Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft's Young Siblings Harness Software Patents

UNIX-based"Hey, Steve, just because you broke into Xerox’s store before I did and took the TV doesn’t mean I can’t go in later and steal the stereo."

--Bill Gates, Microsoft



Here is a quick summary of software patent news, with particular emphasis on Microsoft-affiliated companies.

The Microsoft/Blackboard Software Patent Abuser



As background on this topic consider this post. Blackboard was later mentioned in [1, 2, 3]. It was funded by Microsoft.

After a great deal of terror and harassment in its sector, Blackboard finally suffers a defeat. [via Groklaw]

All 44 Blackboard Patent Claims Invalidated by USPTO



[...]

This decision actually should have come before the trial verdict but was held up because the USPTO had to decide what to do about the separate filings from D2L and SFLC. Now, in addition to the fact that Blackboard will be able to argue against the ruling with the USPTO, there are a number of questions regarding how this affects the court case.


The Acacia Patent Troll



Acacia, which accommodates former Microsoft employees [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], has just acquired yet another very generic and broad weapon. [kudos to Doug Mentohl]

Acacia Subsidiary Acquires Rights to Patent for Videoconferencing Technology



[...]

This patented technology relates to videoconferencing systems and services based on the Internet.


Watch this older gem:

Acacia’s Digital Media Transmission or “DMT” technology involves the transmission and receipt of digital audio and/or audio video content via a variety of means including the internet, cable, satellite, and local area networks. Elements of the DMT transmission process include a source material library, identification encoding process, format conversion, sequence encoding, compressed data storage, and transmission. Elements of the DMT receiving process include a transceiver, format conversion, storage, decompression, and playback.


It seems to become a question of "who do you want to sue" rather than "who you can sue." It's sad to see such fundamental ideas getting to become a property of a company without any products but a patent portfolio.

USPTO: Nothing to See Here, Please Move Along



The beauty in one's own reflection. Thy name is USPTO. Here are some bits from a new interview with a US Patent Office chief.

On software patents: "Software, biotechnology, business methods--In the United States, the Supreme Court has consistently held that those are areas where there should be patents, and those industries have flourished.

"Specifically with open source, I think the two should coexist very well. If someone gets a patent, then that intellectual property has to be respected, but so long as that patent isn't used, open source can be as open as it needs to be. You can license some (patents) and not license others. There are some who feel by definition you should only have open source or only have a patented model. The administration's position has always been that...both open source and patents help innovation thrive."


How mystifying. Has the software industry really "flourished" as a result of software patents? That's what the USPTO seems to be arguing here. Maybe by "industry" this man referred to "trolls industry" or "selected elites" (monopolies).

In case you wonder why we track smaller companies like Acacia and Blackboard, consider the recent Yahoo debacle. Microsoft uses proxies to wrap its body around its victim, just like a python.

Software patent on rise

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