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12.06.16

More Examples of Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Taxing Linux, Even After Microsoft ‘Joined’ (Paid) the Linux Foundation

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 9:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent deal spin
“Agreements” mean patent settlements

Summary: A quick look at the past week’s news and clues about Microsoft’s (and its broad army of patent trolls) strategy for taxing Linux, or imposing bundling at zero cost (to Microsoft)

THE STATE of patent trolling in the US is pretty bad and to make matters worse China is now emulating the US system by patenting almost everything and harbouring patent trolls that use rubbish patents (not even with their own name on these).

One aggregator of patents (lots of rubbish in one big pool) that we wrote about before is RPX. It’s like a massive patent troll whose members include Microsoft. According to this blog post from IAM, changes are afoot as a Senior Vice-President jumps ship:

Dan McCurdy, senior vice-president at RPX with responsibility for data and technology solutions, is to leave the defensive patent aggregator to become a partner with strategic IP consultancy Quatela Lynch. He will join on 1st January 2017, when its name will also change to Quatela Lynch McCurdy. The move comes just weeks after Laura Quatela, who founded the firm with former Kodak chief IP officer Tim Lynch in 2014, was named as the new chief legal officer of Lenovo, sitting on the executive committee and reporting directly to its CEO. Quatela will remain the majority shareholder of Quatela Lynch McCurdy and will act as a special adviser to the firm on non-conflicting projects.

It is meanwhile worth reminding readers that Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s biggest patent troll (with thousands of satellite firms of its own), is imploding, however this extortion and gate-keeping tool, which habitually attacks Linux, still plays a role of in the operations of Linux-based devices (which it taxes).

See this new article that says “a new intellectual property agreement gives Netflix the opportunity to license TiVo’s patent portfolios, as well as patents for over-the-top (OTT) offerings, which are held by Intellectual Ventures.”

How much of that money flows into the pockets of Microsoft and Bill Gates (a stakeholder in the troll at a personal capacity)? It’s hard to tell, but as we noted here before, Microsoft loves Linux patent tax. With China going crazy over patents, Microsoft recently managed to blackmail Xiaomi over its Linux products (we believe that only Huawei remains untainted by this Microsoft tax) and looking into Microsoft’s patent settlement with Xiaomi (they don’t call it a “settlement”, but it is one), IAM writes:

In the opening plenary of the day, featuring Xiaomi’s Paul Lin and Microsoft’s Micky Minhas, the ground-breaking deal announced in May between the two companies was, not surprisingly, the first topic for discussion. IP was a major driver of the agreement, as the Chinese smartphone maker acquired 1,500 patents from the software giant; but the transaction was premised on a much broader collaboration between the pair, with Microsoft applications now set to be included on Xiaomi mobile devices. Minhas, recently appointed as Microsoft’s head of licensing, revealed that the deal had taken a year to unfold after a senior Xiaomi executive had expressed the Chinese’s company’s desire to grow its IP portfolio. He added that one of the key drivers in making it all happen was the relationship between some of the key executives involved in the negotiations. Minhas, Microsoft head of business development Peggy Johnson and Xiaomi’s head of strategic cooperation Wang Xiang, all previously worked at Qualcomm, so there was a level of familiarity; while a face to face meeting between the respective company CEOs in March 2016 largely resolved outstanding issues and advanced the negotiation to the point where it became a matter of getting the contractual terms refined. But what really mattered more than anything, it seems, is that both companies had taken the time to understand each other’s perspectives and needs, and that both were fully focused on finding a win-win outcome. Goodwill, rather than good friendships, are the key to successful IP deal-making. Though, of course, it also helps to get along.

The part about “Microsoft applications now set to be included on Xiaomi mobile devices,” as we explained early in the year, is where patent extortion against Linux comes into play. The ‘new’ Microsoft just tries hard to hide what it does, either attacking Linux through trolls or compelling OEMs to ‘pay’ Microsoft for Linux/Android by shoving Microsoft malware into them (sucking up user data and sending it to Microsoft, never mind vendor lock-in through proprietary formats and code).

Don’t believe Microsoft’s claims that it has changed or that it “loves Linux”. It’s still the same old malicious company. It just learned how to lie/mislead better.

Quite a few GNU/Linux firms and even the Linux Foundation are now being paid by Microsoft (like silence money), so don’t expect them to speak out against this injustice.

12.05.16

Microsoft’s Push for Software Patents Another Reminder That There is No ‘New’ Microsoft

Posted in GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 2:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft post-Alice

Summary: Microsoft’s continued fascination with and participation in the effort to undermine Alice so as to make software patents, which the company uses to blackmail GNU/Linux vendors, widely acceptable and applicable again

OUR longest article yesterday focused on poor advice — either deliberately bad advice or simply influenced by the echo chamber — regarding software patents. The patent microcosm is in growing denial over US courts invalidating software patents granted by the USPTO using Alice, or even patents invalided by PTAB (in much larger numbers).

Some days ago we saw this report from the 2016 International Women’s Leadership Forum, courtesy of patent maximalists.

As can be expected, it was somewhat of an echo chamber not in the gender sense but in the agenda sense. Microsoft was there too and here is the relevant part:

The first practical step, said Julie Kane Akhter of Microsoft, is to learn from cases where the patent has been upheld, such as Enfish, Bascom and Planet Blue.

“In the Enfish patent, for example, they were actually improving the operation of the computer itself,” she stressed. Lessons from the Enfish decision included: the specification was really important; consider identifying the technical problem in the specification; and avoid being too high level in the claims.

She said Enfish provides several practical strategies for applicants: utilise the interview; talk about the technical improvement; and cite Enfish! Lessons from Bascom are: consider discussing prior solutions and their drawbacks; highlight lack of preemption; and keep drafting software applications! And tips from Planet Blue are: argue the examiner has determined the idea in the claims at too high a level; argue the claim is specific enough and improves the technology; and draft claims with realistic scope and technical effect.

For those who forgot or have not been paying attention, Enfish ended up as a pro-software patents caselaw and Microsoft pays David Kappos, former Director of the USPTO, to lobby along those lines. He keeps trying to eliminate Alice (a Supreme Court case) as caselaw. Various patent law firms too still lick their lips over software patents and try to undermine Alice, hoping to ‘rewrite’ it with lower-level cases such as Enfish or Bascom.

On November 30th Dennis Crouch wrote about Microsoft v Enfish (not the other way around), nothing that it “Turns Out the Claims Are Obvious”. This is a PTAB case:

After instituting review, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found some of the patent claims invalid as anticipated/obvious. On appeal, PTAB factual findings are generally given deference but legal conclusions are reviewed without deference. After reviewing the claim construction and rejections, the Federal Circuit affirmed in a non-precedential decision.

It’s no secret that Microsoft’s software patents are rubbish; their low quality was the subject of many old articles here. Moreover, the company’s selective and hypocritical views on software patents were noted here way back in the i4i days. In another new article by Dennis Crouch he says that “PTAB judges are so well trained in the complexity of technology and patent law,” which is probably something that most patent courts lack.

“It’s no secret that Microsoft’s software patents are rubbish; their low quality was the subject of many old articles here.”Microsoft is still promoting software patents and in the words of MIP: “Great first panel at #ipwomen Forum discussing practical steps for software patents post-Alice & overcoming S101 objections @MicrosoftIP pic.twitter.com/cGWe9qrGPh” (Microsoft hates Linux too, except when it taxes it with patents, in which case it’s more tolerable to “MicrosoftIP”, the troll entity of the corporation). The people who covertly extort and blackmail Linux on behalf of Microsoft — all this while shaping patent law for the company’s bottom line — are also mentioned here. To quote: “It’s the @MicrosoftIP networking break at the #ipwomen Forum. Time to make some new contacts! pic.twitter.com/YwajQuWadV”

To be fair, Microsoft is part of a broader movement here. But it’s role is notable. Microsoft is a key player in this.

The following crossposted article [1, 2], for instance, tries to leave Alice behind. Another crossposted article [1, 2], this one titled “No Abstract Idea Where Invention Cannot be “Practiced in the Abstract”,” is also composed by the patent microcosm and the aim is similar. All the above entities generally wish to restore the patentability of software in the US. Also see the new article titled “The Current State of Computer Software Patentability” (behind paywall). What they all have in common is dissatisfaction with the new status quo — one wherein software is barely patent-eligible, or at least barely defensible in the patent sense in the courts. Patent lawyers pretend to care for inventors, but they just want to undermine Alice to patent software without barriers. See this article of one law firm; what they mean by “weather” does not take into account the risk of one getting sued but the chance of one to obtain a patent. Very one-sided a take, as usual. Software developers should stop patenting software as it’s a waste of time/money, even if such patents can sometimes be granted (only to be lost after a long and expensive legal battles). New PTAB cases on patents, such as this one [1, 2] (on reasonable diligence), remind us that sometimes patents will be invalidated even before they reach the court, i.e. even without the patent holders choosing to assert these offensively. Is is worth the risk? Patent lawyers can brag about “privilege” all they want (see new examples [1, 2]), but all they are after is a universal tax on software, extracted from patents nobody needs or wants. In the case of Free software such as Linux, this tax prevents redistribution, so it is inherently incompatible and antithetical.

“Has CCIA flipped sides again, as it previously did after Microsoft had paid it millions of dollars?”Much to our surprise, Matt Levy (CCIA) has decided to give articles to pro-software patents sites — a departure from his usual tune. He gives false hope to software patents hopefuls like Watchtroll readers and also IAM readers. Has CCIA flipped sides again, as it previously did after Microsoft had paid it millions of dollars?

12.04.16

Patent Trolls of Microsoft and Ericsson Are Trying to Tax Everything, Especially Linux Devices

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 3:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A bat

Summary: An update on Intellectual Ventures and Unwired Planet, whose operations pose a growing problem for Free software and Linux-based products (e.g. Android)

Patent trolls, as we noted in the previous post, are a growing problem in China and UPC in Europe can also make them a growing problem in Europe, basically emulating the mistakes of the USPTO.

“”Working with” as IAM refers to it basically means agreeing to cooperate with an extortionist.”IP Watch, speaking to LOT Network’s Ken Seddon, mentioned the problems associated with trolls on the first of the month, taking stock of the type of trolls that FTC spoke about (against) a couple of months ago. To quote: “Patent assertion entity (PAE) activity has skyrocketed in the past decade and much discussion has occurred around what to do in response to patent holders whose strategy is more focused on legal battles than innovating. One notable group has risen up to bring together global companies to address the PAE issue with a novel sharing approach. In an interview with Intellectual Property Watch, Ken Seddon, CEO and President of LOT Network, talks about the group’s rapid growth, what’s coming next, and how not to bring a squirt gun to a nuclear fight. ”

In our previous post we showed that Intellectual Ventures had expanded in China. Well, IAM continues to groom this troll, the world’s largest patent troll, which is Microsoft’s patent troll. See this promotional article and another new article which euphemistically calls patent extortion “NPEs” “monetisation”. “Working with” as IAM refers to it basically means agreeing to cooperate with an extortionist. IAM makes patent trolls look so benign that it’s appalling if not disgusting. That’s what happens when the patent trolls pay IAM…

“IAM makes patent trolls look so benign that it’s appalling if not disgusting. That’s what happens when the patent trolls pay IAM…”In other news, a network of sites published an article titled “How Big Law and Big Banks Took the Fight to Intellectual Ventures” [1,2], reminding us that Intellectual Ventures is very malicious and parasitic.

Speaking of Microsoft’s biggest patent troll, watch what Microsoft does with Nokia‘s patents other than extorting Android OEMs and passing patents to patent trolls like those that fund IAM. To quote the new article: “Under the terms of the agreement, HMD got exclusive rights to use the Nokia brand on mobile phones and tablets globally (except Japan) for the next 10 years, standard essential cellular patent licenses, software for feature phones…”

Those “standard essential cellular patent licenses” are among the reasons Microsoft ‘stole’ Nokia and now taxes a lot of the mobile industry using patents, even without selling any phones of its own. Not only Nokia’s patents serve to accomplish this goal. Ericsson’s patents too have been weaponised and Ericsson essentially created patent trolls that even operate in Europe (London).

“Ericsson’s patents too have been weaponised and Ericsson essentially created patent trolls that even operate in Europe (London).”Recently, Ericsson’s most prominent patent troll (Unwired Planet) did some damage even to PTAB, which has been responsible for intercepting a great number of software patents in the US. We wrote quite a lot about it last weekend and for those who don’t remember, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) ruled to weaken PTAB. More coverage on CAFC coming out in favour of this patent troll of Ericsson — and indirectly against PTAB scope of operation — came from legal-centric sites [1, 2] at the beginning of last week.

Here in Europe, there may be some good news as Florian Müller, who used to promote/defend FRAND back in the days (it’s similar or related to standard essential patents), says that Germany pushes back against FRAND, citing antitrust reasons. To quote:

There was a time when I spent most Fridays–and occasionally also a Tuesday–in Mannheim (and on trains from Munich to Mannheim and back) to watch numerous smartphone patent trials. After coming to terms with a prohibition on making Internet connections from the courtroom (which prevented me from live-tweeting about the proceedings), I generally enjoyed my visits. I admired the depth of the judges’ technical understanding and their effective trial management (authoritative, but not authoritarian; highly facts-focused, but with a great sense of humor that I know other trial watchers also appreciated). There are, however, two notable exceptions from my fond memories: the incredibly dry air in the courtrooms and, more than anything else, the Mannheim judges’ take on what the obligation to license standard-essential patents on FRAND terms should mean for patent infringement remedies.

We certainly hope that these congregations of trolls, including those that try to tax every phone running Android, will be pushed back by courts. What we have here is a network of few large companies operating through patent trolls (i.e. resistant to lawsuits themselves), hoping to tax everything and everyone. Nobody benefits, except few rich people at the top.

11.22.16

Microsoft Loves Linux Patent Tax

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 12:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wanting to eat Linux (and Linux revenue) for breakfast…

Breakfast of love

Summary: Some of the latest reports pertaining to Microsoft’s (and its patent trolls’) pursuit/lobbying for software patents at a time when such patents lose their appeal/lustre in the United States

SOFTWARE PATENTS are still possible to attain at the USPTO, but this does not mean — and is certainly no guarantee — that courts or even boards (like PTAB) will tolerate these. In fact, both often reject these and this reduces the incentive to pursue software patents in the first place.

“They want software patents restored so that they can carry on blackmailing software companies (usually with Linux/Android) at greater ease.”Watchtroll offers tips for overcoming the barriers to software patenting, having come to grips with the fact that at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) almost no software patents survive (one can count this year’s exceptions on the fingers of one hand).

As noted here the other day, based on two reports, Microsoft and its trolls continue trying to undermine the new rules. They want software patents restored so that they can carry on blackmailing software companies (usually with Linux/Android) at greater ease. According to this new report about Microsoft’s biggest troll:

Earlier this week, Intellectual Ventures (IV) petitioned the full Federal Circuit to review the panel opinion in Intellectual Ventures v. Symantec, which invalidated two of its patents under section 101. Both patents—the ’050 and the ’610—are directed to filtering email or file content. (IV does not challenge the invalidation of a third patent, which was directed to receiving, screening, and distributing email.) The petition echoes concerns raised by clients, courts, and the patent bar about the growing uncertainty about what is—and what is not—patent eligible, especially in the area of software patents. Identifying two emerging fault lines in the court’s evolving section 101 jurisprudence, IV urges the full court to bring much needed doctrinal clarity and methodological consistency to the patent eligibility analysis.

It’s important to keep track of this case.

Microsoft’s and Bill Gates’ (personal connections) patent troll now pressures CAFC to kowtow to software patents while the media keeps telling us that Microsoft loves Linux so much. We don’t suppose the Linux Foundation cares to comment on Microsoft’s own lobbying for software patents (directly, not just by proxy). It’s an Inconvenient truth when the Linux Foundation gets paid not to understand, having received Microsoft money for a while now [1, 2, 3]. Here is what Simon Phipps (head of OSI for a long time) wrote about the Linux Foundation’s decision to join Microsoft the other day:

“Microsoft’s and Bill Gates’ (personal connections) patent troll now pressures CAFC to kowtow to software patents while the media keeps telling us that Microsoft loves Linux so much.”Another odd ‘friend’ of Linux, a company that is attacking small companies using software patents while lobbying for software patents and spreading proprietary software, is mentioned in the news today. IBM’s Manny Schecter is trying to find some balance between secrecy and software patents and we sure hope that he’ll quit his stance on software patents as it often makes IBM look almost as hostile as Microsoft.

‘“Other than Bill Gates, I don’t know of any high tech CEO that sits down to review the company’s IP portfolio” —Marshall Phelps (of IBM and Microsoft)

11.19.16

Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Continue to Lobby for Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 3:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments”…”

Matt Asay, April 21st, 2008

Summary: In order to maintain the order of “Linux patent tax” Microsoft and its proxies (patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures) keep pursuing patent policy that is friendly towards software patenting

A FEW days ago we became aware of the Microsoft-friendly IAM with its latest/upcoming event (as usual, with patent maximalists as sponsors). It is an IAM event, so basically IAM agenda, including software patents promotion. They are hoping to shape patent policy (see “Programme”) and as Benjamin Henrion put it, it is “Microsoft and others writing swpat [software patents] law: “Key topics for legislators to consider: a solution for 101 uncertainty”…”

“As a reminder, earlier this year software patents from Intellectual Ventures were aimed at Linux devices (in the courtroom) and recently a failed case of Intellectual Ventures led to the potential death of all software patents in the US.”Longtime readers of ours probably don’t need to be convinced that Microsoft is still an enemy of GNU/Linux, at the very least by virtue of promoting software patents (there’s a lot more than that). Sites like Phoronix may have fallen in line with the “LOVES LINUX” nonsense (a PR campaign), but judging by the company’s actions — not mere words — it is still a vicious opponent that cannot be trusted.

The largest patent troll of Microsoft (which attacks Linux with software patents) still fights for software patents. Yes, Intellectual Ventures is just one among many Microsoft-connected trolls that prey on Linux. Here is one new report about it: “Earlier this week, Intellectual Ventures (IV) petitioned the full Federal Circuit to review the panel opinion inIntellectual Ventures v. Symantec, which invalidated two of its patents under section 101. Both patents—the ’050 and the ’610—are directed to filtering email or file content. (IV does not challenge the invalidation of a third patent, which was directed to receiving, screening, and distributing email.) The petition echoes concerns raised by clients, courts, and the patent bar about the growing uncertainty about what is—and what is not—patent eligible, especially in the area of software patents. Identifying two emerging fault lines in the court’s evolving section 101 jurisprudence, IV urges the full court to bring much needed doctrinal clarity and methodological consistency to the patent eligibility analysis.”

This was also covered in another report (partly behind paywall) which says “Intellectual Ventures asked the full Federal Circuit on Tuesday to review a panel decision that invalidated two of its patents on detecting spam and viruses for claiming only abstract ideas, saying the ruling “directly conflicts” with other decisions on patent-eligibility.”

“It would be nice if we did not have to mention Microsoft at all, but it just keeps interfering with (and trying to undermine) Free software, so it’s impossible to ignore this company.”As a reminder, earlier this year software patents from Intellectual Ventures were aimed at Linux devices (in the courtroom) and recently a failed case of Intellectual Ventures led to the potential death of all software patents in the US. It’s clear that Intellectual Ventures intends to keep fighting that decision. It wants to keep extorting all sorts of companies, extracting patent payments (settlements from them). Intellectual Ventures is closely connected not just to Microsoft but to Bill Gates personally.

IAM’s apologists of trolls had the cheekiness to say the other day that “as you know, a lot of infringement goes uncontested because of the cost of litigating in the US.”

That’s nonsense. “A lot of patent bullying goes unchallenged (‘protection money’ paid) because of the cost of litigation everywhere,” I told them and “seen it personally,” added the former lawyer of Samba, Carlo Piana. As Benjamin Henrion (FFII) put it, “politicians don’t care about small companies.”

“I thought big companies were the targets of litigation,” said Jamie Love (Knowledge Ecology International, or KEI for short), probably joking about this myth.

The matter of fact is, Microsoft and its patent trolls continue to lobby pretty hard for software patents, yet the Linux Foundation somehow found it appropriate to join Microsoft and help Microsoft spread its lies (e.g. that .NET is open even though it’s not and SQL Server comes to GNU/Linux even though technically it will run on top of a Windows kernel, which in turn sits on GNU/Linux).

I had a lot more to say about the Linux Foundation joining Microsoft (yes, it certainly feels like the suitable way to put it), but I wrote it succinctly in Diaspora* and other such sites as I wish to focus all energy and time on the patent systems, not on Microsoft specifically. It would be nice if we did not have to mention Microsoft at all, but it just keeps interfering with (and trying to undermine) Free software, so it’s impossible to ignore this company.

11.16.16

Don’t Believe the Lies; Microsoft Hates Linux and Merely Pulls E.E.E. Tactics Against It, Including .NET Promotion

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Making GNU/Linux work the ‘Microsoft way’ so as to give Microsoft greater control

‘We had some painful experiences with C and C++, and when Microsoft came out with .NET, we said, “Yes! That is what we want.”‘

Miguel de Icaza, now Microsoft employee

Summary: A warning about lots of prepared (in advance) Microsoft brainwash, or intentionally misleading material that strives to portray Microsoft as a friend of GNU/Linux even though the company actively attacks GNU/Linux and tries to bring the competitor under its own control

WHILE we prefer to focus on the EPO and the US patent system’s software patents (the USPTO still grants them, but courts barely tolerate these), something happened today which we cannot simply brush off and ignore.

“It’s all about proprietary software. There’s nothing to celebrate here.”If one believes the lie, Microsoft now “loves Linux” and has officially joined the Linux Foundation. I have already responded to that over at Tux Machines where I also included many dozens of links to today’s nonsense (reproduced below), which was virtually everywhere. Remember these were quietly prepared in coordination with Microsoft/Linux Foundation before the announcements were actually made. It’s a well-orchestrated PR blitz that came out within an hour or two, reaching a lot of news channels simultaneously and drowning out opposition/scepticism. Almost all the links are there, except newer ones that we’ve found since, e.g. [1, 2] (it is a multi-faceted E.E.E. move that serves to also impose .NET and proprietary SQL Server on more users). There are reactions on the Web from pro-GNU/Linux people who are not so easily fooled or mesmorised by the torrent of Microsoft propaganda, delivered primarily by Microsoft-friendly writers who got groomed and prepared for it at least a day in advance (one writer accidentally published his article half a day too early and quickly took it down, he told us). There is relevance to patents, as one Red Hat employee put it: “I do wonder what #Microsoft joining #Linux foundation means wrt to those 250+ patents #Microsoft licenses to #Android OEMs.”

Compare that to optimism from those who got paid to write Microsoft-friendly puff pieces in a Windows site lately. No doubt there will be a lot more puff pieces about it in the coming days, maybe also some editorials critical of the move (I got approached for comments).

It is not a “love affair” but an attack on GNU/Linux, a classic E.E.E. move. It is imposing .NET on us, too. It’s all about proprietary software. There’s nothing to celebrate here. It’s not a victory for the Linux Foundation but a defeat; they finally sold out as Microsoft bought them off for just half a million dollars (slush funds to Microsoft).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft Steps Up Its Commitment to Open Source

    Today The Linux Foundation is announcing that we’ve welcomed Microsoft as a Platinum member. I’m honored to join Scott Guthrie, executive VP of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group, at the Connect(); developer event in New York and expect to be able to talk more in the coming months about how we’ll intensify our work together for the benefit of the open source community at large.

  2. Microsoft Joins The Linux Foundation As A Platinum Member
  3. Microsoft’s Linux love affair leads it to join The Linux Foundation

    No, this isn’t The Onion and it’s not April Fool’s Day. Microsoft has joined The Linux Foundation.

    Microsoft announced that it was joining forces with The Linux Foundation at the Microsoft Connect developer event in New York.

  4. Microsoft announces the next version SQL Server for Windows and Linux
  5. Microsoft joins The Linux Foundation as a Platinum member
  6. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation
  7. Microsoft—yes, Microsoft—joins the Linux Foundation
  8. THE END TIMES ARE HERE: Microsoft embraces Google, Apple, Samsung and even Linux in one go
  9. Microsoft’s open source love fest continues as it joins Linux Foundation
  10. Microsoft Goes Linux Platinum, Welcomes Google To .NET Foundation
  11. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation in another nod to open-source code
  12. Microsoft Is Joining the Linux Foundation
  13. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation
  14. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation in another step toward greater openness
  15. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, 15 years after Ballmer called it ‘cancer’
  16. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member, Google joins .Net community
  17. Microsoft is now a Linux Foundation Platinum Member
  18. That’s an expensive Linux install! Microsoft gives the Linux foundation $550000
  19. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation because 2016 isn’t weird enough already
  20. Microsoft just got its Linux Foundation platinum card, becomes top level member
  21. 4 no-bull takeaways from Microsoft joining the Linux Foundation
  22. Microsoft announces the public preview of the next release of SQL Server on Linux and Windows
  23. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation, Google Joins .NET Community
  24. Microsoft just joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member
  25. Linux has won, Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation
  26. Microsoft is joining the Linux foundation as a platinum member
  27. Microsoft joins Linux Foundation, Google added to .NET community
  28. Microsoft seeks to grow Azure platform with products, partnerships
  29. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation As Platinum Member
  30. Microsoft Fortifies Commitment to Open Source, Becomes Linux Foundation Platinum Member
  31. Microsoft contributes to open ecosystem by joining Linux Foundation and welcoming Google to the .NET community
  32. Linux Academy Partners with Microsoft Visual Studio Dev Essentials Program
  33. Microsoft Joins the Linux Foundation as the World Remains the Right Side Up
  34. Hell freezes over as Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation
  35. Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member
  36. Microsoft Connect: Visual Studio 2017, SQL Server v.Next for Windows and Linux and More
  37. SQL Server joins the Linux party, new preview comes to Linux and Docker
  38. Microsoft joins The Linux Foundation
  39. Google joins .Net Foundation
  40. Microsoft and Google bury the hatchet in one small way
  41. Google joins Microsoft’s .NET Foundation
  42. Microsoft announces Visual Studio for Mac, preview of the next SQL Server with Linux and Docker support
  43. Microsoft’s SQL Server Next for Linux, Windows hit public preview [Ed: Proprietary software with surveillance is not a gift]
  44. Google signs on to the .NET Foundation as Samsung brings .NET support to Tizen

    Microsoft is hosting its annual Connect(); developer event in New York today. With .NET being at the core of many of its efforts, including on the open-source side, it’s no surprise that the event also featured a few .NET-centric announcements…

  45. Samsung launches Visual Studio Tools for Tizen preview, lets developers build apps with .NET
  46. Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation, welcomes Google to .NET community
  47. Microsoft releases SQL Server Preview for Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  48. Microsoft says Linux is no longer ‘cancer,’ joining Foundation
  49. Samsung Joins Microsoft .NET, C# Developers to Build Apps for Tizen Devices

11.13.16

IAM’s Interest in Patent Trolls Going Global, Capitalising on Declining Patent Quality

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 11:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also see: The Former Chief Economist of the EPO Warns That Battistelli’s Implicit Policy of Lowering Patent Quality (for Quantity) Will Bring Patent Trolls to Europe

IAM THE VOICE OF PATENT TROLLS

Summary: A roundup of news about patent trolls, in particular their growth in east Asia and growing interest from parasitic firms like IBM and Microsoft (which have not so much left but a pile of software patents amassed in past years)

CHINA’S SIPO, which the EPO‘s President got close to (and increasingly imitates both in terms of degrading labour standards and poor patent quality), is becoming the generator of the world’s biggest platform for patent trolls. We have been pointing this out for a number of months now. It’s a harrowing scene because it means that an epidemic that (thus far) was almost exclusive to the US has spread like a pandemic to the world’s largest population.

A new article from John Collins and Steve Lundberg (yes, that crude software patents booster from Schwegman Lundberg & Woessner) is titled “Barrier to Business Patents Softening in China” and it reveals that China — like today’s EPO — encourages more patents irrespective of their quality and it already attracts patent trolls that utilise software patents. Has China learned nothing from the mistakes of the United States — mistakes that even government departments now openly speak of?

According to IAM, a site exceptionally sympathetic towards patent trolls (some of them pay IAM), says that “Qihoo 360 was actually the first company to have a GUI design patent granted.” Now it’s a highly litigious company, IAM says. With software patents, as expected, come the patent trolls to Asia, where patent quality nearly got abandoned (same mistake which the US had made). Here is another new example from IAM, though it does not use the “T” word. These trolls operate not only in China and as we pointed out before, some of them now go abroad and sue Western companies in plaintiff-friendly courts like those in Texas. They will certainly come to Europe as well, in due course. At the EPO, as we have repeatedly demonstrated, patent examination is too lax/lenient — a recipe for disaster for existing EP holders, if not future ones too. According to this tweet from the EPO: “Luis Ignacio Vicente del Olmo of @Telefonica : “The number of patent applications is increasing” #EPOPIC pic.twitter.com/BcmVRxswtD”

Does that mean more innovation or aggressive patent thickets that lock the ‘small guy’ (or business) out of the market?

As another EPO tweet put it the other day: “Luis Ignacio Vicente del Olmo: ” A smartphone may include more than 5000 patent families” #EPOPIC”

Wonderful! “Luis Ignacio Vicente del Olmo speaks about new challenges for IP as a result of the new technological paradigm,” the EPO says, adding that: “Luis Ignacio Vicente del Olmo of @Telefonica talks about trends in #ICT sectors & transparency of patent data #EPOPIC pic.twitter.com/wApNe223C1″

Some of that data comes to and from Asia, as this tweet notes: “Luis Ignacio Vicente del Olmo: “The European market is very attractive to companies outside Europe like from Asia & the US” #EPOPIC”

So how long before Chinese patent trolls come to Europe, even without that UPC (which would greatly assist them if it ever became a reality)?

IBM, which is already suing small companies using software patents, seems to salivating and drooling over litigation in China. See this tweet from IBM’s Manny Schecter, boasting that “China’s patent-lawsuit profile grows. http://www.wsj.com/articles/chinas-patent-lawsuit-profile-grows-1478535586 … via @WSJ” (article here but with limited access to non-subscribers).

“When a Canadian patent-licensing firm wanted to sue Japanese electronics company Sony Corp., it chose an unlikely venue: China.” That’s what the report says. IBM already sold quite a few pieces of its business to China and we can envision IBM trying to impose patent licensing deals in China, if not lawsuits too (for those not sufficiently ‘obedient’).

According to this new article from Liu, Shen & Associates, the notion of obligatory patent tax has already spread to China. “Standard essential patents have long been a hot topic in China,” they argue. “Hou Guang and Jia Hongbo of Liu,Shen & Associates explain the history and analyse recent developments…”

Standard essential patents (SEPs) block the use of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and much more. IBM used to lobby for this kind of mess in Europe and look where it led to; rather than stop SEPs/FRAND IBM told the European authorities that software patents promote FOSS innovation (which is of course a lie).

Design patents in Taiwan (arguably part of China, depending on who one asks) are discussed in another new article. Japan and China phased in this nonsense, as we noted the other day and sooner or later we expect China to overtake the United States in terms of patent trolling, including trolling in places/parts of the US where litigation is ubiquitous and low-quality patents are routinely tolerated (not just Texas, the trolls’ capital). See this article titled “As litigation increases, China follows Japan in exploring state-subsidised IP infringement insurance”. It says that “[p]atent authorities in both China and Japan have recently brought forth proposals for patent office-subsidised IP infringement insurance. SIPO says it will focus on offering protection to Chinese companies expanding outside the country, while the JPO anticipates local SMEs using its insurance product both offensively and defensively in China. As litigation increases in China, and more Chinese companies expand abroad, companies throughout the region need all the IP risk management tools they can get.”

What a total waste of resources and energy. They handicap their own economy.

Over in the United States, says this article from IAM, Rockstar (a patent troll connected to Microsoft) pursues more shakedown, even though the FTC deemed this damaging to the country. IAM, being the trolls’ apologist that it is (or denier of patent trolling), attacks the FTC’s study which bemoans patent trolls (for the second time in less than a month!) and says this:

One of the significant outcomes of the Federal Trade Commission’s recent report on patent assertion entities (PAE) is that it very clearly differentiated between two types of licensing business.

On the one hand there were the litigation PAEs, who use the threat of infringement litigation to drive a large volume of low-dollar settlements. They, it was strongly implied, largely engage in the kind of abusive practices that many in the patent community criticise and drive a high number of lawsuits.

We are increasingly convinced that IAM is very eager, with money from Microsoft-connected patent trolls on its table, to see patent trolls go global. IBM too seems to like the idea, as the company has little left other than a pile of patents (same as Microsoft). Some companies are simply transforming into megatrolls; see what Blackberry does in Texas because its products are failing to sell.

11.07.16

Microsoft’s Evil Patent Agenda, Issues Pertaining to Patent Scope, and the Mass Invalidation of Software Patents in the US

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Patents at 12:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sweeping changes continue to sweep up the patent mess in the USPTO

Broom

Summary: News about Microsoft’s love of [patents against] Linux, the persistent issue of patent maximalists guiding US patent law, and an update regarding the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that cleans up the mess left by these aforementioned actors

SOFTWARE PATENTS have always been our primary focus, since the site began exactly 10 years ago.

“I’m not talking about software patents, whose disappearance I would welcome,” said the author of this new article titled “The End of Intellectual Property?”

Patent practitioners must understand that in order for their profession to maintain legitimacy (positive public perception) they need to ensure that patents are granted only on things where patenting can be justified, economically in particular. Not every thing in existence should be patented. That’s just common sense, as authors who studied the effects of monopolies explained in scholarly work for decades if not centuries. Patent law — like copyright law — must examine/study the broader effects, including the externalities.

Today’s article is a mix of news found and collected over the past week. We present the news in no special order.

Microsoft Still Evil and Dangerous

Microsoft is lobbying against Alice (and for software patents, as usual). How do we know? This report from last week reminds us that Microsoft is a nasty, malicious company that intends to continue to sue rivals using software patents. To quote: “As Microsoft’s Micky Minhas sees it, Alice may be dissuading IP owners from other countries from patenting their products here, placing the US at a disadvantage. As China considers accepting patents for business methods, the US is heading “in the opposite direction,” he said.”

Does that mean that China’s patent system is getting better? No, it’s getting worse and patent trolling has gotten a foothold there, as we so often/habitually noted this year. Looking at what Microsoft actually continues to do, consider this new and timely article titled “No, Microsoft does not love open source” (published by the corporate media about a week ago). To quote the key part:

I used to follow Microsoft’s intellectual property Twitter account in order to see exactly how much Microsoft loved open source as it bragged about all the people it had coerced into signing patent agreements. I guess someone realized that crowing about that was not a great idea, because today the feed tweets puff pieces about how great software patents are and how they drive innovation (through litigation).

The truth is that Microsoft’s principal open source strategy hasn’t changed and probably never will. The point of open source to Microsoft (or any other company) is to give you an on-ramp to its platform. For Microsoft, that platform is morphing from Windows to Azure, so of course Microsoft has dialed back its rhetoric toward Linux. If you read Microsoft hates Linux, then you probably won’t host your VMs on Azure — same deal if you have a choice between two virtual private clouds. Duh, Microsoft loves Linux … on Azure. Why wouldn’t it?

Microsoft may even be willing to accept open source that’s tied to its technologies, but not directly to its platform. Generally these will be “children’s edition” versions like .Net Core. I’m not saying Visual Studio for Linux isn’t progress, but is anyone really itching to run .Net on Linux? I mean, after the outrageous commercial success of Mono (/sarcasm), are any of you going, “Woo-hoo, I want to write .Net code and run it on Linux”? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

Now, about those lawsuits — Microsoft likes it both ways: Embrace on one hand, and get tidy patent settlements on the other. People who work at Microsoft say it’s a big company, and as with all big companies, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Actually, that would be dismal management — if “we love open source” was really part of Microsoft’s strategy.

As evidence that Microsoft loves open source and Linux, last year Microsoft noted some long-running lawsuits that it wasn’t really winning and dropped them. Repositioning “we cut our losses” to “because we love you” is good PR. Respect! But let’s talk about real change.

For those who think that Microsoft has changed, be sure to check if media coverage changed rather than Microsoft itself. We wrote quite a few articles this year about new instances of Microsoft blackmail using patents, targeting companies which distribute Linux devices.

Patents That Harm Society

There is a new paper (more than a fortnight old by now, which in academic terms/by academic standards is very little) that focuses on patent litigation. Litigation is rarely indicative of success; rather, litigation is invoked when there is a failure and when parties fail to agree about patents. Who benefits from all this the most? Patent lawyers of course, at both sides (offensive and defensive). Here we have a new report about a patent lawsuit against solar panel company . Earth Solar Power, a Chinese solar panel company, got sued. Does the environment benefit from it? Certainly not. What does public interest say about all this? Also see this report about Octane. “Ninth Circuit’s en banc ruling says a case in which fee-shifting is appropriate is “simply one that stands out from others with respect to the substantive strength of a party’s litigating position”,” to quote MIP. Where does the public stand on this? Whose fees are “shifting” and who pays the price for all these lawsuits? Here is another new MIP article, this one speaking about a lawsuit with a decision composed by Justice Ginsberg. It’s not a new case, but here’s what MIP says:

In 2014, the US Supreme Court heard Petrella v Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which asked the same question of copyright law. In a majority opinion written by Justice Ginsberg, the Court decided that laches should not be an available defense in copyright infringement cases. The Court has recently shown a tendency to want to maintain consistency across the branches of IP law. In this case the Justices will have to interpret whether the statute creates a statute of limitation for damages in patent infringement cases, or if this is not established, whether laches are needed to effect this limitation upon suit delays.

Baby products are not improving because of lawsuits like this (see context in this article) and certainly society loses a lot. Maybe the problem is that too many patents are being granted in too many domains.

Tastelessly enough (in our view), Professor Crouch now uses his student Zachary Kasnetz to criticise a decision he doesn’t seem to approve of. Crouch is part of that crowd (or the insulated choir) that wants us that believe that more patents mean more success, more innovation, or whatever. His blog is usually quite informative (with detailed graphs and everything), but he is clearly subjective and he has become a symptom of a patent system led and steered by maximalists, not moderates. Some of them have become so greedy that they burn down the system and alienate the public. No wonder the connotation with patents among many members of the public isn’t quite so positive. Many now find “patents” synonymous with “trolls” rather than light bulbs, innovation, etc.

Here is a new article where Crouch shows the proportion of abandoned patent applications in the US going down over time. Is this indicative of a patent quality problem? Remember that the real number is FAR higher than what's shown by Crouch, around 92% if one considers revisions and re-applications. Here is another Crouch article about “USPTO Allowance Rate” and further commentary about it (“What is the Steady-State Patent Allowance Rate?”). In recent years, based on these figures, the USPTO got ever more terrible at rejecting bogus patents. David Kappos as Director (now lobbyist) made things ever more dire.

Courts Meet Avalanche of Bogus Patents

The USPTO has created a mess. It certainty did, but it profited from it. It’s obvious at whose expense and to whose gain. The incompetence (top-down, management instructing examiners) now overloads the PTAB staff and leads to a sort of ‘scatterback’ that falls back on courts. Only lawyers and trolls win here.

How did it all happen and what does the USPTO plan to do about it now? Well, based on Patently-O (Crouch’s blog), the “USPTO Proposed to Revise Rule 56″. David says in this article, while linking to a PDF, that the “announcement is here. I will be submitting comments before the 12/27 deadline, and so if you have any ideas or thoughts, please post away.”

So basically policy is being shaped by those who profit from it. We don’t expect public interest groups to have anything to say. Here is the nasty Watchtroll pushing his own agenda with this article about a “new memorandum on software eligibility”. Want to guess what Watchtroll will tell them?

Here is Watchtroll bemoaning the CAFC for smashing about 90% of software patent cases that it deals with. These people just can’t help themselves. Whenever the system tries to correct itself they panic and try to keep it ruined, as from ruin comes more business to them (consulting, applications, litigation etc.) and it’s frustrating to think that the public pays the price for all this unproductive chaos. The public pays, these people pocket it all.

The mess created by the USPTO, which granted patents on software for a number of decades (because it got greedy), scatters back on CAFC now. We see a growing number of reports about it. Kyle Bass, a person whom patent maximalists like to hate, goes on a PTAB winning streak ahead of the winter break. By invalidating crappy patents (granted by USPTO in error) he actually makes money. While opportunistic and selfish, at least it helps keep applicants honest (out of fear). Here is how MIP put it the other day. “The Coalition for Affordable Drugs has notched a flurry of PTAB wins in the past two weeks. The next decisions will not come until the new year,” Michael Loney wrote.

Drugs being more affordable is a good thing, right?

Here is another new update about PTAB, courtesy of Mr. Loney:

The past four months have been stable for Patent Trial and Appeal Board filings, while October saw the Federal Circuit giving another ruling on reviewability of IPR institution in Medtronic, the PTAB issue Kyle Bass and printed publication decisions, and the USPTO propose fee increases and changes to patent agent privilege

The monthly numbers of Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) petitions filed for the past four months have been within a 14-petition range, after displaying volatility at the start of the year.

There is no sign of stopping at PTAB and we are gratified to know that those who attack PTAB (Watchtroll for example) are not succeeding. In another report from MIP it’s stated that the “Federal Circuit [is] falling behind as PTAB appeals stack up,” confirming what we saw other sources claim. IAM ‘magazine’, in the mean time, has a new “Report” (usually paid) which shows that CAFC further limits patent scope (not just impacting software but also logic circuit designs) and it leaves us very hopeful. Is this combination of CAFC and PTAB, inheriting the ‘genes’ of the SCOTUS, going to make software patents a thing of the past everywhere? It’s definitely an attainable future. We’re partly there already.

What got a lot of this reform rolling was the America Invents Act (AIA), which brought PTAB just a few years before Alice. According to Patently-O,”AIA Patents [are] Approaching 50% of newly issued patents” and here is what they mean by AIA Patents:

By the end of the calendar year, most newly issued US utility patents will be considered “AIA Patents.” AIA-patents are examined under the first-to-file rules of the America Invents Act of 2011 and are also subject to potential post-grant-review proceedings. The chart below shows results from a random sample of 7,300 recently issued patents.

Soon enough there might not be many software patents left (not already expired) and Alice/Section 101 accomplished more than just software patents abolition, based on this report about industrial machines. It seems too good to be true, but it’s true. This is why patent law firms are hopping mad.

The US patent system is still messy, but we are optimistic and we believe it’s getting better; most developments these days are positive ones.

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