Myhrvold & Gates: Monopolists, Trolls
Some readers might remember Nathan Myhrvold [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], whose business is similar to that of Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. In both cases, ‘shell companies’ with nothing but patents are pursuing wealth by threatening and subjugating large companies which actually produce real products. In both cases, namely these of Intellectual Venture and Acacia, former Microsoft employees are involved. The Seatlle P-I has just diverted attention to the following article. It suggests that Bill Gates is backing Intellectual Ventures. This means that he can funnel money and use them to attack competitors. Acacia has already launched a legal attack on GNU/Linux. Here is the portion of interest:
The concept, which Intellectual Ventures presented this summer to the American Nuclear Society, would reduce the need for costly uranium enrichment and reprocessing, cutting the risk of weapons proliferation. The firm has a team of 30 engineers and scientists refining the concept, not to mention a big-name backer: Bill Gates.
Remember that Bill Gates is far from retired. Now that he’s not ‘distracted’ by the boring technical details, he can concentrate more on manipulation, mischief, and political games [1, 2, 3]. He may have been involved in the SCO saga [1, 2, 3, 4] and given his newly-found affection/addiction for software patents, it’s wiser to consider him a potential patent troll (or supporter of some, i.e. troll by association). Because he is not a company, he needn’t publicly disclose movements of money. To an extent, the same goes for his protected-from-tax fund, the ‘per charity’.
Microsoft’s New Business Model
Relentlessly and carelessly, Microsoft continues to patent (or pursue a patent on) every algorithm under the sun. Here is the latest example.
Microsoft watchers have spotted two patent applications covering ways to manage the amount of information a browser logs.
When introduced the privacy mode will match features found on other browsers.
Australian blogger Long Zheng has found two patent applications made by Microsoft on 30 July for ideas it calls “Cleartracks” and “Inprivate”.
We shall see if Microsoft and its patent allies become the next SCO.
Killing the Problem at Its Root
Cisco’s former PR manager, along with the company’s VP of worldwide intellectual property denied directing the now-defunct and controversial patent troll blog. Former PR Cisco spokesperson, John Noh, along with Mallun Yen are being sued for defamation by Texas attorney Eric Albritton. According to Marketwatch, Albritton claims that the Patent Troll Tracker blog, which was authored by former Cisco IP Director Rick Frenkel, called his ethics into question.
India's protest against software patents is only a couple of days away. Get you Web banners, stickers and t-shirts here. The Free Software Foundation’s top man, Peter Brown, has just published this article about ending software patents.
On Thursday May 8, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), in an en banc hearing listened to oral arguments in In Re Bilski. The Bilski case is where the legal battle over software patents in the U.S. is currently being fought, and is particularly important because the court has specifically requested guidance on the scope of patentable subject matter. This “en banc” hearing is a very rare occurrence; it means all twelve judges of the court participate in the hearing and will consent or dissent with the majority ruling.
In reaction to the hearing, ESP director Ben Klemens said, “We can be relatively optimistic about the odds that the courts will actually eliminate patents on intangibles like software. There will be twelve judges hearing Bilski’s case, and only five of them are guilty of bringing us into this mess, and all twelve are aware that the Supreme Court will overturn a ruling that doesn’t do enough.”
“I would much rather spend my time and money and energy finding ways to make the Internet safer and better than bickering over patents.”
–Dean Drako, Barracuda’s CEO