03.22.18

Aggressive New Activities of Microsoft-Connected Patent Trolls: Finjan, Intellectual Ventures, and Dominion Harbor

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 5:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trolls' harbour

Summary: The extensive group of Microsoft-connected patent trolls is still very much active; Microsoft funds them, arms them, and gives them instructions while offering people ‘protection’ from them (if and only if they choose Azure)

THE paid-for lie that “Microsoft loves Linux” is pretty pervasive. The Linux Foundation too helps promote/relay/disseminate this lie, more so (or more frequently) after Microsoft paid the Foundation half a million dollars with possibility/likelihood of annual renewal (provided the Foundation does what Microsoft wants). It should be noted that the Foundation pays roughly that same amount/sum of money to Linus Torvalds every year and his ‘boss’, Jim Zemlin, earns even more money than him (and he keeps repeating Microsoft’s lies, for his job is not technical; it’s just to keep this money coming). If Microsoft was to leave the Foundation, that would cost the Foundation more than Zemlin’s salary (north of $600,000 per annum). The Foundation is pretty tight when it comes to money as its expenses (as of 2015) account for about 90% of the money which comes in. This is all in the public domain.

“It’s a form of entryism or what’s better/epically known as “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” (EEE).”The Foundation will never mention Microsoft’s patent aggression and Microsoft is nowadays clever enough to not attack Linux directly but via patent trolls, from which Microsoft offers ‘protection’ (provided you pay Microsoft monthly ‘protection’ fees, in the form of Azure subscriptions, accompanied by Microsoft’s “Azure IP Advantage”, as we explained in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]). As grotesque as that may be, that’s where we are today. It’s a form of entryism or what’s better/epically known as “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” (EEE).

The USPTO is not granting software patents as often as before (because of Alice); but those which it granted over the past couple of decades are still around and trolls rarely need to have these tested in a court of law. They engage in extortion rather than legal battles (settlement with the bully is often a lot cheaper than a legal challenge).

Techrights has spent the past 12 years tracking trolls that are connected to Microsoft; they’re connected in the sense that Microsoft funds them, arms them, and gives them instructions. We wrote about many hundreds of examples to that effect.

Techrights has spent the past 12 years tracking trolls that are connected to Microsoft; they’re connected in the sense that Microsoft funds them, arms them, and gives them instructions.”Trolls would find it hard if they actually had to assert patents in courts, first of all because of Alice and secondly because of TC Heartland. So a lot of their activity we never hear about; it’s done behind closed doors and secrecy is part of the deal. The press will never cover that (it cannot) and it’s estimated that approximately two-thirds of patent aggression never becomes public knowledge. At all. Citing TC Heartland LLC v Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, another patent case is forced to move out of a hostile court. “The court granted counterclaim defendants’ motion to dismiss for improper venue because defendants lacked a regular and established place of business in the district and ancillary venue did not apply,” the Docket Navigator wrote yesterday.

This may be good in cases where actual lawsuits get filed, but it’s of no solace to those who are victims of extortion. Microsoft still engages in extortion, but it’s rarely done directly; Microsoft relies on publicly-traded trolls like Finjan, which engages in patent extortion against almost every Microsoft rival in the security space. If they don’t pay, Finjan will then sue (using software patents). Microsoft is very much complicit in this extortion because for a very long time Microsoft has been a backer (over a decade).

“Trolls would find it hard if they actually had to assert patents in courts, first of all because of Alice and secondly because of TC Heartland.”The patent trolls’ lobby (IAM), which is also close to Microsoft (they still use Windows to run their site and regularly speak to Microsoft veterans), is cheering for this patent troll. IAM euphemistically calls it “NPE” and yesterday it wrote: “Finjan shares jumped yesterday on the news that the company had received the $65 million settlement payout from Symantec following the truce between the two businesses announced at the end of February. That sum, which is one of the largest received in settlement by an NPE in years, might increase in the coming years by a further $45 million. The settlement was announced after what can only be described as an epic litigation tussle between Finjan and Symantec business Blue Coat with two court cases, including a visit to the Federal Circuit, and a deluge of IPRs.”

Using this payment from Symantec Finjan will now go bullying yet more companies that compete against Microsoft. This troll is emboldened.

There are other Microsoft-connected patent trolls that are active. IAM has just written two articles about Dropbox [1, 2], noting that it takes patents from Microsoft’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures. “Since 2012,” it says, “Dropbox has not only kick-started its own patent generation programme, USPTO records show, but has also been on something of a buying spree, featuring transfers from the likes of IBM, Sony and Intellectual Ventures.”

“Microsoft is very much complicit in this extortion because for a very long time Microsoft has been a backer (over a decade).”Finjan too got patents from IBM last year. As for Intellectual Ventures, it had passed literally thousands of patents to a patent troll called Dominion Harbor. Intellectual Ventures is known to have several thousands of satellites/proxies, as reported more than half a decade ago in corporate media. They even go 'hunting' for victims in China. Recently (just earlier this month) this troll received yet more patents from Intellectual Ventures, which had received additional financial support from Microsoft even a couple of years back (the connection there is still very strong and after some resignations it became even stronger).

Yesterday we saw David Pridham from Dominion Harbor (now run by this man-child, who is a chronic liar that not only defames me but has also defamed others) saying that “Google [...] publicly criticizes patents (especially software patents)” (no, it’s not against software patents in general).

“Using this payment from Symantec Finjan will now go bullying yet more companies that compete against Microsoft.”His hatred of firms such as Google is quite a giveaway; the same goes for other staff of this patent troll (whom we observe online).

According to this new press release [1, 2] from RPX, Dominion Harbor — known to be connected to Microsoft patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures — is suing again. Here are the details:

Monument Peak Ventures, LLC (MPV) has filed its first US lawsuits over patents acquired from Intellectual Ventures LLC (IV) as part of the former Kodak portfolio transferred to the Dominion Harbor Enterprises, LLC (DHE) affiliate in February 2017. The new complaints accuse Victor Hasselblad of infringing four of those patents and GoPro and SZ DJI Technology of infringing different sets of five, with two patents asserted across all three suits. The patents generally relate to various aspects of photography, with the post-processing software of GoPro (GoPro Studio Software), Hasselblad (Phocus) and SZ DJI (CineLight), as well as certain GoPro cameras and certain features of SZ DJI’s drone products, accused of infringement. In May 2017, MPV issued a press release announcing a licensing partnership with Swedish IP brokerage and consulting firm Parallel North IP AB as part of a “comprehensive global plan to commercialize” the Kodak portfolio.

So these are the patents that Dominion Harbor got from Intellectual Ventures.

“So these are the patents that Dominion Harbor got from Intellectual Ventures.”We don’t expect the Linux Foundation to ever (again) speak against software patents because many of the sponsors are in favour of them. We certainly don’t expect the Foundation to berate Microsoft for arming and funding the above patent trolls (there are more of them). But at the end of the day, should we really care about what this foundation says? It’s not a GNU/Linux advocacy group but a trade group which just happens to be the steward of Torvalds’ trademark.

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