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Microsoft Takes Software Patents Agenda Up a Notch

Global map in red shades



Summary: Microsoft's very own patent troll rakes in billions in extortion money while Microsoft's patent bully calls for software patents everywhere

FOR TWO CONSECUTIVE quarters Microsoft's earnings have fallen by a third [1, 2], so the company scrambles to find new ways of making money. The most obvious way for Microsoft to do so is not by creating new cash cows but by milking someone else's cow. Microsoft is primarily a marketing/legal software company, so software patents have usually been viewed by it as favourable to monopolists in their professional area (there are exceptions, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]).



The history of Microsoft's software patent strategy is a subject that we covered last year and it includes patent trolling using entities external to Microsoft. Benjamin from the FFII describes Intellectual Ventures as "a monster troll with 27.000 patents and 362 satellite companies." It is Microsoft's patent troll, created by Nathan Myhrvold with the support of Bill Gates. It is now extorting Microsoft's rivals and here is a little summary:

Intellectual Ventures (IV) has insisted for a long while that its accumulation of patents has nothing to do with patent litigation. In fact, the company has prided itself on not filing any lawsuits, despite the claim that its patent portfolio, comprising 27,000 patents, has brought in over $1B in licensing revenue. Recently, IV was rumored to have struck a $120M patent deal with Intuit Inc., and also struck deals with companies like Cisco and Verizon for between $200M and $400M apiece.


Here is a long report about Intellectual Ventures. It is a leech which produces nothing and taxes everything.

vancept LLC created the Intellectual Ventures Report in 2007, the first publicly available report of its kind. Prior to Avancept's report, the public perception of the Intellectual Ventures' portfolio was that it was simply unknown and unknowable, even though patent ownership is publicly available information. Avancept applied skills and techniques mastered through more than 30 years experience in law, business, technology, and journalism to uncover a tremendous amount of information about Intellectual Ventures. We are now pleased to offer a 655-page report detailing our findings.


For quite some time now, Microsoft has been lobbying for the Community patent, which virtually makes a Europe-wide patent system. Microsoft's lobbying blog is now calling for a global patent system. Behind this call we find Microsoft's main patent bully, Horacio Gutierrez (whom Microsoft promoted as a symbolic gesture to its new strategic focus). CNET and ZDNet have some coverage:

A senior lawyer at Microsoft is calling for the creation of a global patent system to make it easier and faster for corporations to enforce their intellectual property rights around the world.

In a blog posting on Tuesday, Microsoft's Deputy General Counsel Horacio Gutierrez said that a backlog of patent applications internationally was needed to tackle the 3.5 million pending patent applications around the world — including around 750,000 in the US.


Benjamin (FFII President) actually thinks that "It is a good idea, especially to get rid of their infringing products."

He adds: "A global patent court now! Otherwise there is too much forum shopping between Texas and Dusseldorf! We need legal certainty."

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