“Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation, he said.”
–IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz
Summary: Microsoft has made a sort of patent troll out of Nokia and Nokia now attacks Linux and Android
Microsoft turned Nokia into an anti-Android/Linux patent troll, as expected. Is anybody surprised? We foresaw this right from the very start. So did others (even those whom Microsoft paid for ‘reports’).
As Florian Müller put it this morning: “As I suspected, the 2013 Nokia-Samsung patent deal is far from comprehensive: litigation still a possibility” (at the time he was still close to Microsoft).
To quote Müller’s blog: “The fact that most of Nokia’s patent assertions against HTC failed (though HTC ultimately felt forced to take a license on whatever terms) may also make prospective licensees feel they should take their chances in court.
“The next Nokia-Samsung announcement, whenever that one may issue, will most likely be a “fish or cut bait” statement. They won’t be talking forever. At some point they will agree or Nokia will sue. I, for my part, would recommend to Samsung (if they asked me, which they obviously don’t) not to overpay.”
“Microsoft also passed Nokia patents to patent trolls like MOSAID (now named Conversant).”So Microsoft loves Linux, right? That’s why it destroyed Nokia after Nokia had ‘dared’ to become a top Linux contributor (almost the number one contributor). Microsoft also passed Nokia patents to patent trolls like MOSAID (now named Conversant).
The report which everyone is likely to cite in the coming days is this one. The Wall Street Journal wrote: “Nokia Corp. expects to gain more than a billion dollars in cash from its intellectual-property portfolio in the next three years, including the proceeds from a patent pact with Samsung Electronics Co. signed more than two years ago.”
Apparently, Nokia wants a lot more money than this. “Nokia is a patent troll now, extorts 1 Billion USD from Samsung,” the FFII’s President wrote this morning. We shall revisit this subject some time later (there are more urgent topics to cover right now). █
“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”
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Publicado en America, Apple, Patents, Samsung at 7:29 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Esta reciente foto de Rick Frenkel (del Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng) nos muestra y recuerda que Frenkel todavía esta combatiendo a los troles de patentes.
Sumario: Eventos reciéntes en el mundo de los trolles de patentes, incluyendo los relacionados a Apple y Linux/Android, donde las batallas de patentes de software persisten y se han convertido en un factor considerable.
La decadencia de Apple puede ser explicada en muchas maneras (Android/Linux tiene mucho que ver con ello). Pero estamos particularmente interesados en la asquerosa estrategia de litigación de patentes de Apple, que motivo nuestro llamado a un BOYCOTT hace media decada (el que seguimos motivando), despues de sus primeros ataques (contra una menos armada HTC). La OEP comparte la culpa aquí como que facilitó muchos de esos ataques por erróneamente otorgar patentes que más tarde fueron encontrada ser invalidas.
Los más vocales proponentes de patentes de software nos han hecho recordar que ¨Samsung va a pagar a Apple aproximadamente $546 millones en daños como parte de una continua disputa de infingimiento de patentes entre los dos gigantes.¨
“La OEP comparte la culpa aquí como que facilitó muchos de esos ataques por erróneamente otorgar patentes que más tarde fueron encontrada ser invalidas.”Esto es acerca de patentes de software. Apple las esta usando para sacar ganancias de productos rivales pero también para prohibirlos. Pero es una espada de doble filo por que Apple también ha sido demandada por un monto similar (medio millón de dolares) por un trol de patentes. Esta vez, como siempre, son patentes de software (los trolles de patentes rarámente usan otra clase de patentes). El desgraciado troll de patentes VirnetX quiere que ej jurado le dé medio millón de dólares de Apple. Hay algo poético acerca de esto, dada las noticias de arriba. Cuando un troll de patentes ataca a Apple, como este nuevo artículo de Joe Mullin ayuda a mostrar, grandes cantidades de dinero son exigidas. ¨Un juicio reciéntemente empezó en el lugar perferido de las patentes: East Texas,¨ escribió Mullin, ¨ y es uno grande. VirtnetX, una compañía poseedora de patentes que dice ser dueña un buen número de ellas relatadas a Networks Privados Virtuales (VPNs), se está enfrentando a Apple.
¨VirnetX dice que la VPN tecnología usada por Apple, así como su mensajero reconocedor de caras, infringen patentes de la compañía. Un jucio comenzó hoy, y VirnetX busca $532 millones en daños.¨
“Esto es acerca de patentes de software. Apple las esta usando para sacar ganancias de productos rivales pero también para prohibirlos.”Hemos escrito mucho acerca de VirnetX y East Texas en el pasado. Esto es un gran ejemplo de lo que las patentes de software hacen a los trolles de patentes.
Hablando de East Texas, parece que el rastreador de trolles de patentes (Rick Frenkel) esta ocupadísimo ahora mismo. Escribió bastante acerca de Fish & Richardson PC, especialmente cuando el padre de trolles de patentes, Sr. Niro los enjuició (antes que Frenkel y su empleador Cisco fueran enjuiciados). Recuerden que lo que trajo problemas al rastreador de trolles de patentes (muchos articulos acerca de esto aquí). Fish & Richardson tuviero que ver mucho con ello directa o indirectamente. Fish & Richardson es una compañía que trabajo por multinacionales como Samsung y Nokia en patentes. Ahora expresa amor de la UPC (hace menos de un día en medios de abogados). La publicación de ellos ayer dice: ¨el próximo gran paso por la UPC sera la selección de jueces. Aproximadamente 1,300 personas han expresado su interés, incluyendo muchos jueces altamente calificados, abogados de leyes y abogados de patentes. El comite preparatorio es esperado adoptar una selección de procedimiento en su reunión de Febrero 24-25, 2016 y comenzar el proceso inmediatamente despues.
“Resulta que el Rastreador de Trolles de Patentes Todavía los esta combatiendo.”Fish & Richardson en sí es una firma de abogados de patentes, y una que representa clientes que les puede traer muchísimo dinero cuando una compañía como Apple, por no hablar de algunos pequeños trolles de patentes, tomen ventaja de la UPC por juicios de gran escala sin fronteras. Tengan esto en mente; ven que podrida esta la UPC; MUESTRA QUIÉN SE BENEFICIARÍA DE ELLA. Por supuesto no las PYMEs europeas.
Suficientemente interesado, Joe Mullin ha escrito esta pieza acerca de trolles de patentes que atacaron Newegg y rápidamente se lamentaron. Resulta que el Rastreador de Trolles de Patentes Todavía los esta combatiendo. Los juicios de difamación en su contra de parte de los trolles no lo han detenido. Ante lo cual nos sacamos el sombrero delante de tan magnífico caballero. Para citar de la de arriba: “Latham & Watkins socio Rick Frenkel, quien representa a Newegg en algunos de sus casos de patentes. Frenkel y Cheng hicieron una parada para barbacoa y pasteles fritos en un reciente viaje a la zona activa de patente de este de Texas “. Buen provecho Señores. █
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This recent photograph of Rick Frenkel (from Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng) shows or reminds us that Frenkel is still fighting patent trolls
Summary: Recent developments in the world of patent trolls, including the relation to Apple and Linux/Android, where (software) patent battles persist and have become a considerable factor
THE decline of Apple can be explained in all sorts of ways (Android/Linux had a lot to do with it). But what we’re particularly interested in is Apple’s nasty patent litigation strategy, which motivated our call for a boycott half a decade ago, some time after the seminal attacks (on a lesser-armed HTC). The EPO shares the blame here as it too facilitated some of these attacks by incorrectly granting patents which were only later found to be invalid.
The most vocal proponents of software patents have just reminds us that “Samsung is going to pay Apple approximately $546 million in damages as part of the ongoing patent infringement dispute between the two technology giants.”
“The EPO shares the blame here as it too facilitated some of these attacks by incorrectly granting patents which were only later found to be invalid.”This is about software patents. Apple is trying to use them not just to tax rival products but also ban these. But it’s a two-edged sword because Apple is being sued for a similar amount (half a billion dollars) by a patent troll. This time, as always, it’s software patents (patent trolls rarely use any other kind of patents). The infamous patent troll VirnetX wants jury to give it a half-billion dollars of Apple’s cash. There’s something poetic about it, given the above news. When patent trolls hit Apple, as this new article from Joe Mullin helps show, big damages are being claimed. “A trial has just kicked off in the patent hotspot of East Texas,” Mullin wrote, “and it’s a big one. VirnetX, a patent-holding company that says it owns wide-ranging rights to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), is facing off against Apple.
“VirnetX says that Apple’s VPN technology, as well as its FaceTime video-messaging, both infringe the company’s patents. A jury trial began today, and VirnetX seeks $532 million in damages.”
“This is about software patents. Apple is trying to use them not just to tax rival products but also ban these.”We have written a lot about VirnetX and about East Texas in the past. This is a great example of what software patents do for patent trolls.
Speaking of East Texas, it turns out that Patent Troll Tracker (Rick Frenkel) is busy there right now. He wrote a lot about Fish & Richardson PC, especially when the father of patent trolling, Mr. Niro, sued them (before Frenkel and his employer Cisco got sued). Recall what got Patent Troll Tracker in trouble (lots of articles about this here). Fish & Richardson had a lot to do with that, even if indirectly. Fish & Richardson is a firm that worked for multinationals such as Samsung and Nokia on patents. It now expresses love of the UPC (less than a day ago in lawyer’s media). Yesterday’s publication from them says: “The next big step for the UPC will be selection of judges. Approximately 1,300 persons have indicated an interest, including many highly qualified judges, attorneys-at-law and patent attorneys. The Preparatory Committee is expected to adopt a selection procedure at their meeting on February 24-25, 2016 and begin the process immediately thereafter.”
“It turns out that Patent Troll Tracker is still fighting patent trolls.”Fish & Richardson itself is a firm of patent lawyers, and one that represents clients who can bring a lot of income when a company such as Apple, for instance, let alone some small patent troll, takes advantage of the UPC for large-scale cross-border lawsuits. Bear this in mind; see who’s rooting for the UPC; it shows who would benefit from it. Nothing at all to do with European SMEs.
Interestingly enough, Joe Mullin has just published this piece about patent trolls that attacked Newegg and quickly regretted it. It turns out that Patent Troll Tracker is still fighting patent trolls. Defamation lawsuits from trolls did not stop him. To quote from the top: “Latham & Watkins partner Rick Frenkel, who represents Newegg in some of its patent cases. Frenkel and Cheng made a stop for BBQ and fried pies on a recent trip to the patent hotspot of East Texas.” █
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Nearly challenging the price of gold now
Phones now a pocket-sized patent thicket
Summary: A roundup of recent news about patents that affect phones in particular, notably patents on software rather than hardware
THE SUBJECT which is software patents hasn’t been covered here recently. It’s due to other important issues. “How to get around software patents” is an article published nearly a week ago. To quote part of it: “Isn’t is possible to work around software patents and use [...] In some cases it is really possible. The Ogg/Vorbis developers have done patent research and hope their format won’t vulnerate patents in the United States.”
“The patent attacks on Chinese companies have led some of them to a pursuit of patents akin to stockpiling.”Well, Apple’s Steve Jobs attacked Ogg, as we wrote here several times in past years (well before Jobs’ death). Don’t forget that, when it comes to patents, Apple is not only a foe of Linux (and by extension Android) but of FOSS as a whole. There’s a long tradition to it, as we showed here over the years.
Earlier this month and later last year we wrote about Xiaomi, a rival of Apple, craving or lusting for patents (perhaps as many as 10,000). Two recent articles from IAM [1, 2] said more about this area, noting that “Xiaomi’s latest gambit in its quest to find sales growth outside of its home market of China was a short-lived one. The company launched its first phones in South Korea last Monday, 4th January, through KT Corporation, the nation’s second largest mobile carrier. Just two days later, the handsets were abruptly pulled from the market, based on what KT described as “legal matters related to sales”. There are several possibilities for what has happened, but given the company’s history of IP troubles, some in the media have wondered whether a patent dispute is behind the setback. If that does prove to be the case, it would raise some serious questions about Xiaomi’s IP strategy and its ability to gauge its own freedom to operate.”
The patent attacks on Chinese companies have led some of them to a pursuit of patents akin to stockpiling. Over a week ago we learned about Huawei and Ericsson signing a patent agreement [1, 2] and it is worth noting that Ericsson uses patent trolls as fronts. “As the battle for patents rages on,” said one report, “and tech giants are at each other’s throats on court, arguing who has the right to use what technology, two companies have extended their agreement to use each other’s patents without much hassle.
“Imagine higher prices on everything (the lawyers’ tax), including mobile phones whose prices are artificially high.”“Those two companies are Ericsson and Huawei and they have, according to a recent press release, extended their global patent licence agreement that includes patents regarding wireless communication technology.”
This new report about Ericsson’s troll, Unwired Planet (formerly Openwave Systems), shows that Ericsson has become a big liability to Android companies. Unwired Planet has become a leading example of patent trolls serving even European companies, or a proxy war with SEPs. This is what UPC would lead to more of (given growing momentum it’s easy to be pessimistic, especially now that UK-IPO and British patent lawyers make decisions behind closed doors), making Europe more accessible to patent trolls from the US as well. To quote lawyers’ media: “The UK government has prepared legislation to give effect to EU legislation on the unitary patent and to the Agreement on the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which backs the creation of a new UPC for resolving disputes over new unitary patents.”
Imagine higher prices on everything (the lawyers’ tax), including mobile phones whose prices are artificially high. That’s where we are today.
Earlier this month, Florian Müller chose to focus again on Apple’s patent war with Android [1, 2]. “Today I received a really interesting Lex Machina press release,” he wrote. “Lex Machina, a LexisNexis company, operates the Legal Analytics platform and claims that companies such as Microsoft, Google, Nike and eBay as well as various top-notch law firms are among its clients. Its new “Patent Trial and Appeal Board 2015 Report” provides lots of insight about last year’s trials before the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patent Trial and Appeal Board, i.e., the USPTO’s in-house court system.” This study, Müller says, shows that Apple and Samsung now use so-called ‘patent death squads’.
“We have written so much about the so-called slide-to-unlock patent, which is effectively a software patent.”In other news [1, 2], “Samsung is appealing its Apple infringement case to the Supreme Court because a very old law is a bad fit with very modern technology” (with the CCIA’s support).
The case, which we have grown quite tired of after half a decade, is still the subject of much media coverage (the latest development is that Apple is suing Samsung for embargoes to be belatedly enforced and technology giants take Samsung’s side [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) and legal sites too.
“Devices that cost just several dollars to make (on the basis of material) end up being sold for almost a thousand dollars in some cases.”As Müller put it earlier this month: “The ’721 slide-to-unlock patent, whose European sibling has already been held invalid by 15 judges, is irrelevant not only because it will likely be held invalid but also because it covers only certain graphical variants of the slide-to-unlock mechanism, but not the slide-to-unlock functionality as a whole.”
We have written so much about the so-called slide-to-unlock patent, which is effectively a software patent. We don’t wish to spend too much time debating it again, but we are gratified to learn that Apple too receives a reminder of the harms of software patents. “Apple has been targeted in a patent infringement complaint centring on its voice recognition technology Siri,” said WIPR the other day.
The bottom line — if there is one — might be that patents are very destructive in the so-called ‘smart’ phone space (smartphone). Devices that cost just several dollars to make (on the basis of material) end up being sold for almost a thousand dollars in some cases. Who benefits from this? █
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Copyright already covers many designs, so why extend so-called ‘protection’ to the vastly broader domain of patents?
Slide to unlock: put it on a computer and you’re apparently a genius deserving a patent
Summary: A fine demonstration of how dumb a lot of patents in the United States have become, including so-called ‘design’ patents that pertain to an abstraction on a computer (hence software patents)
IN SOME sense, many design patents are inherently software patents, as schematics attached to patent applications often serve to show. I have personally reviewed some patents before, so I know how particular lawyers — not programmers — try to give a ‘life’ (or a form) to algorithms by drawing things*. Doodles are not algorithms. They’re often a spurious presentation that attempts to give a physical form to something which is inherently abstract. It can mislead examiners and judges, presumably by intention. Just look at the many post-Alice articles composed by patent lawyers; just look at the tips they’re giving to one another. They almost self-incriminate.
“Doodles are not algorithms. They’re often a spurious presentation that attempts to give a physical form to something which is inherently abstract.”Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols called Microsoft’s latest high-profile patent attack “design patent wars” and said that the “Electronic Frontier Foundation has declared “User Interface for a Portion of a Display Screen” to be this month’s stupid patent. Here’s what’s really going on between Microsoft and Corel over the Office ribbon design patent.”
We wrote about this in last week's coverage regarding Corel. “The EFF named Microsoft’s design patent for a slider as its Stupid Patent of the Month,” one person wrote to us, just over a week after it all happened. But actually, it’s more of a software patent, or something in the blurry line/s between design and software (like interface elements).
“Just because one takes something that has existed for thousands of years before computers (like a fence/gate’s metal or wooden lock) and draw it on a computer with some callback function/s doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make it magically patent-worthy, just as doing something “over the Internet” doesn’t make old and trivial ideas patent-eligible.”Consider today’s patent lawyers’ views [1, 2] about Apple’s attacks on Samsung, which include the infamous slide-to-unlock patent (slider again, amongst other patents). And speaking of sliding, how about the “LANDSLIDE article” mentioned by Patently-O today? “And as a larger policy issue,” said the author, “it’s questionable whether verbal claim dissection is either desirable or appropriate in the context of design patents. The better approach may be, as Chris Carani argued in the LANDSLIDE article mentioned above, to simply instruct juries “that design patents only protect the appearance of the overall design depicted in the drawings, and not any functional attributes, purposes or characteristics embodied in the claimed design.””
We wrote quite a lot about Apple’s so-called ‘design’ patents (in principle software patents) more than half a decade ago when Apple’s patent war against Linux/Android began. When authors mention terms like “design patents” it would only be fair to read or interpret this as software patents, or a particular subclass of these. These patents don’t allude to any physical thing like a bar that you slide, only an abstraction thereof. Just because one takes something that has existed for thousands of years before computers (like a fence/gate’s metal or wooden lock) and draw it on a computer with some callback function/s doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make it magically patent-worthy, just as doing something “over the Internet” doesn’t make old and trivial ideas patent-eligible. Then again, this is what the USPTO brought about with its laughable quality control. █
* I am a software professional with experience both as a programmer and a researcher, having reviewed papers for the world’s top international journals (even in my twenties), which meant I needed to identify prior art (existing/published research) in areas like computer vision and machine learning.
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The Koreans believe that a US court might actually rule against an influential US company
Summary: Remarks about Apple’s relentless attacks on Free/Open Source software (FOSS), using dubious software patents and patents on vague/generic ‘designs’ that probably never ought to have been granted in the first place
THE USPTO-granted patents, especially after the SCOTUS ruling on Alice, are a lot more limited, primarily but not only when it comes to software. Does it mean that SCOTUS can offer redemption to Samsung, and by extension to Android? Well, only if the Apple-connected government actually allows the case to proceed to SCOTUS, which we very highly doubt (see Oracle v. Android [sic] with the government’s now-infamous denial [1, 2, 3]). SCOTUS should really be dealing with important human rights issues and landmark decisions pertaining to civil liberties, not Apple fanatics who almost religiously believe that Apple invented everything (even when the necro-worshiped leader publicly admits "stealing" ideas but still acts like a spoiled brat [1, 2]).
“Samsung may need to waste a lot of money on lawyers and also pursue rather silly patents because Apple is aggressive and is constantly attacking whoever sells the best of Android.”Nevertheless, as we have demonstrated here for a number of years, Apple was stockpiling a lot of software patents after it had struggled with the rise of Android, which is of course based on Linux and is Free/Open Source software (FOSS). Apple attacked Samsung after it had viciously attacked HTC (with a far smaller patent portfolio, hence an easier target). Samsung must now tread more carefully or at least wisely. It needs to be smart, not just pursuing justice at all costs (which can be enormous costs, as has been proven to be the case thus far), so “Samsung is on track to unseat IBM as the number one company when it comes to winning U.S. utility patents,” according to this new article. Another new article, titled “Apple Stealing the Show with New Patents”, says: “As we know Apple frequently steals the show with marvelous patents that it files with the passage of time prior to its new offerings. The number of patents under Apple’s belt is so exceptional and that is why Apple has been appreciated by millions across the globe. The new feather in Apple’s cap is the awe-inspiring patent that the company has filed with the Patent and Trademark Office.”
Samsung may need to waste a lot of money on lawyers and also pursue rather silly patents because Apple is aggressive and is constantly attacking whoever sells the best of Android. All these fees are passed down the customers; phones become more expensive and sometimes, despite market demand and free code already being available (FOSS), key features are removed for fear of litigation. Cui bono? That’s why we even called for a boycott of Apple nearly half a decade ago. It was all to do with patents and these shameless attacks on FOSS. Does Apple even have the humility to claim to be some kind of “Open Source” leader? What ever happened to dignity and adherence to truth? Brand worship won’t last forever if Apple is launching an assault on truth itself.
“Does Apple even have the humility to claim to be some kind of “Open Source” leader?”Anyway, the massive news last night was the latest important move from Samsung. it was covered bty the Wall Street (actually News Corp.) Journal and many other sites, in articles such as:
There are many more articles about this. Is this what ‘innovation’ is supposed to look like? It looks more like protectionism, for those who are affluent and infinitely greedy. What ever happened to the myths of patents as protectors of the ‘little guy’? Well, these were just myths intended to help ‘sell’ an unjust system to the wider public, ensuring consent that is based on misapprehension, misconceptions, and misinterpretations.
Rajesh Vallabh of Foley Hoag (patent lawyers, i.e. those who profit from patents at the expense of everyone else) now gives advice to startups regarding patents. We’re rather appalled that he can write this with a straight face; it was published only in a journal of patent lawyers (for the most part) and it says things like “Patents can be vitally important for protecting the innovations of a start-up company” (and he sounds like he’s actually serious).
Start-ups are massively overwhelmed by trolls (see what happens in the US these days) and also crushed by companies with far more patents, even broader ones. Empirical evidence serves to suggest that the real benefactors in today’s largest patent systems are companies such as Apple. These systems are used for monopolisation, occupation, etc.
“Empirical evidence serves to suggest that the real benefactors in today’s largest patent systems are companies such as Apple.”Nowadays, considering how the patent systems have devolved, patents primarily exist to benefit large multinationals. Just see how the EPO already works primarily for large multinationals and even discriminates in their favour. Those who point this out (hi!) are threatened with lawsuits. Saying this and providing evidence of this thus becomes the unsayable. █
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Summary: Microsoft continues its long journey towards ‘Linux tax’ (or Microsoft tax on Linux) as the ‘standard’ while trying very hard to derail Android and prevent nations from moving to Free/libre software
THE bubble of ‘good’ Microsoft is being burst on a daily basis because the company keeps — and sometimes even enhances — its hostile behaviour, having just taken away software from Android [1, 2], engaged in yet more “embrace, extend, extinguish” tactics against Android, and then started recording Android users remotely (always on), as reported by Mary Jo Foley and other Microsoft propagandists (Microsoft’s special relationship with the NSA notwithstanding). Based on this new article from IAM, there is also a monopoly being shielded here, with the prospect of litigation against Google and others (for royalties or product removal). “A new study by technology consulting and litigation support firm iRunway,” says IAM, “has analysed the patent landscape around speech recognition technology, finding that Microsoft and specialist company Nuance lead the way. The report highlights the growth in patent filings over the last 10 years as companies have made significant strides in the development of technology in this area.” Just watch how Apple has been suing Samsung. It is still pursing high royalties through a settlement. It wants “hundreds of millions of dollars”, as an Apple proponent/Android foe put it. Much of that is for software patents and it is the same strategy Microsoft has been sticking to for much longer than Apple.
Make no mistake about it. There is no 'new' Microsoft except a Microsoft that engages in patent racketeering against Linux and Android. There are only faceplate changes, site changes, logo changes, etc. The company is as aggressive as ever before.
“Make no mistake about it. There is no ‘new’ Microsoft except a Microsoft that engages in patent racketeering against Linux and Android.”Several years ago we noted that Microsoft had promoted Horacio Gutierrez, who is now a Microsoft Vice President. Microsoft was emphasising a litigation route, making it abundantly clear that patent extortion against Linux was a growing strategy. Anti-Linux patent men are once again being promoted inside Microsoft as Smith becomes President. Recall all the anti-Linux rhetoric from him and mind the “astroturf in the comments,” as noted by our reader iophk. Smith is an aggressor, so the way we interpret the news is, anti-Linux litigation is only further promoted (not demoted) as the strategy. Watch what Microsoft has been doing with Tuxera, putting and reinforcing patent tax as part of the ‘standard’ inside Linux. Here is a new press release from Tuxera and partners — a statement which says:
iWedia, a leading provider of software solutions for TV devices to service operators and Consumer Electronics manufacturers, today announced that it has integrated its Linux-based Teatro-3.0 Set-Top Box (STB) software solution for IP-connected zappers with the AllConnect streaming technology of Helsinki-based Tuxera, the market leader in embedded file systems, network storage and streaming technologies.
Well, Tuxera is a Microsoft partner and it pays Microsoft. This is the sort of GPL-hostile future Microsoft is after. Microsoft is trying to make Linux its own cash cow. Yes, cash cow! It’s an assault on the very heart of Free software. It impedes distribution rights.
Speaking of underhanded tactics such as these, the Gates Foundation is being used as a Trojan horse by Bill Gates, who is now an integral part of Microsoft’s management and according to this report China’s “President Xi is set to also have a private dinner with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates before leaving Seattle for Washington.”
Another report says “President Xi will also be visiting and meeting with Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, even before he visits Obama in Washington.”
“That makes Xi look very weak,” iopkh wrote to us. It’s not the first time that this happens. The same kind of story was reported here almost decade ago, back in 2007.
“Yes,” iopkh noted, “it’s happened with other presidents of China. It makes them look very foolish, to keep it polite.”
Our worry is that China will lift its ban (in government) on Office and Microsoft Windows, maybe after some ‘sweet’ (behind closed doors) deal with Gates, who is now officially back at Microsoft (in functional terms). At the moment, China is rapidly moving to GNU/Linux at many levels, not just when it comes to mobile devices but also when it comes to servers and desktops. We wrote a lot about it. China not only explored Free software, but also began moving to it en masse. It’s the world’s largest market and trend setter.
Don’t believe for even a moment that Microsoft has changed for the better. It’s just more discreet about its constant attacks on Free software. █
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Photo source: Intellectual Ventures
Summary: News collated which pertains to software patents, especially those which affect Free/libre software
TODAY’S series of links is divided based on themes, starting with what we deem most important.
Apple’s Attacks on Free Software
Joe Mullin is flabbergasted by Apple’s vicious assault on the Linux-powered platform that reduced the ‘i’ empire to rubble, with at most 18% market share (depending on the source and the geography).
“All that Apple does is dissemination of DRM, maximisation of (weaponised) patents, and exploitation of public ignorance/apathy to ‘sell’ (actually rent) proprietary software on overzealously locked-down hardware.”Android rose to unbeatable levels of dominance despite Apple’s assault (remember that Apple started it 5 years ago) and in one legal case alone there are now “3,200 documents [...] not including exhibits.” Imagine the cost of legal defence here. Apple and Samsung are still fighting in court and “Koh’s recent orders suggest she is fed up with the intense litigation by both parties,” Mullin notes. “The case docket for the first of two Apple v. Samsung lawsuits now has more than 3,200 documents in it, not including exhibits. Last week, Koh issued an order prohibiting the parties from making any further additions without permission.”
This is, at the very least, deterrence. More importantly, it’s Apple greed (it wants billions of dollars from Samsung). Apple is just hoping that companies with pockets less deep than Samsung’s will simply give up and pay Apple for profits made through distribution of Android (Free software). This is clearly an attack on Free software, so anyone still insisting that Apple likes “Open Source” is about as delusional as people who deem ‘i’ products superior and worthy of the high price tags.
Several years ago we openly and unambiguously called for a boycott of everything “Apple”. The company is malicious and it is dangerous to the future of Free software. All that Apple does is dissemination of DRM, maximisation of (weaponised) patents, and exploitation of public ignorance/apathy to ‘sell’ (actually rent) proprietary software on overzealously locked-down hardware.
Rothschild Connected Devices ‘Innovations’
Joe Mullin, covering and citing the original rant from the EFF, expands on Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations, which is essentially a patent troll. He provides some details on what Leigh Rothschild, whom the world’s biggest patent troll (Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft-connected) glamourises, has been up to:
Patent-holding company Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations (RCDI) owns US Patent No. 8,788,090, which was granted in 2014 and describes a system where a “remote server” “transmits” a “product preference” via a “communication module.” Using those broad claims, RCDI has sued more than 20 companies for making things that connect to the Internet. The company sued ADT (PDF) over its Pulse product that allows for things like adjusting a thermostat.
The patent relates to an application filed back in 2006 that essentially describes an Internet drink mixer. A consumer can customize products by connecting to a server on “the global computer network, e.g., the Internet,” which can then “provide product preferences of a user to a product or a mixing device, e.g., a product or beverage dispenser.”
This is an example not just of patent trolling but also software patents, which are the weapon favoured among patent trolls. If the latter can be eliminated, much of the former too will vanish (go bankrupt). This is why we emphasise the need to combat software patents (scope), not just “trolls”, however one defines them (definitions tend to vary somewhat as some very large companies act indistinguishably from classic patent trolls or patent sharks).
There are more new signs of the US patent system tightening. Yesterday for example Foley & Lardner LLP published an analysis of another criterion (not “abstract”) by which patents can be squashed in US courts, even the notorious Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). To quote the analysis: “As noted in the Federal Circuit decision, Dow Chemical Company asserted selected claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,847,053 and U.S. Patent No. 6,111,023 against NOVA Chemicals Corporation (Canada) and NOVA Chemicals Inc. (Delaware). A jury found the asserted claims to be infringed and not invalid, and the Federal Circuit affirmed, holding, among other things, “that the asserted claims were not indefinite.” The district court then conducted a bench trial for a supplemental damages period through the expiration date of both patents, granted $30M in supplemental damages in the form of lost profits and reasonable royalties, and denied Dow’s request for enhanced damages. NOVA appealed, and Dow cross-appealed.”
Earlier this year we wrote about the Nautilus case. This too is relevant here. “Applying the Nautilus standard,” says Foley & Lardner LLP, “the Federal Circuit held that existence of multiple methods that could lead to different results and the absence of guidance in the patent or prosecution history as to which method should be used rendered the claims indefinite because they “fail to inform, with reasonable certainty, those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention.” The court therefore reversed the $30M supplemental damages award.”
This ought to discourage litigation, filing of new patent applications that are similar in nature to the above, and generally feed back (like in a loop) into the US patent system so as to modify examination guidelines, in very much the same way that Alice has done since last year. See this new article titled “After Alice: A Feedback Loop of Software Patent Invalidity”. The article comes from the pro-patents media (whose audience is patent lawyers) and it’s summarised as follows: “Ever since a major patent decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court last year, patents have seemed to be invalidated right and left. But is that a result of the decision itself, or because of the feedback loop caused by the process by which patents are challenged?”
They are trying to dismiss the legitimacy of the decisions by casting them as an “echo chamber” of sorts. Well, that’s what one might expect from the patent profiteers, even thought some patent lawyers’ blogs already acknowledge that software patents may be on their death throes.
IP Kat, a blog run by patent lawyers (and other monopolies like copyrights, trademarks, etc.), is still openly concerned about voices of reason, or published opinions from people who don’t profit from this corrupt system of protectionism by patent monopolies. Watch this latest dismissal of The Economist‘s pair of articles.
“No,” insist sthe patents proponent, “what these articles are ultimately intended for is to try and set the narrative by which the patent system is discussed. To this end, economics is merely a hand-maiden. In so doing, The Economist joins a long tradition. We have seen the struggle to control the patent narrative played out several times in the recent past.”
OK, so the lawyers are upset at an opposing (not dissenting) view and insist that The Economist is basically trolling (in the Internet troll sense of the word). “No,” continue this particular lawyer (second in this blog this week to write about The Economist‘s articles from one month ago), “this Kat is not an IP Luddite. The patent system and the laws underlying it can certainly be improved. But this is not what the two pieces in The Economist are about.”
It was perfectly clear what The Economist meant to say. Rather than tip-toeing and making decorative, minor changes to a broken system (like all of these proposed ‘reforms’ we keep hearing about) the writers/editors at The Economist wish to just scrap the entire lot, potentially starting from scratch (if at all). Seeing the patent lawyers squirm over this very idea is hardly surprising. Their want their share. They want to tax everything, even if nobody needs them at all. █
“We cannot hope to own it all, so instead we should try to create the largest possible market and insert ourselves as a small tax on that market.”
–Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft at the time (now a patent troll)
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