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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?


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).


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.


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.


Microsoft Brings Its GNU/Linux-Hostile Patent Scheme to China

Posted in Asia, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 9:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft and trolls

Summary: Microsoft reiterates its intention to only offer ‘protection’ (or indemnification) for GNU/Linux users who pay Microsoft monthly fees while going further and hinting that it may send additional patents to trolls

THERE are still some people out there — not Richard Stallman, obviously — who have fallen for the lie and PR campaign which says “Microsoft loves Linux”. Some people, like Red Hat and Canonical (or Linux Foundation) staff, are paid not to understand, or at least to keep silent about it.

“As Bruce Perens recently explained, OIN exists to protect software patents from Linux rather than protect Linux from software patents.”On the surface it may seem like Microsoft’s patent aggression against GNU/Linux is no more. But that’s purely an illusion. We habitually show how Microsoft-connected patent trolls attack vendors who distribute GNU/Linux. They don’t always know who’s behind the trolls because the aggressors try to keep it complicated. It’s a shell game. Intellectual Ventures, for instance, has literally thousands of shell entities around it (one of these defames me).

Earlier today we found this press release about a firm from China (Guangzhou Automobile Group). No FOSS or Linux news site has caught it (so far). “By joining Open Invention Network,” (OIN) says the firm, “we are demonstrating our commitment to open source software, and supporting it with a pledge of patent non-aggression.”

The concept of “patent non-aggression” is OK, but OIN is next to worthless for Linux. As Bruce Perens recently explained, OIN exists to protect software patents from Linux rather than protect Linux from software patents. It’s an IBM front. It won’t oppose software patents (don’t even ask it about those) and it cannot do anything about patent trolls, by its own admission. That’s why Microsoft prefers using trolls — to distance itself from the negative publicity associated with patent aggression.

Here is a portion from the press release:

Open Invention Network (OIN), the largest patent non-aggression community in history, announced today that Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC Group), has joined as a community member. As owner of China’s fastest-growing auto brand, GAC Group is demonstrating its commitment to open source software (OSS) as an enabler of electronic vehicle systems.

More interesting, however, is this article published this morning by a patent trolls’ Web site. “Microsoft expands Azure IP Advantage to China,” the headline says. As we explained earlier this year in many articles (at least 13 [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]), we expect that Microsoft will sic its patent trolls on rivals unless they pay protection money (in the form of Azure rents). We have already covered evidence of this. Here is the latest (emphasis ours, “NPE” is a euphemism for patent troll):

There are three key components to the Azure IP Advantage programme, which was rolled out back in February. First, the company’s uncapped indemnification policy was expanded to cover open source technologies; second, 10,000 Microsoft patents have been made available to customers for deterrent and defensive purposes; and finally, Azure customers can receive a ‘springing licence’ should Microsoft ever transfer patents to an NPE.

But the fine print noted that Azure IP Advantage was not yet available in China. Azure services in the country are operated by a Beijing-based company called 21Vianet, an independent entity. The unique arrangement meant a couple of extra hoops to jump through before the programme could take effect. But it will do just that at the start of next month, so from then on the Azure IP offering will be identical across all of the product’s international markets.

Do not believe for a moment that this is good news. Like we said earlier this year, it’s another Novell-like attempt to create two classes of GNU/Linux, “safe” (hosted by Microsoft) and “unsafe”. Microsoft isn’t stupid. We oughtn’t be stupid, either.


OIN is Still a Distraction Unless We Want GNU/Linux to Coexist With Software Patents (Rather Than Eliminate Those)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, OIN, Patents at 2:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Open Invention Network (OIN): the ‘solution’ of companies that love (to exploit) GNU/Linux and also love software patents


Summary: Another wave of media coverage by/for the Open Invention Network (OIN) necessitates a reminder of what OIN stands for and why it is not tackling the biggest problems which Free/Open Source software (FOSS) faces

THE notion that OIN can “protect” GNU/Linux from software patents may be a convenient one, but OIN never opposed software patents and it rarely offered any substantiative protection. With the USPTO de-emphasising patents on software (in no way owing to OIN) we might find some reprieve. With PTAB eliminating many such patents (already granted by the USPTO) we might feel safer.

“OIN is, in our assessment, somewhat of a distraction.”The latest OIN PR, however, has managed to entice at least a couple of GNU/Linux-centric writers. OIN is, in our assessment, somewhat of a distraction. It’s not at all useful against patent trolls and it never opposes software patents. It’s actually supportive of FOSS and software patents at same time, as contradictory as that concept can be (FOSS and software patents are inherently incompatible). SJVN wrote ‘for’ OIN that “everyone and their uncle — yes, even Microsoft– use Linux and open-source. A decade ago, Linux was under attack by SCO for imaginary copyright violations, and then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was claiming that Linux violated more than 200 of Microsoft’s patents. So Open Invention Network (OIN) patent consortium was formed to defend Linux against intellectual property (IP) attacks. The stakes may not be so high today, but Linux and open-source software is still under attack from patent trolls and other attackers. That’s where the Open Invention Network (OIN) steps up by expanding its patent non-aggression coverage through an update to its definition of the Linux System.”

Well, notice that they never even mention GNU. It’s not a coincidence, it’s intentional. They certainly know all about GNU, but the brand “Linux” represents a friendlier (to them) philosophy. Published around the same time by Christine Hall was the following article, suggestive of a media outreach by OIN. It says: [via]

On Thursday, the Linux System got a lot larger. This is good news, and means that anyone using Linux and other other software often used with it, can sleep better nights, knowing that the Open Invention Network (OIN) is now watching their back on the patent front more than ever.

That’s what OIN does. It seeks to protect enterprise Linux and open source users against patent infringement claims, which is seen as open source’s greatest intellectual property vulnerability. It does so primarily with an ever growing portfolio of patents it offers to license free-of-charge to any person or organization that agrees to not enforce its own patents against core components of Linux and other key open source projects, which it calls the “Linux System.” It’s a carrot and stick approach, using a lot of carrot and going easy with the stick.

OIN is well-meaning (in its own mind), but it won’t tackle software patents and patent trolls that use them. As Benjamin Henrion put it, it’s “useless against trolls. But that’s not in the PR.” (press release).

“It claims to be trying to thwart sales of patents that would later be used to sue GNU/Linux vendors, but rarely have we seen a real example of that (they claimed this only once, more than half a decade ago).”We, ourselves, stopped engaging with OIN. It proved to be a waste of time, especially when we spent a long time communicating online with patent trolls who had approached us, then trying to get OIN involved (it was toothless and uninterested).

Right now, just to use a new example, the Microsoft-connected Acacia (Microsoft connections and history of suing GNU/Linux vendors) gets mentioned for former executives netting ZTE patents. “ZTE [is] revealed as vendor of Chinese patents sold to NPE set up by ex-Acacia executives,” says the headline and here is the relevant part from IAM (trolls’ proponent):

Longhorn – founded last year by former Acacia Research executives Christian Dubuc and Khaled Fekih-Romdhane – announced back in February that its Ox Mobile subsidiary had acquired “assets related to 4G/LTE with worldwide coverage, as well as Chinese assets related to smartphone implementation” from an unnamed Chinese company.

What could OIN possibly do here? Nothing. It claims to be trying to thwart sales of patents that would later be used to sue GNU/Linux vendors, but rarely have we seen a real example of that (they claimed this only once, more than half a decade ago). OIN can, at times, look like a placebo. It gives an illusion of safety and thus false comfort.

“It’s the ‘solution’ as envisioned by companies like IBM, which (as we shall show later today) spearhead a big push for software patents everywhere.”To clarify, OIN are not the “bad guys”; far from it…

OIN just isn’t the solution to our problems. It’s the ‘solution’ as envisioned by companies like IBM, which (as we shall show later today) spearhead a big push for software patents everywhere. If OIN took some concrete action, e.g. submitting an amicus brief against software patents or sending a letter against IBM’s latest plot — a ludicrous concept as OIN virtually came from IBM — we would possibly change our minds and reconsider this position.

Having just visited the front page of OIN’s Web site, it now seems abundantly clear that they collaborate with IAM (even pay IAM), proponents of software patents, patent trolls, and patent maximalism. If OIN tries to make itself look even worse, then it’s certainly doing a fine job.


PAX Means Peace, But It’s Making Peace With Software Patents Rather Than Destroy Them

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, OIN, Patents at 6:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whether it’s called “PAX” or “SuperPAX”, it does not solve the issue but merely exacerbates the patent thicket problem

Jeremy Paxman
Jeremy Paxman

Summary: One last take on the whole “PAX” brouhaha, which is far from a solution to problems we’re all facing in the software world

THE announcement of “PAX” made a lot of headlines/press last week, e.g. in the financial press1. Well, Android-centric sites covered that quite a lot and to a lesser degree GNU/Linux-centric sites did too (like SJVN2). We wrote several articles about that, e.g. [1, 2]. We believe that as long as the USPTO grants software patents there is room for things like “PAX”, but they are not a solution to the underlying problem, which is the patents themselves (on software).

“We believe that as long as the USPTO grants software patents there is room for things like “PAX”, but they are not a solution to the underlying problem, which is the patents themselves (on software).”Jeff Roberts‏, a writer whom we respect for his firm grasp of these issues, published the article “Google-Backed Patent Network LOT Adds Cisco, Slack” and separately added: “Patent folks: Google-backed LOT adds Slack & Cisco to its non-aggression pact. (how long till @IBM joins too?)”

Well, IBM has already fed some patents into Android OEMs for defensive purposes (at great cost). It would not be shocking if it joined “PAX” sooner or later, even if it has OIN. Maybe there will even be some bridging between OIN and “PAX”, as one defends GNU/Linux (not just the kernel anymore) and another Android, which uses the Linux kernel and some Free software projects that are covered by OIN.

“Well, IBM has already fed some patents into Android OEMs for defensive purposes (at great cost).”“Collective shields don’t work against trolls,” Benjamin Henrion rightly reminded them. This is why we prefer different approaches. We don’t think that patent pools, even if advertised as “defensive”, will ever lead to eradication of deprecation of software patents.

1 Google Creates Community License to Unify Android Makers (GOOG, MSFT)

Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Google (GOOG) is attempting to create peace in patent litigation.

The Mountain View company launched Android Networked Cross-License or PAX (Latin for Peace), a community license between manufacturers of Android devices that makes their collective patents available to each other minus royalties. “ We call it a community license because all members grant licenses to one another on a royalty-free basis, thereby promoting patent peace within the Android ecosystem,” the company wrote in a blogpost. (See also: Patents Are Assets, So Learn How To Value Them).

Signatories to the patent license include prominent makes of Android phones, such as the likes of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd (SSNLF) and HTC. Collectively, they hold more than 230,000 patents. According to Google, the agreement “materially reduces patent risk.” In other words, this means that members will not sue each other for using Android-related patents in their devices.

2 PAX: Android patent protection consortium formed

OIN was formed in 2005 when Linux was under legal siege from SCO for imaginary copyright violations and then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer claimed Linux violated over 200 Microsoft patents. So, IBM, Sony, Phillips, Red Hat, and Novell formed Open Invention Network (OIN) to defend Linux against IP attacks. Since then, many major companies have joined OIN from both inside the technology business, such as Google and manufacturing companies like Damiler.


OSDL, OIN, Linux Foundation, PAX and the Likes of Them Dodge the Real Problem, Which is Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, OIN, OSDL, Patents at 10:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Their biggest sponsors simply do not oppose software patents and instead hoard some themselves

Linux Foundation sponsors

Summary: The arms race of patents, or the notion that bad patents can be countered using more bad patents, has become an infectious mentality that acts as a barrier to real progress and only makes the patent thickets a lot ‘thicker’ (impenetrable to small companies/market entrants)

THE US patent office is no longer as lenient as it used to be, but software patents continue to be granted on occasions and troll lawsuits are still being filed (albeit fewer of them than before). As so many companies out there now use Android (Linux), the targets of litigation are often users/distributors of Android and hence “PAX” has some real/perceived necessity. We recently wrote two articles about PAX [1, 2] and Andrew Updegrove, who had worked for the Linux Foundation, wrote the following about it yesterday, under the headline “Google Announces Android “PAX” Cross-License Program – But to What Purpose?”

The first meaningful OSS defensive initiative was Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), founded back in 2000 by companies like IBM, Intel and HP to reassure developers and customers in the face of the veiled threats then being made by Microsoft against users of Linux and other OSS, and in light of the actual (and ultimately unsuccessful) litigation by SCO, perhaps bankrolled by Microsoft, against four companies using Linux.


Like OSDL, OIN was heavily funded by its founding members and has a high-powered Executive Director and staff. Over 2,000 organizations have now signed the OIN License Agreement, which you can read here, without having to send in a request to be vetted, or incurring a confidentiality obligation.

And then there are the many efforts that were far less meaningful. Beginning with an announcement by IBM on January 11, 2005, many of the leading IT companies made public “patent non-assertion pledges” to reassure users of Linux (and sometimes other prominent OSS programs) that they would not be sued. Those companies ultimately included Motorola, Nokia, Sun, Google, Oracle and others, each publicly releasing its own slightly different legal pledge, and its own specified list of patents – dozens, scores and even hundreds of them. In the case of IBM, the package included exactly 500 patents, an oddly round number. (The same press release also noted that IBM had filed more patents than anyone else for the fourth year in a row, conveying a rather mixed message to the patent-averse open source community.)

PAX and OIN are both ineffective against trolls and as we reminded readers earlier this afternoon, companies like Ericsson and Microsoft pass patents for trolls to sue, bypassing all sorts of alleged defenses such as OIN.

Yesterday or earlier this week, more detailed analysis emerged on the cases involving Samsung, Apple and Qualcomm (which had abused its position against both Samsung and Apple). To quote what Florian Müller wrote this morning:

Procedural decisions relating to two major Apple cases have come down this week. With respect to design patent damages in Apple v. Samsung, Apple did not get its preferred way forward (affirmance of prior damages verdict and an immediate re-retrial necessitated by the Federal Circuit’s dismissal of Apple’s trade dress claims), but the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has granted Apple’s wish that its contract, patent and antitrust action against Qualcomm be kept separate from a long list of (consumer) antitrust cases related to the FTC’s mid-January complaint against Qualcomm.

There isn’t much to say right now about the Apple v. Samsung design patents case. In a case management order handed down on Tuesday, Judge Lucy Koh disagreed with Apple’s most aggressive suggestions, which would have cut the remand proceedings short (after the Federal Circuit decided that the district court should take a closer look at the record in light of the December Supreme Court ruling). I’m not surprised and I doubt Apple itself was.

Qualcomm’s abuses against all sorts of companies were covered here before [1, 2] and where were groups like OIN while this was going on? Nowhere. Because in practice they are something between “deterrent” and “bloody useless”. To properly address these issues, we need to tackle the underlying issues, which are the patents themselves, notably software patents that Qualcomm still uses and advocates for.

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