Microsoft rarely assaults directly
“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”
–Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO
Summary: Microsoft extorts $120 Million out of rival Intuit, using the patent troll it is grooming
ACCORDING TO Glyn Moody, the world’s biggest patent troll — an anti-competitive man [1, 2] who originates in Microsoft — makes his move to make some more money through patent racketeering. Others at Microsoft are still behind him [1, 2], so his firm (essentially a shell) should not be treated an an entity separate from Microsoft. Moody calls it “the Super-Troll” (we called it Übertroll).
As with all patent trolls, the danger is that the more companies accept these proffered licensing deals, the stronger the trolls become. I imagine we’ll see many more such stories leaking out as Intellectual Ventures gains in confidence and ambition.
The big problem is not only that Myhrvold’s an ex-Microsoftie, but that Microsoft is also an investor in the company; this means that we are not going to see Microsoft on the receiving end of Intellectual Venture’s “offers”. But there is a very real danger that at some point the larger supporters of open source will be.
Expect, then, Mr Myhrvold to emerge as public enemy number one for the free software community; it’s just a matter of time now that the super-troll has awoken from its deep slumbers and started to feed on those that foolishly fail to defend themselves.
Moody links to this article which is titled “Intuit Taxed $120 Million by Intellectual Ventures.” It says: “Its latest deal is a licensing agreement with financial software company Intuit Inc. that will bring in $120 million, according to people who have been told about the transaction.” It is worth reminding that it is not possible to cross-license with a patent troll because it hasn’t actual products which may constitute an infringement.
TechDirt complains that the press does not scrutinise such people for the huge damage they cause to the industry.
Aaron Martin-Colby points us to Good Magazine’s softball interview with Erich Spangenberg, considered by many to be one of the more successful “patent trolls” or “non-practicing entities” out there.
In other news of interest, Novell has just earned yet another software patent.
Network content in dictionary-based (de)compression , patent No. 7,554,467, invented by Kasman E. Thomas of Wilton, Conn., assigned to Novell, Inc. of Provo.
Yes, Novell is part of the problem. Its exclusive deal with Microsoft is hinged on software patents and it legitimises them. █