05.10.16

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IBM is Not a ‘Patent Troll’ But Increasingly, Over Time, Troll-Like

Posted in IBM, Patents at 1:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When products aren’t selling those who have amassed patents weaponise them and tax the rivals’ products

Ginni Rometty

Photo source (modified slightly): The 10 Most Powerful Women in Technology Today

Summary: Groupon, which has come under a software patents attack from IBM, strikes back and spin sites like IAM keep denying that the term “patent trolls” means anything at all

EARLIER this year we chastised IBM for attacking companies using software patents. What became mainstream news today is “Groupon counters IBM over software patents.” We found many articles about it this morning [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and they indicate that IBM’s victims are fighting back. IBM’s ‘blowback’, so to speak, did not sink the stock or anything like this [1, 2], but surely this will generate negative press for IBM.

“We don’t call IBM a “patent troll”, but some pundits do (John Dvorak for instance called them the biggest patent troll).”When thugs like IBM attack using software patents (whilst actively lobbying for them) they essentially put pressure on other companies, including those not enamoured with/fond of patents, to file for ‘defensive’ patents, perpetuating the problem. Now that IBM is openly attacking legitimate companies using such patents (and surely extorts others) one can hope that IBM will go bankrupt fast, or alternatively appoint a new CEO who doesn’t choose to be a bully. Some pundits now call IBM a "patent troll", which definitely harms IBM’s reputation and ruins the brand.

If anyone among our readers chooses to cancel a contract with IBM (one probably should) or refuse/reject their marketing people, tell them it’s due to patent aggression as this can definitely help change their policy. Looking for someone to blame for IBM going rogue, lobbying for software patents and attacking legitimate companies using software patents? Blame Manny Schecter as well, not just the CEO. He’s the company’s patent chief and he has been rather outspoken as of late against any nation which rejects software patents.

We don’t call IBM a “patent troll”, but some pundits do (John Dvorak for instance called them the biggest patent). Some also call Yahoo a potential “patent troll”, so IAM — partly funded by patent trolls — attacks them. To quote IAM: “While we wait to see how potential acquirers value the IP, some in Silicon Valley are getting worked up about just what might happen to those patents. Last week the well-known tech journalist and author Steven Levy published a piece on his Backchannel blog which asked, “Will Yahoo become a patent troll?””

“Microsoft even has a standalone patent troll entity called “Microsoft Licensing”, putting aside all sorts of satellites and other patent trolls is uses to blackmail rivals.”It’s not news that IAM is a trolls denialist. To quote the concluding paragraph: “There will no doubt be many more column inches – on this blog and elsewhere – written on the Yahoo sale before it reaches its conclusion. Hopefully it will give members of the patent and investor communities an opportunity to discuss just how a public company – failed or otherwise – should properly value its intangible assets particularly in the current climate. But please, whatever happens, lets leave the troll moniker out of it.”

As we have seen in the case of Nokia after Microsoft had hijacked it, Nokia patents could be passed to patent trolls who later also paid IAM (literally, the same troll in the case of MOSAID). In today’s IAM output one can also see/learn that it has “been widely reported in Chinese-language (and, increasingly, English-language) media over the past few days that Huawei may be receiving hundreds of millions of US dollars in patent licensing fees from Apple.” Given what Nokia has done to Apple and what Apple has done (and is still doing) to many Linux-centric companies, it’s hard to find any sympathy for any of these companies. They put patents before products as time goes on and sales of actual product are harder to make (Apple has suffered a significant decline recently). While we never called companies like IBM, Yahoo, Nokia or Apple “trolls”, some people do call them that and to a certain degree it’s indeed trolling given how they position themselves. Microsoft even has a standalone patent troll entity called “Microsoft Licensing”, putting aside all sorts of satellites and other patent trolls is uses to blackmail rivals.

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