Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Lobby Ups the Pro-Software Patents Propaganda

Nathan Myhrvold



Summary: Intellectual Ventures runs lobbying campaigns while Microsoft is working to ensure it can tax Android and Google is left defenceless

MICROSOFT is a major opponent of whatever it takes for GNU/Linux to win. It is easy to see why. Microsoft probably has the most lose. Just the other day we explained the point about CPTN as proof of Microsoft's hypocrisy when it complains about Google patents (same party line as Microsoft Florian the lobbyist). "Fascinating to see Goog's approach," writes Smári McCarthy, "Microsoft whines about possible #swpat [software patents] bullying"



Glyn Moody published this excellent rebuttal which says:

I've written plenty about why software patents should be resisted where they don't exist, and abolished where they do. But if I wanted further ammunition for my arguments I couldn't hope for a better example of software patent madness than what is happening in the smartphone sector.

[...]

Clearly, what Microsoft fears here is that Google might acquire the patents, and then threaten to cancel the licensing deal with Microsoft unless the latter halts its legal action against companies using Android as the basis of their products.

For Microsoft to complain is pretty rich, of course. Here it is, using patents to attack companies employing Android in an attempt to slow down the uptake of that rival to its own Windows Phone smartphone system. That's a clear abuse of the patent system to dissuade companies from signing up with a competitor (which, interestingly, it doesn't attack directly), rather than to protect real innovation (an aim that was thrown out of the patent system long ago.)

[...]

I mean, let's be consistent here: if you want to abuse the patent system, expect to be on the receiving end of similar abuse. On the other hand, rather more laudably, why not stop abusing, in which case you can take the moral high ground when others start abusing the system to attack you?


Microsoft is meanwhile trying to tax Android from many directions, not just Microsoft (directly). The goal is to make Linux more expensive than Windows. Intellectual Ventures, the world's largest patent troll (which is incidentally derived from Microsoft), is part of the Android patents shakedown and Nokia is probably next, as we correctly predicted. Walter Byrd dropped us these quotes from Microsoft's mole in Nokia, Stephen Elop. Following the deal with Apple [1, 2], which was also covered by the Bill Gates-funded BBC, Elop stated: "We are very pleased to have Apple join the growing number of Nokia licensees. This settlement demonstrates Nokia's industry leading patent portfolio and enables us to focus on further licensing opportunities" (and that comes just days after he named Android in relation to the iPhone). The Microsoft-controlled Nokia has turned into more of a patent parasite (maybe troll in the future) and Walter informed us that "Intellectual Ventures starts anti-reform campaign". Representing the patent troll in its Windows-powered Web site is Microsoft's former CTO. "Intellectual Ventures begins running radio ads equating patent reform with big bank thievery, on DC news radio. A new bill, HR 1249, called the American Invents Act, will scale back business method patents. Naturally, they are opposed (warning: PDF)" (We previously covered this joint lobbying for software patents, too). So... "radio ads equating patent reform with big bank thievery"... Microsoft got fined $40 million after it tried something similar. It was called "trial misconduct".

Let us remember that Intellectual Ventures is behind the patent which is now used to attack and thus deter iPhone and Android developers. Even the New Scientist covered this and there is now a "Bounty set for invalidating Lodsys patents". This patent from Intellectual Ventures leads lawyers to making a meme from Wilson's "Enough is Enough". Groklaw tackles this by hosting a post by Patrick T. Igoe, Esq. and providing further commentary while also showing that software patents which target Free software are in fact being revoked. Quoting Professor Webbink:

On May 19, 2011, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a Final Rejection [PDF] in the reexamination of Trend Micro's U.S. patent 5,623,600 (the "'600 patent"). Groklaw has covered the story of Trend Micro's assertion of this patent from early on, and many of our readers helped identify and contribute prior art relied upon in the reexamination. It strikes us as worthwhile to relay the history of this litigation and this reexamination as an object lesson of what can happen to a patent holder asserting a weak patent.


Trend Micro essentially attacked Free software at the time. There is no patents exemption for software just because it's "open source" and as one person in Twitter pointed out yesterday, "PHP infringes on DuFresne's patents (http://t.co/ng33kTs). Filed almost 1 year after PHP's first release."

In other patent news, Research in Motion has just been sued over patents:

Dolby has filed a lawsuit against Research in Motion for patent infringement, the audio technology company announced today.


One has to wonder what Nokia might do to Research in Motion, not just Google and/or Android distributors. Whatever it does, people are not foolish enough to forget that Elop is Microsoft's mole who is still a top Microsoft shareholder. Under his leadership, Nokia is a Microsoft slave, not an independent company. We've warned about Nokia since 2007 because of its patent policy. Regulators are hopefully watching these abuses from Microsoft.

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