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. Links 16/12/2014: Google and ODF, Civilization: Beyond Earth Comes to GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  2. Bill Gates' Pet Troll Intellectual Ventures is Collapsing as Founder Quits

    Intellectual Ventures founder leaves after an exceptionally large round of layoffs, despite [cref 77299 recent subsidies from Sony and Microsoft]



  3. Keeping Software Patents Out of Europe Following the Demise of Software Patents in the US

    Instability in the EPO seemingly prevents further expansion of patent scope, which is the subject of scrutiny of EPO staff



  4. Links 15/12/2014: OSI 2014 Annual Report, GPLv2 Court Test

    Links for the day



  5. Links 14/12/2014: Calligra 2.9 Beta, Krita 2.9 Beta

    Links for the day



  6. Software Patents Are Dying in the US, But Patent Lawyers Refuse to Admit It

    Patent lawyers continue to distort the reality of software patents' demise in the United States



  7. Links 13/12/2014: Android Wear “Lollipop”, European Commission and FOSS

    Links for the day



  8. Time to Take Microsoft Out of British Aviation Before Planes Crash Into Buildings

    London's mighty Heathrow Airport among those affected by a Microsoft-reliant air traffic control system which is not being able to properly recover from an outage, and not for the first time either



  9. News From France and Germany: Battistelli Under Fire, But Not Fired Yet, Just Firing His Opposition

    The régime headed by Benoît Battistelli and his criminal deputy continues to overthrow or pressure out everyone who is not 'loyal' to the régime



  10. Links 12/12/2014: Linux++, KDE Frameworks 5.5.0, Calligra 2.8.7

    Links for the day



  11. The USPTO is Broken: New Evidence Presented

    The scope of patents, as evidenced by some statistical figures and individual patents, shows that the USPTO is broken and must be reformed or dismantled



  12. US Patent Reform (on Trolls Only) More or Less Buried or Ineffective

    An update on efforts to reform the patent system in the United States, including the possibly imminent appointment of Michelle Lee to USPTO leadership role



  13. Software Patents in Canada Not Dead Yet

    Canada's patent status quo increasingly like that of the United States and Canadian giants like BlackBerry now pose a threat to software developers



  14. Dreaming of a Just Christmas: When a Third of EPO Walks Out to Revolt and European Judges Attack the EPO Over Abuses

    Information about the abuses of Battistelli et al. at the EPO are finally receiving wider coverage and increasing the strain on Battistelli's authoritarian reign



  15. Links 11/12/2014: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 Beta, Firefox 35 Plans

    Links for the day



  16. Ubuntu Core Announcement is Not About Microsoft and Hosting Ubuntu on Azure is Worse Than Stupid

    The power of media spin makes the idea of hosting Free software under the control of an NSA PRISM and back doors partner seem alluring



  17. France Gets Involved in Battistelli's Abuses in the EPO - Part XII (Updated)

    The EPO scandal has officially spilled over to France, where a French Senator got involved and starts asking serious questions



  18. Rolling of Heads Likely Imminent at EPO

    The European patent system is shaking as management breaks the rules, staff is protesting against the management every week, and charges of corruption resurface



  19. Links 11/12/2014: systemd 218, Empire Total War

    Links for the day



  20. Links 10/12/2014: Fedora 21, Ubuntu Core

    Links for the day



  21. Links 9/12/2014: Fedora 21 and Torture Report Are Out

    Links for the day



  22. Exclusive: The Enlarged Board of Appeal Complains About Battistelli's Corrupt Management to the Administrative Council (Updated)

    Text of the complaint from the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) reaches Techrights, demonstrating just how rampant the abuse in Battistelli's EPO has become



  23. Protests Against EPO Corruption Approach 1,000 in Attendance

    EPO staff at all levels is revolting against the management of the EPO, whose dismissal seems to be only a matter of time



  24. Links 9/12/2014: Greg Kroah-Hartman Interview, Fedora 21 Imminent

    Links for the day



  25. EPO Staff Protests Today and Protested Last Week, Targeting Corruption in the Institution

    PO staff is demonstrating against abuse by the management of the EPO, today we well as in prior days



  26. Links 7/12/2014: New Linux Release, Marines and Prisoners on GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  27. EPO Scandal: Benoît Battistelli's Arrogance Recognised by European Delegations

    Battistelli’s Nixon moment and the evasive nature of his approach towards external delegations that are troubled by his behaviour



  28. CBS Brushing Aside and Away Microsoft's History of Blackmail and Bribes Against Linux

    Putting in context some of the poor reporting (or whitewash) regarding Microsoft's bribe (disguised as "partnership") to Barnes & Noble



  29. Links 7/12/2014: Typhoon Hagupit, AURORAGOLD

    Links for the day



  30. EPO Imploding: Battistelli Throws a Fit at EPO's Investigation Unit

    Patent institution of Europe is showing signs of tear as protests intensify and suppression of these protests -- as well as suppression of investigation -- intensifies as well


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