EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

09.03.09

Microsoft Has the World’s Biggest Patent Troll, But What’s Up with Google?

Posted in Google, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 6:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: Intellectual Ventures exposed for what it really is about; Google patents its homepage

EARLIER TODAY WE HIGHLIGHTED THE LATEST report about Microsoft's patent troll, Intellectual Ventures.

Blog reports about this are numerous and they may have been sort of derived from this article (published on Tuesday).

Patent-hoarding giant Intellectual Ventures has long beat the drum that it doesn’t file lawsuits.

But now Intellectual Ventures has started selling some of its 27,000 patents to people who aren’t afraid to sue — and in some cases IV will get a share of the prize. It’s a scary scenario for tech companies that may end up in the legal crosshairs, but industry observers say it was only a matter of time.

[...]

It’s a new phase for Intellectual Ventures, which was founded in 2001 by Microsoft Corp.’s top tech guys, Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung. At first, the company took investments (about $5 billion) and bought up patents (now up to 27,000). In more recent years, IV has been cutting licensing deals with big tech companies that are apparently infringing on some of IV’s intellectual property. Intuit Inc., the financial software firm, agreed to pay $120 million for a license in May. Detkin says that IV has brought in about $1 billion in revenue this way. And he and others at IV like to point out that they’ve never once used the cudgel of a patent infringement lawsuit to get a deal done.

With its new practice of selling off patents to third parties, litigation is much more likely. It’s similar to the “catch and release” model used for some time by other patent-holding companies. That’s a friendly sounding name for a threat that goes like this: Take a license because we’re going to sell the patent on the open market — and you never know what unscrupulous and lawsuit-prone troll is going to buy it.

This is the sort of business plan which was conceived by and came about after consultation with Bill Gates, who has his own share in this game. Bernard Swiss describes it as a situation of: “We’ll feed the problem — and profit from it… But we’ll foist the actual risk on to others”

Microsoft’s patent strategy must not be ignored, but the main news today is actually not about Microsoft’s patent hoarding and trolling; it’s about Google’s latest bizarre patent.

In early 2004, Google’s lawyers didn’t have nearly enough to do. A patent on the design of Google’s homepage (AKA its “[g]raphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal”) that they applied for at that time was granted this week.

FFII’s president opines that “There is a need for more patent trolls against Google. They have too much money, and they have too stupid patent agents.” He links to this article which makes is clear that it’s trouble for all in the search market.

As one person puts it, “these new guidelines of the USPTO are apparently still very generous, as the PTO has just granted what seems to be patent on Google’s homepage.”

Over at TechDirt, we find that “look and feel” can now be guarded too using intellectual monopolies. It’s just like that Google homepage patent, where the ‘novelty’ of centering a search box is seen as patent worthy.

There are already concerns over the fact that software can be covered by both copyright and patents, but why not add trade dress to the mix? Via Michael Scott we learn that Fidelity is suing a competing company because its software looks like Fidelity’s, and that the basic look and feel of Fidelity’s software is protected by trade dress.

Where does it ever stop? The double-click is a patent, one-click shopping is a patent, and the progress bar too is a patent. As these two videos show [1, 2], Google does not oppose patents; It is even a member of OIN, which is about countering patents with more patents.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

4 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    September 3, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Gravatar

    Yep, here is a quote from saying that Google’s sinple home page design was pure accident:

    But the original home-page design was dumb luck. In 1998, founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were consumed with writing code for their engine. Brin just wanted to hack together something to send queries to the back end, where the cool technology resided. Google didn’t have a Web master, and Brin didn’t do HTML. So he designed as little as he could get away with.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    September 3, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Gravatar

    BTW, sorry for those who did not see my link, unfortunately the way I insert URLs using angle brackets don’t seem to be working well on BN:
    http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/100/beauty-of-simplicity.html

    FFII’s president opines that “There is a need for more patent trolls against Google. They have too much money, and they have too stupid patent agents.”

    Here is another post on the Patently-O blog on Google and patent reform (the exact same blog that has the post that claimed that Google would be harmed if software patents were banned):
    http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/03/guest-post-patent-reform-needed-more-than-ever.html
    Also consider that as mentioned before Google don’t use it’s software patents offensively much if at all, let along would be harmed if it was banned.
    That blog even have a post on exactly this patent:
    http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/09/googles-patent-on-its-googlecom-home-page.html

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Also consider that as mentioned before Google don’t use it’s software patents offensively much if at all

    That’s what they all say (Red Hat included), but promises are not a legal contact and acquisitions/liquidations change everything.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Not that Google’s patents will be sold or liquidated anytime soon (in fact, likely not for a long time), but yes in general you have to be careful.

What Else is New


  1. The Media Starts Informing the European Public About the Downsides of UPC While EPO Accelerates Its Lobbying for Ratification

    The EPO's shameless UPC promotion takes another step forward as the European press outlets (even television channels) begin to explore the secret deal that's negotiated by patent lawyers (with corporate clients) and patent offices, not the public or any public interest groups



  2. Some Details About How the EPO's President is Rumoured to be 'Buying' Votes and Why It's Grounds/Basis for “Immediate Dismissal”

    Some background information and a detailed explanation of the systemic financial dependency, created by Battistelli at the cost of €13 million or more, which prevents effective oversight of Battistelli



  3. How the Patent Lawyers' Microcosm Continues to Boost Software Patents Filth by Misdirecting Readers, Relying on Highly Selective Coverage

    nder the guise of reporting/analysis/advice the community of patent lawyers is effectively lobbying to make software patents popular and widely-accepted again, based on one single case which they wish to make 'the' precedent



  4. Documents Show Zagreb Police Department in Investigation of Vice-President of the European Patent Office

    Željko Topić's troubles in Croatia, where he faces many criminal charges, may soon become an extraordinary burden for the EPO, which distances itself from it all mostly by attacking staff that 'dares' to bring up the subject



  5. [ES] Interrumpiendo la Propagánda Distractante de Battistelli: los Empleados de la EPO Protestará de Nuevo en una Quincena

    La exágerada extravagancia (desperdicio de dinero) en la Ceremonia de Premiación al Inventor Europeo de la EPO tendrá que competir por atención de los medios con miles de empleados de la EPO (en todaslas sedes de la EPO) marchándo en las calles para protestar por los abusos de la EPO



  6. Windows and Microsoft's Other 'Burning Platforms'

    It's not just Windows for phones that's reaching minuscule market share levels but also Windows, but Microsoft is skilled at hiding this (cannibalising Windows using something people do not even want, then counting that cannibal, Vista 10)



  7. Links 24/5/2016: CRYENGINE Source Code is Out on GitHub, Jono Bacon Leaves GitHub

    Links for the day



  8. Links 23/5/2016: GNOME 3.22, Calculate Linux 15.17

    Links for the day



  9. 'Celebrity' Patent Trolls and the Elusive Battle Against Patent Trolls (or Eastern District of Texas Courts) Rather Than Software Patents

    Some of last week's more important reports, which serve to demonstrate how the system is attempting to tackle a side-effect of software patents rather than the patents themselves (their irrational scope)



  10. The Circus of Patent 'Reporting' (by Omission) on the Subject of Software Patents in the US and USPTO Bias

    look at some of the latest oddities in the US patent system and much of the reporting about software patenting (more or less monopolised by those who profit from it, not harmed by it)



  11. IP3 Demonstrates That Today's Patent Systems Devolve Into a Conglomerates' Game, Won't Protect the Mythical Small Inventor

    Multinational corporations bring together their shared interests and steer the increasingly-inseparable patent systems according to their needs and goals, but has anyone even noticed?



  12. Disrupting Battistelli's Distracting Propaganda: EPO Staff to Protest Again in About a Fortnight

    The overly extravagant (waste of money) EPO European Inventor Award will have to compete for media attention with thousands of EPO staff (in all EPO sites) marching in the streets to protest against the EPO's abuses



  13. Corrupting Democracy? Growing Frequency of Rumours That the EPO's President Battistelli is 'Buying' Votes of Small Member States

    Several sources suggest that rather than appease the Administrative Council by taking corrective action Battistelli and his notorious 'circle' now work hard to remove opposition from the Administrative Council, especially where this is easier a task to accomplish (politically or economically)



  14. [ES] Los Mitos de la EPO ‘Calidad’ de Patentes y de ‘Creación’ de Patentes: Basados en Ventas de Cafe y Trauma

    La carrera hacia el fondo, o la ridícula asumpción de Battistelli de que otorgar más y más patentenes más rápidamente (e.g. usando PACE) sería beneficióso a largo término, puede guíar al final colapse del valor de la EPO y la pérdida de su lárgamente ganada reputación a nivel mundial



  15. Links 22/5/2016: Systemd 230, Debian Installer Alpha 6

    Links for the day



  16. EPO Patent 'Quality' and 'Patent Creation' Myth: Capsule-Based Coffee Sales and Trauma

    The race to the bottom, or Battistelli's ludicrous assumption that granting more and more patents faster (e.g. using PACE) would be beneficial in the long run, may lead to the ultimate collapse of the EPO's value and demise of its long-earned reputation worldwide



  17. Guest Post: How Vista 10 Imposes Itself on Users of Windows

    A reader's experience being nagged by Microsoft, as documented and explained by this reader



  18. [ES] El Notorio Tirano de la EPO, Benoît Battistelli, Se Reune Con Otros Tiranos, Reportes de Que ‘Limpia’ el Consejo Administrativo

    El régimen de Battistelli, talvez la fuente de verguénza más grande, alegadamente está “cortejándo países pequeños/corruptos para asegurárse de que los delegados que votarón contra él serán remplazados”



  19. [ES] Comentadores Anónimos Debaten Si la EPO de Battistelli Puede Revocar las Pensiones de Empleados Que Se Atreveen — GASP — a Buscar Empleo Alternativo

    Una mirada a las causas de desesperación e imensa presión en la EPO, donde las pensiónes pueden ser cortadas como medio de represália y la gente puede ser negada empleo aún después de dejar la Oficina Europea de Patentes (EPO)



  20. [ES] Otra Casi Vacía Presentación de la EPO en La Hague

    El propagandístico “estudio social” de Battistelli (básicamente un montón de engañosas afirmacionesdisfrazadas como ‘investigación’) ayuda a demostrar que los empleados de la EPO no tiene absolutamente fe en la gerencia



  21. Links 21/5/2016: Manjaro Linux RC, Flock 2016 Schedule

    Links for the day



  22. USPTO Ignores a Lot of Cases Against Software Patents to Justify Resumption of More Software Patenting

    The US patent system (USPTO) is so obsessed with granting as many patents as possible -- even bogus patents in areas that are no longer patent-eligible -- that its guidelines are further perturbed and whose appeals board is massively overwhelmed/overworked/understaffed



  23. Notorious EPO Tyrant, Benoît Battistelli, Meets Other Tyrants, Reportedly 'Cleanses' the Administrative Council

    The Battistelli regime, perhaps the biggest embarrassment of Europe right now, is allegedly "courting smaller countries to make sure the delegates who voted against him will be replaced"



  24. Links 20/5/2016: Purism Tablet, ChromeOS PCs Outsell 'Mac'-Branded PCs

    Links for the day



  25. CAFC Rules Against Software Patents But Witness With Horror the Silence From Patent Lawyers (Bias by Omission)

    In an effort to protect software patents in the United States, where these patents came from in the first place (and continue to spread from), patent lawyers pretend not to see cases where software patents get invalidated and instead focus on the rare exception



  26. It's All Just Artificial Distractions From EPO Management, 'Yellow' Union Comes Under Scrutiny Again

    What's happening inside the EPO these days and what meaningless rubbish the management of the EPO would rather have the media obsessed with



  27. Anonymous Commenters Debate Whether Battistelli's EPO Can Revoke Pensions of Dismissed Employees Who Dare -- GASP -- Find Alternative Employment

    A look at causes for desperation and immense pressure at the EPO, where pensions can be cut as means of reprisal and people can be denied employment even after they leave the European Patent Office (EPO)



  28. Australian Productivity Commission's Research Calls for Ban on Software Patents, Davies Collison Cave Calls for Complaints Against This Finding

    As the push against software patents grows in Australia, much to the chagrin of Australian software developers, Davies Collison Cave (patent law firm) publicly calls for opposition, calling its side "the truth" and pretending it represents "Australian innovators."



  29. Links 19/5/2016: Wine-Staging 1.9.10, Android N

    Links for the day



  30. Another Almost Empty EPO Presentation at The Hague

    The propagandistic "social study" of Battistelli (basically a lot of misleading claims disguised as 'research') helps demonstrate that EPO staff has absolutely no faith in the management


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts