become so typical. Over the past couple of years we wrote a lot about Cisco’s patent battles against Arista Networks. These battles profoundly rattled the latter’s stock in spite of its innocence. ITC imposed sanctions in spite of PTAB’s ruling and today we learn that the “Fed. Cir. Affirmed PTAB’s Invalidation of a Cisco Patent Asserted Against Arista Networks: https://dlbjbjzgnk95t.cloudfront.net/1012000/1012522/cisco%20brief.pdf …”

“Will ITC officials (quite frankly as usual) facilitate the much larger company’s bullying of a smaller rival that’s formally deemed innocent?”It remains to be seen what happens next; will ITC honour this now, for a change? Will ITC officials (quite frankly as usual) facilitate the much larger company’s bullying of a smaller rival that’s formally deemed innocent?

Last but not least, let’s ask ourselves who benefits the most from such SLAPP-esque actions which use patents rather than the classic copyright SLAPP (like Playboy’s lawsuit against BoingBoing — a lawsuit which has just been thrown out, albeit at great expense to BoingBoing, a relatively cash-strapped site which needed to hire lawyers).

02.13.18

Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls, Xerox, and Andrei Iancu

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 4:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One irrelevant company bought another (Fuji and Xerox)

Films

Summary: A roundup of news pertaining to Microsoft-connected entities and their patent activity this month; Director Iancu is only loosely connected to one of them (he fought against it)

THE Finjan troll, a Microsoft-sponsored patent troll, has probably received the most press coverage so far this year (among trolls). Its software patents, which had been granted by the USPTO, were mostly thrown away but a single one managed to withstand scrutiny at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC).

Finnegan, a very large law firm, still props up this case in order to promote the software patents agenda. They are habitually trying to make one single patent seem like a boon of some kind, neglecting to account for the many patents which actually got invalidated. To quote:

In Finjan, Inc. v. Blue Coat Systems, Inc., No. 2016-2520 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 10, 2018), the Federal Circuit reviewed Finjan’s assertion of two patents related to methods for protecting against malware. The Court (1) affirmed the finding that U.S. Patent No. 6,154,844 (“the ’844 patent”) was patentable under 35 U.S.C. § 101, (2) reversed the district court’s denial of JMOL of non-infringement as to U.S. Patent No. 6,965,968 (“the ’968 patent”), (3) vacated the damages award of the ’968 patent, and (4) remanded the ’844 patent’s damage award, finding that the district court failed to appropriate damages to the infringing functionality.

By this month’s end, based on a new press release, Finjan will have extorted/blackmailed yet another Microsoft rival. A patent troll’s Web site copied the release which says: “Finjan Holdings (FNJN), Inc. (NASDAQ:FNJN), a cybersecurity company, and its subsidiary Finjan, Inc. (“Finjan”), today announced that Finjan’s patent infringement retrial against Blue Coat Systems (BCSI), Inc. (5:15-cv-03295-BLF, “Blue Coat II”), set to start on February 12, 2018, has been vacated. Finjan and Blue Coat’s parent, Symantec Corporation (collectively “Symantec”), have entered into a confidential term sheet. Finjan expects that a definitive agreement will be finalized by no later than February 28, 2018.”

AST, which is connected to Microsoft as well, was mentioned earlier today in relation to the acquisition of some more patents. To quote:

Participants in IP3 2017 included 15 operating companies including Google, IBM, Microsoft, Ford, Honda, and Cisco with nearly $2.5 million spent to acquire 70 active assets.

[...]

More than half of the purchased lots related to Communications technologies. There was an average of 3.68 assets per patent family, with 8 lots having a single U.S. patent, and 5 lots having two U.S. filings.

As a reminder, sometimes we find Xerox feeding trolls that are connected to Microsoft and attack Linux. Such was the case with Acacia a decade ago. It’s also worth remembering that Microsoft historically helped fund ‘IP’ lawsuits against Linux (SCO for instance) and this new case is relevant to it because it helps hide sponsors:

The court overruled plaintiff’s objection to the special master’s order granting in part defendants’ motion to compel the production of documents plaintiff provided to a third party as part of a litigation financing agreement that plaintiff withheld under the common interest doctrine.

There was recently a Xerox takeover (by Fuji) and it’s worth noting that based on this Japanese site, Xerox now “rolls out patent licensing business to SMEs” (just the typical old fairy tale). To quote:

In Japan, a business model for large companies to license their unused patents to SMEs to help such SMEs develop new products or create new business is getting a lot attention lately. Fuji Xerox has been participating in intellectual property business matching between SMEs and large companies since 2016 which is a local government project. Now it has signed a patent license agreement with a company in Yokohama, and made this announcement. This is the first success case in the IP business matching for Fuji Xerox.

Last but not least, Inventors Digest has just noted that the Director of the patent office used to work against Xerox. This article is correct in stating that Director Iancu was on both sides of PTAB disputes. To quote:

Andrei Iancu’s full-Senate confirmation on Feb. 5 as the new director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office marks a new direction during a turbulent time for inventor rights.

The former managing partner at Irell & Manella, a law firm based in the Los Angeles area, succeeds embattled predecessor Michelle Lee. Lee was a supporter of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative law body of the USPTO that decides issues of patentability. She resigned last June.

The PTAB is currently under fire for inter partes review, a trial proceeding that many say has eroded patent rights. It is expected that by June the U.S. Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of inter partes review via a ruling in the case Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC.

It isn’t immediately known where Iancu stands on the PTAB and inter partes review. What we know is that he has experience on both sides of IP disputes.

Iancu defended Hewlett–Packard from claims by Xerox that it infringed on a printing technology patent…

Xerox was, by that stage, barely making anything. Does Iancu understand the nature of such entities, which serve nothing but lawsuits and patents?

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.

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