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05.19.18

LOT Network is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Posted in Google, OIN, Patents at 9:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LOT Network's Ken Seddon

Summary: Another reminder that the “LOT” is a whole lot more than it claims to be and in effect a reinforcer of the status quo

THE idea that we need to fight patent injustice by hoarding more patents was always a laughable one. The IBM-led OIN, for example, had us believing that it would somehow tackle the issue by making patents “defensive” (that can never be; it’s just not how patents actually work).

There’s an old saying along the lines of, to understand what an organisation stands for just check who’s running it. At the EPO it would be Battistelli and at the USPTO Iancu, part of the patent microcosm.

“There’s an old saying along the lines of, to understand what an orgnisation stands for just check who’s running it.”The LOT Network charm offensive and puff pieces aren’t over yet. We’re seeing Susan Decker’s Bloomberg piece licensed and reposted even more than a week later; we responded to it a couple of times before and 3 days ago we saw Wayne Williams in Beta News issuing another belated LOT Network puff piece in which he said:

Ken Seddon is the CEO of the non-profit patent protection network LOT. The organization’s members include Google, Red Hat, Lenovo, Pega and other big players, as well as dozens of startups in areas such as transportation, blockchain, and software.

Startups are disproportionately impacted by patent trolls and we chatted with Ken about how a smart, assertive IP strategy can help protect their businesses.

“Startups”-themes nonsense is the typical thing we also hear from Battistelli’s EPO. It’s pure marketing, trying to quell dissent from those who suffer the most. LOT Network is led by Google, which has a massive number of patents; all the key members are large companies, not SMEs (the term typically favoured in Europe).

“LOT Network is no solution to software patenting; it merely perpetuates all the same problems.”Ken Seddon the famous scientist (with an OBE) died earlier this year. The above Seddon, however, “drafted over 300 patent applications while at Motorola and Intel, and managed all US patent prosecution at Intel,” according to his official biography (later today we’ll remark about Intel’s patent policy). He is also connected to IPO and AIPLA, two front groups of patent maximalists. They — like Intel — promote software patents. That tells us what LOT Network really boils down to. LOT Network is no solution to software patenting; it merely perpetuates all the same problems.

05.15.18

A Google-Centric and Google-Led Patent Pool Won’t Protect GNU/Linux But Merely ‘Normalise’ Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, OIN, Patents, Red Hat at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LOT Network: A WHOLE LOT OF SOFTWARE PATENTS

Summary: Patent pools, which are basically the wrong solution to a very clear problem, continue to expand and promote themselves; the real solution, however, is elimination of abstract patents, notably software patents

OIN is no longer the only ‘game’ in town. IBM is the foremost player in OIN and OIN is not against software patents (same as IBM). A key staff from OIN recently left to join the Conservancy, which is strongly against software patents.

“…perhaps, to use OIN’s explanation, it’s trying to prevent such patents from ending on the laps of patent trolls. Just perhaps… in which case, wouldn’t it be better to work toward these patents’ elimination (using Section 101)?”The Google-led, Red Hat-backed LOT Network is in some headlines these days. It’s described as “defensive”, as usual. It’s not new, it’s just making another ‘charm offensive’, this time with Lenovo in the mix. Engine recommends LOT Network, which was mentioned in the puff piece from Bloomberg (copied a lot by Indian media) the other day. Some more Indian media has licensed and published it since. What was it all about? Did the author liaise with LOT Network for a puff piece, knowing that she would soon see further coverage like this? We now see two sites that habitually write about EPO scandals perpetuating the myth of “free patents and membership”. There’s no such thing as “free” patents because patents are something being taken away to begin with, it’s not a “charity” to give it ‘back’. It’s a PR stunt of large firms with many patents which they refuse to bury. To quote WIPR:

Non-profit LOT Network has announced two new programmes to “enrich and protect the global start-up community”, in efforts to incentivise innovation and encourage responsible patent use.

LOT, which lists Google, Canon, and Dropbox as its members, announced its new programmes on Thursday, May 10.

Mike Lee, head of patents at Google, said: “We think the protections afforded by LOT should be available to established and start-up companies alike, and do not want cost to be a barrier to participation.”

The first scheme is the Patent Transfer Program, which will allow qualifying start-ups to receive three free patents from LOT. The second is the organisation’s plan to expand free membership to LOT to any operating company which has up to $25 million in annual revenue.

Here’s the other new article about it:

The LOT Network, a Google-led patent initiative that aims to combat so-called ‘patent trolls’, has announced a new extended free membership, available to any company having up to $25 million in annual revenue.

Alongside the new membership, the LOT Network is granting qualifying startups three free patents, provided they have a membership in the LOT Network.

The group said it believes that “startups fuel innovation” and has “committed to share patents provided by its members with startups to promote and fuel further innovation and encourage these startups to join the LOT Network.

The first 200 operating companies in the LOT Network with $500,000 to $25 million in annual revenue or $500,000 to $25 million in financing over the past 18 months are eligible to receive patent assets at no cost.

The problem is that rather than work towards elimination of software patents they sort of ‘normalise’ them. Meanwhile, as IAM noted yesterday, RPX hoards more such patents:

RPX has acquired a small portfolio of patents from former search behemoth Lycos, according to an assignment recorded late last week with the USPTO. In total, the defensive aggregator picked up 24 assets from the tech company which grew rapidly during the 1990s dotcom bubble before quickly being eclipsed by the likes of Google and seeing a massive fall in value. The deal assignment was executed last November but has only just shown up on the PTO assignment database.

Those Lycos patents are likely software patents which are about to expire (almost 20 years since the dotcom bubble burst). What will RPX do with these? It did not buy these just for vanity; perhaps, to use OIN’s explanation, it’s trying to prevent such patents from ending on the laps of patent trolls. Just perhaps… in which case, wouldn’t it be better to work toward these patents’ elimination (using Section 101)?

Companies like Red Hat and Google try to “add value” by compiling a patent “portfolio”; if or when they die or get sold to another company those patents can be used offensively; see Sun and Oracle. Patents are never defensive; that’s just not how patents work. To call them “defensive” is part of the PR stunt, which IBM did a lot of a decade or more ago.

05.14.18

It Doesn’t Take a Genius to See That Microsoft Still Attacks GNU/Linux With Patents to Make Billions of Dollars in ‘Protection’ Money

Posted in Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Red Hat at 1:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Patent Trolls Roundup: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), Microsoft Trolls, and the Eastern District of Texas

Moon as satellite
Microsoft is still attacking GNU/Linux, it’s just using what’s sometimes known as ‘satellite’ entities

Summary: Intellectual Ventures, Finjan, RPX, and other Microsoft-connected trolls cannot be countered by LOT Network and the likes of it (notably OIN); Microsoft continues to shrewdly distribute patents to trolls, offering ‘protection’ from them (for a fee) [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16] and pressuring OEMs to bundle Microsoft 'apps' or risk retaliatory patent lawsuits

AS LONG as the USPTO continues to grant software patents and as long as already-granted US software patents are not expired (or voided by PTAB) Microsoft can carry on blackmailing the whole world. Microsoft isn’t alone in this; IBM, for example, does similar things. But this post will focus on Microsoft because it claims to “love Linux” and Microsoft-funded groups like the Linux Foundation (which nowadays pays even the marketing person, McPherson, more than it pays Linus Torvalds) repeated this lie as recently as Friday. It said “Microsoft Proves Linux Love” in the headline! Alluding to Microsoft fixing a trivial bug more than 3 decades late.

“…this post will focus on Microsoft because it claims to “love Linux” and Microsoft-funded groups like the Linux Foundation (which nowadays pays even the marketing person, McPherson, more than it pays Linus Torvalds) repeated this lie as recently as Friday.”Let’s start with Finjan, an Israeli patent troll which was backed financially by Microsoft and was (re)armed by IBM as recently as last year. Finjan basically does nothing but patent litigation. It’s hardly a promising business model after Alice and Oil States, but somehow they managed to defend one of their patents earlier this year at CAFC (a decision in January against Symantec). Several days ago Finjan “Announce[d] $10 Million Share Repurchase Program”. Signs of tough time and ‘damage control’, amid just lots of lawsuits and blackmail these days? Even former staff of theirs is turning against them. From the press release:

Finjan Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:FNJN), a cybersecurity [sic] company [sic], today announced that the Company’s Board of Directors has authorized a share repurchase program of Finjan’s outstanding common stock of up to $10 million.

Maybe Microsoft wishes to invest again? It’s well known that Microsoft is investing in a lot of patent trolls, including the world’s biggest. Irish media very recently revealed it had invested in the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures, giving it a major lifeline. “Changes in personnel and strategy at Microsoft,” IAM noted yesterday, “along with a new patent climate in the US – spelled the end for IV’s final acquisitions fund.”

“It’s well known that Microsoft is investing in a lot of patent trolls, including the world’s biggest.”IAM, the rather prominent propaganda outlet of patent aggressors and trolls, merely entertained the ‘new’ Microsoft narrative — a fictional framing that many GNU/Linux proponents grew tired of. Joff Wild’s Windows site (with occasional pieces from Microsoft executives and former executives) ended up including spin about RPX as well. To quote yesterday’s column of his:

Last week we reported on a filing made by a Microsoft subsidiary in Ireland which provided details of a $136.5 million write down of an investment the company had made in Intellectual Ventures’ Invention Investment Fund 3 (IIF3). The filing also revealed that the software giant was by far the biggest investor in the fund – contributing over 70% of the cash that had been raised.

[...]

Meanwhile, what does this news tell us about Microsoft? While some of the usual blogging and Tweeting suspects have been talking about the write down as showing that the company is the facilitator of the world’s biggest patent troll, arming it with a view to going after competitors and everyone else to beat them down to a pulp – or words that effect, those that have actually bothered to follow developments at Redmond over recent years will see something different.

[...]

On top of that, of course, those changes to the US patent landscape also make the kind of defensive buying that IV sold as a significant benefit to its corporate investors much less of a pressing need. Don’t forget that Microsoft has also recently decided not to renew its membership of RPX.

The simple fact is that Microsoft no longer needs IV: its IP strategy has changed and it is less exposed to damaging patent assertions than it once was. When the fundamentals change so much for an investor that has a 70%+ stake in an entity of whatever kind, that entity is going to struggle to recover. That is exactly what has happened to IIF3.

Intellectual Ventures did not only depend on Microsoft; Bill Gates had been backing it too (it’s his personal friend, whose role in the firm recently grew further). Sure, Microsoft left RPX, but only after it gave a lot of money to RPX, which almost everyone seems to be leaving these days (it’s collapsing and it was recently sold to private hands for a ‘paper’/virtual price that was a joke: 555).

Based on Indian media, as of a few days ago, it sure sounds like RPX has just swallowed some more software patents. The Economic Times wrote:

Bangalore-headquartered Zeno Security Corporation has entered an agreement to sell its portfolio of network security patents to San Francisco based RPX Corporation. The terms of the agreement are undisclosed. The deal includes the sale of three issued US Patents, and one pending US Patent Application.

[...]

Transactions IP LLC brokered the deal between Zeno and RPX.

They don’t even name a price.

Going back to Microsoft, remember that Microsoft used software patents to sue a rival it had committed antitrust violations against (Corel). It nowadays tries to crush it completely using patent litigation. A few days ago Law 360 wrote about it:

Microsoft’s Win Reduced, Atty Fees Denied In Corel IP Spat

A California federal judge has reduced an award for Microsoft from a jury that found Corel willfully infringed its Office software patents, dropping the payout from $287,000 to $124,000, and declined to make Corel pay Microsoft’s attorneys’ fees, saying there was nothing exceptional about the case.

In a decision unsealed Thursday, U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila said that Corel Corp.’s willingness to stipulate to infringement and drop its invalidity defenses against Microsoft Corp. early in the case, in an effort to reduce costs, was “rare”…

Don’t believe in the ‘new’ Microsoft myth. The company is still suing, both directly and indirectly. The corporate media mostly turns a blind eye and the above case was mostly/only covered by Law 360, which is a niche site. Why aren’t technology news sites mentioning it? Does that not suit the “Microsoft loves Linux” narrative? Remember that Corel was a major player in the GNU/Linux scene before Microsoft undermined it (a decade ago we wrote many articles about what had happened).

“Those ‘free’ patents would be trouble when Red Hat is dead or sold (either of those is an inevitability, it’s just a matter of time).”Meanwhile, “Red Hat Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd. are giving away free patents,” says the corporate media. This is not how patents work. Red Hat basically continues to actively pursue software patents and it means that Red Hat is part of the problem. The company and its patents can be taken over. Those ‘free’ patents would be trouble when Red Hat is dead or sold (either of those is an inevitability, it’s just a matter of time). Red Hat staff should simply refuse to apply for patents (some told us they have) because these patents expiry date will likely outlive the company itself. Where might these patents end up?

Here is Bloomberg’s Susan Decker with her report on Ira Blumberg and LOT Network — a report that has just been licensed and reposted by Indian media (Economic Times) [1, 2]. The relevant parts:

Red Hat Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd. are giving away free patents to any startup that joins a group of more than 200 companies devoted to keeping its members and their patents out of court.

It’s a carrot to entice startup companies to join the LOT Network, a non-profit created by Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Canon Inc. four years ago to combat litigation by patent assertion companies, known derisively as “trolls,” that don’t make any products but seek royalties by challenging patents. By joining LOT, a company agrees that if they sell patents to such firms, all group members will have a free license to them.

“You’re binding yourself to the mast and saying ‘I’m not going to give in to the siren song of trolls,”’ said Ira Blumberg, vice president of intellectual property and litigation for Lenovo.

[...]

“It is difficult to get a sufficient number of companies to coalesce around a single solution that will address the problem,” McBride said. “There is a mesh of overlapping efforts and LOT is a significant player.”

It’s easy to attract larger companies, said Ken Seddon, chief executive officer of LOT, which stands for license on transfer. The group’s members collectively own some 1.1 million patents and patent applications worldwide. That provides immunity from a fraction of the patents in force worldwide — more than 347,000 were issued last year in the U.S. alone.

LOT Network does absolutely nothing about Microsoft and its trolls. Just like OIN, it seems to be a pact whose purpose is to protect software patents from critics (software developers) rather than protect developers from such patents. These are relatively weak, corporates-led attempts to appease technical people.

“Just like OIN, it seems to be a pact whose purpose is to protect software patents from critics (software developers) rather than protect developers from such patents.”Red Hat bragged that it pocketed a “patent standstill” with Microsoft, but how does that help developers who don’t work for Red Hat? It does not. Generally speaking, Microsoft has bought the silence it needed from many of its potential critics (Canonical, SUSE, Red Hat, the Linux Foundation, even OSI), so don’t expect them to lash out, file a complaint etc. It’s a “divide and rule” tactic and money helps Microsoft tremendously with this strategy.

03.27.18

More Litigation Ventures of Intellectual Ventures (Microsoft’s Patent Troll) Stopped by Unified Patents

Posted in Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 11:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recently on Unified Patents:

Summary: The latest news about Microsoft’s biggest and most vicious patent troll; OIN also reappears in the media, albeit it’s no solution to patent trolls

TEN years ago we indexed articles about Intellectual Ventures, having written about it for almost a dozen years. Intellectual Ventures isn’t just another patent troll because 1) it’s the world’s largest; 2) it’s operating through literally thousands of shells; 3) it originates in Microsoft and 4) it is still being funded by Microsoft, even when Microsoft keeps saying that it “loves Linux.”

A few days ago we wrote about Intellectual Ventures suing another Microsoft competitor (using ridiculous software patents that were granted by the USPTO). This is the type of thing which usually goes on behind closed doors and only when there’s no resolution behind closed doors the public finds out about it (lawsuits are public).

Thanks to Unified Patents, this Microsoft patent troll has just lost another patent — a patent it used to extort a lot of companies with, as named by Robert Jain in this post from yesterday:

On March 26, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Intellectual Ventures I, LLC, IPR2016-01643 invalidating all challenged claims of U.S. Patent 6,775,745 owned and asserted by Intellectual Ventures I, LLC, a well-known NPE. The ’745 Patent, directed to a hybrid data caching mechanism, has been asserted in multiple litigations against several companies including EMC (Dell), Lenovo and NetApp. At the time of this decision, the litigation against these companies remains pending.

The lawsuits can soon be dropped hopefully; but there may be room for appeal (to CAFC). How many more victims will there be in the meantime and how can anyone carry on pretending that Microsoft has changed? It funded this troll as recently as about 2 years ago. Microsoft’s main man in this troll seized even more executive power in it.

Where are GNU/Linux vendors amid all this? Paid sufficiently by Microsoft for silence on the matter?

OIN can barely do anything against patent trolls such as Intellectual Ventures. It claims to be trying to take over patents before they fall into the hands of trolls, but examples of that are extremely limited. OIN’s CEO, whom I spoke to on the phone a few times (for a long time), is the feature of this new article, published yesterday under the headline “Keep the IoT Free (Patent Battles Not Welcome)” in IoT Journal. To quote:

As the next wave of internet usage, the Internet of Things (IoT) will transform industries and provide new opportunities for technological advances. The IoT can be viewed as a means to connect objects, machines and humans in large-scale communication networks. Gartner estimates that there will be 20.4 billion IoT-connected components worldwide by 2020, and more than half of major new business systems and processes will include a IoT component.

Furthermore, according to a 2017 Boston Consulting Group report, the market for IoT products and services is expected to reach $267 billion by 2020. The report predicts that by 2020, 50 percent of all IoT spending will be driven by discrete manufacturing, transportation, logistics and utilities—critical areas of businesses and community infrastructure.

[...]

While it has experienced nearly exponential growth, the successful adoption and use of open-source by banking networks, mobile phone manufacturers, telecom networks, smart cars, cloud computing and blockchain platforms, among numerous others, was not a foregone conclusion. In 2003, there was an IP-based attack on Linux, the most prevalent open-source software project.

While the claims underlying the litigation ultimately were found to be without merit in the court proceeding, it was a wake-up call to several IP-savvy companies as to the potential negative impact of patent aggression on the growth of Linux and open source software projects. IBM, Red Hat and SUSE (then Novell) coordinated an effort with Sony, Philips and NEC to conceptualize and implement a solution designed to create a patent no-fly zone around the core of Linux.

This isn’t really what they do. They actively defend software patents from scrutiny (from GNU/Linux users) rather than defend GNU/Linux from software patents, to borrow an analogy from Bruce Perens.

03.03.18

Just Months After Japan’s Giant Canon Joined a Patent Nonaggression Pact (OIN) It’s Filing Dozens of Patent Lawsuits

Posted in Asia, Courtroom, OIN, Patents at 3:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A lantern

Summary: The company better known as a victim of patent aggression is now approaching the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in pursuit of protection money if not injunctions

A FEW months ago Canon joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), but its USPTO-granted patents are still afloat and they are being used offensively, not defensively. To quote Law 360:

Canon filed three dozen suits Wednesday against companies in 15 federal jurisdictions along with a complaint at the U.S. International Trade Commission alleging that the companies are infringing patents that cover its printer toner cartridges.

Japan-based Canon Inc. hit Ink Technologies Printer Supplies LLC, Print After Print Inc., and Billiontree Technology USA Inc. in Ohio, Arizona, and California federal courts and 33 additional companies in various federal district courts with complaints alleging that the companies are infringing up to nine patents that cover its printer toner…

Canon was a victim of Microsoft's patent troll (in spite of paying ‘protection’ money to Microsoft) and it was one of the few firms the EPO discriminated for. Is Canon becoming what it fought?

“Holy cow,” one patent maximalist uttered. “Canon went ham yesterday filing new patent complaints.”

“Is Canon becoming what it fought?”“It is also very unJapanese,” IAM said, “at least traditionally – and very, very unCanon. It would be interesting to know whether this is all about preventing infringement or generating licensing income.”

“Litigation is a common response after strong assets do not sell,” said another person. “They’ve been selling to NPEs [trolls] for a while, without blowback, so…”

These patent trolls are living in a fantasy world. Many of these trolls cease operations and go ‘bankrupt’ nowadays (they’re not real businesses anyway).

“These patent trolls are living in a fantasy world.”“If that is the case,” IAM continues, “it’s a big turnaround as the top IP executives at Canon have always been very sceptical of the benefits of litigation-based monetisation. If Canon is doing it, then we can probably say Japan Inc as a whole is in the process of a big conversion.”

A couple of weeks earlier Bluefin bragged about pursuing another Japanese patent. JPO recently made headlines for softening its stance on patents. Does that explain why Canon ‘exported’ its patents to trolls? Is it that desperate?

02.25.18

As Japan Moves Towards Reducing Patent Lawsuits and Curbing SEP Abuse Will the United States Follow Suit?

Posted in America, Antitrust, Asia, IBM, OIN, Patents, RAND at 2:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ask Makan Delrahim

KDDI Corporation logo

Summary: Japan is getting tougher on standards-imposed patent traps (SEP), the US may be getting ready to do the same, and Japan’s KDDI Corporation joins OIN

WE recently wrote about Japan's growing comprehension of the SEP threat, unlike the US with Makan Delrahim (a lobbyist) in charge of antitrust matters. President Trump fills his swamp and it truly shows (just look at his USPTO Director pick, soon to speak at an IAM event). As IAM put it the other day: “Another speech from @TheJusticeDept’s Makan Delrahim suggesting US gov is looking very closely at use of antitrust enforcement in standard setting https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/assistant-attorney-general-makan-delrahim-delivers-remarks-college-europe-brussels” (think about Qualcomm for instance).

Watchtroll, in the mean time, is frustrated that on patents “Trump DOJ is on the same page as the Obama DOJ, which is hard to fathom given all the promises made by President Trump during his campaign.”

“The patent maximalists sure hope that chaos will be restored as they profit from that chaos.”Watchtroll now helps the lobby for patent chaos, hoping that republishing a letter will help it have impact. The patent maximalists sure hope that chaos will be restored as they profit from that chaos.

As we recently noted, Japan (and JPO) recognises that patent litigation isn’t desirable (unless you’re a lawyer) and this new report says that “Japan will soon implement a process that will swiftly resolve disputes over patents that are crucial to adhering to certain technical standards…” (that’s SEP)

This is a good thing. Consider the fact that, as IAM put it last week, Hitachi fed patents to “NPE Microconnect in the past several months.”

“…Japan is moving in the same direction as the US. The EPO, by contrast, moves in the same direction as China (SIPO).”“NPE” is a euphemism for patent troll and it’s worrying to think that a Japanese giant will resort to this. This is good for IAM and its paymasters of course, but what about Japan in general? IAM has just published this sponsored ‘article’ for Shobayashi International Patent & Trademark Office (Japan), so it’s clear that IAM is in the pockets of the Japanese patent ‘industry’ (litigation), not actual industry.

A week ago it was announced that KDDI, a communications service provider in Japan, had entered the Linux-centric Open Invention Network (OIN). A press release got disseminated (e.g. [1, 2]) to say:

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that KDDI Corporation (KDDI) has joined OIN as a community member. As the first key communications service provider in Japan to enroll in the OIN community, KDDI is demonstrating its commitment to open source software and the associated development efforts that benefit the entire communications industry.

“The communications industry is continuing its rapid transformation. Linux-based platforms like ONAP, OPNFV, and OpenDaylight are beginning to enable carriers and enterprises to provision new levels of service functionality across cloud and software defined networks (SDN) at an unprecedented pace,” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of Open Invention Network. “We appreciate KDDI’s participation in joining OIN and demonstrating its commitment to innovation and patent non-aggression in open source.”

OIN is not against software patents. It’s more of an IBM ‘hack’ which, according to Bruce Perens, is about protecting software patents from Linux rather than protecting Linux from software patents (quite an accurate description we might add).

Japan is one of IP5 (JPO is in it), so watching what happens there is definitely worthwhile. Japan has become a lot stricter on software patents and the courts not so plaintiff-friendly. In that regard, Japan is moving in the same direction as the US. The EPO, by contrast, moves in the same direction as China (SIPO).

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.

10.28.17

Canon Has Proven That Microsoft’s Shell Game With Patent Trolls Makes ‘Peace’ Deals (Paying ‘Protection’ Money) Futile, Belatedly Joins OIN

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 1:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft will never co-exist with Linux; it just wants to eat it alive

Canon camera

Summary: The Open Invention Network (OIN), whose CEO used to talk about how Microsoft would attempt to pass patents for patent trolls to attack GNU/Linux, adds Canon as a community member and we are attempting to keep track of Microsoft’s intricate shell game (securing a multi-billion dollar patent ‘tax’ on Linux)

THE many patent trolls out there are not the main problem; the main problem is software patents, which patent trolls love to use. Lawsuits may have moved out of Texas, but patent trolls are still active and according to this group which is keeping track of such valuable, illuminating statistics: “Of the 26 patent suits filed on Friday, 15 were filed by patent trolls — that’s 58%.”

“Shortly after Microsoft blackmailed Canon for using Linux — using software patents as an extortion tool — Canon was sued by Microsoft’s biggest troll (Intellectual Ventures).”Sometimes it’s more like 90%. It depends on the day. We once estimated that about 90% of “news” about patents also boil down to lies and marketing from the patent ‘industry’, so it’s not easy to get the truth in this domain. One had to dig quite deep.

As we noted here before [1, 2], shortly after Canon had signed a patent agreement with Microsoft (probably protection racket) Microsoft’s biggest patent troll attacked Canon. These deals may be worthless if companies can go behind one’s back and send trolls to attack so-called ‘allies’. Several days ago Canon announced that it was joining the Open Invention Network (OIN), but that’s not going to protect is from patent trolls. Shortly after Microsoft blackmailed Canon for using Linux — using software patents as an extortion tool — Canon was sued by Microsoft’s biggest troll (Intellectual Ventures). How can OIN help in such a scenario? There is nothing it can do. Here is what the press release says:

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that Canon has joined as a community member. As a global leader in such fields as professional and consumer imaging and printing systems and solutions, and having expanded its medical and industrial equipment businesses, Canon is demonstrating its commitment to open source software as an enabler of innovation across a wide spectrum of industries.

“A key innovator in many technologies, Canon is one of the world’s most sophisticated corporations in developing and managing intellectual property,” said Keith Bergelt, CEO of OIN. “Canon has further distinguished itself by joining both the LOT Network and OIN. As a large patent holder, Canon has recognized the importance of participating in these complementary defensive patent networks together as part of a comprehensive IP strategy.”

“Open source technology, especially Linux, has led to profound increases in capabilities across a number of key industries, while increasing overall product and service efficiency,” said Hideki Sanatake, an Executive Officer, Deputy Group Executive of Corporate Intellectual Properties and Legal Headquarters at Canon. “By joining Open Invention Network, we are demonstrating our continued commitment to innovation, and supporting it with patent non-aggression in Linux.”

It speaks of “patent non-aggression in Linux,” but Microsoft is still aggressive (with patents) against Linux and it claims to be a ‘contributor’ to Linux (it certainly contributes to headaches). Microsoft’s ‘contributions’ in Munich speak for themselves. Financial ‘contributions’ to officials more-like…

“Dominion Harbor received a lot of patents from Microsoft’s patent troll (Intellectual Ventures) and a similar number of patents is passed from the Microsoft-connected Nokia.”Last week we mentioned VirnetX, which is a patent troll that got paid by Microsoft. It is still suing Apple, again earlier this month, and the following new blog post mentions Document Security Systems (DDS) in relation to the same business [sic] model of patent trolls. They intend to do nothing but prey on companies; no products in the pipeline:

Back in June, VirnetX Holding Corp announced plans to sell a 10% stake in itself to an obscure Japanese partner billed as a consortium of Japanese corporations and financial institutions. The PIPCO (which trades on the NYSE American exchange) was set to gain $20 million in expansion capital as well as an entrée into a potentially lucrative market for licensing its secure communications technologies and patents. But according to recent SEC filings, the stake in VirnetX will no longer change hands after the company’s favourable US district court verdict against Apple boosted its share price.

[...]

Times are tough for PIPCOs, no doubt, and it can’t be easy for them to find investors. VirnetX isn’t the only such company we’ve seen look to Asia for financing: Document Security Systems did a stock swap with a Singapore businessman only last month to save itself from being de-listed from the NYSE American exchange. Listed licensing companies understandably want to diversify, and Asia is a natural ground for expansion. But the big patent players in Asia have so far focused their partnerships on private NPEs and national patent funds like IP Bridge and Intellectual Discovery. I don’t expect that will change anytime soon.

This same blog, which favours patent trolls (we track it for information about trolls), speaks about InterDigital. We have been writing about InterDigital since 2007 and it turns out now that an antitrust investigation against it falls through. Here they go again pursuing a tax (share of it) on every mobile device:

What it doesn’t include, though, is some of the other giant SEP holders such as Qualcomm, InterDigital, Ericsson and Nokia. They have largely resisted attempts to license their wireless patents through pools, although the first three have joined Avanci, the collective licensing platform headed by former Ericsson CIPO Kasim Alfalahi that is looking to license patents relating to 2G, 3G and 4G mobile technology in a number of different Internet of Things (IoT) verticals.

What’s also worth noticing is that Nokia (mentioned above) has just passed thousands of patents to some obscure entity. We previously showed how Microsoft-connected patent trolls had been fed by Microsoft in order for them to attack Microsoft’s rivals. That’s why the following might be important. Portions from this new blog post:

Last Friday, this blog broke the story of a huge portfolio of Nokia assets that had been acquired by Provenance Asset Group, a company set up by IP advisory business Quatela Lynch McCurdy (QLM). With around 4,000 US assets it looks to be amomg the largest transactions so far in 2017.

[...]

Nokia’s recent spate of transfers is one reason for the significant jump. As well as the large stockpile recently acquired by PAG, the Finnish telco has also put a portfolio of 6,000 patents up for sale through AQUA Licensing. Following its purchase of Alcatel-Lucent last year, which significantly boosted its patent reserves, Nokia has clearly been busy assessing the size and scope of its portfolio. Intellectual Ventures has also shaken up the secondary deals market, significantly ramping up its rate of sales including, earlier this year, the disposal of around 4,000 former Kodak patents to Dominion Harbor.

Dominion Harbor received a lot of patents from Microsoft’s patent troll (Intellectual Ventures) and a similar number of patents is passed from the Microsoft-connected Nokia. Does that mean that Android will be targeted next? Time will tell, but that seems likely.

Microsoft is trying to make this entire space very toxic (lots of patent lawsuits and patent tax) in order to entice companies/people into Azure for perceived ‘safety’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. That’s how it also coerces Android OEMs into pre-installing Microsoft software.

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