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

09.09.09

Microsoft Wants to Attack Linux Using Patents, via Proxies/Trolls — Claim

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, Kernel, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”

Bruce Perens

Summary: OIN scoops up Microsoft patents that were put up for grabs (potentially by patent trolls); similarity to Intellectual Ventures seen

THERE ARE quite a few patent trolls that are associated with Microsoft. For Microsoft, this is a convenience because its rivals suffer from such trolls.

An interesting and highly-cited report from the Wall Street Journal shows that OIN has just acquired ‘anti-Linux’ patents that Microsoft put up for sale. To give some background:

Microsoft Corp. has suggested in recent years that companies using the Linux computer-operating system might be violating Microsoft patents. Now, in an effort to avert any legal threat that might discourage the adoption of Linux, a group of Microsoft rivals is about to acquire a set of patents formerly owned by the software giant.

This article lacks sufficient interpretation of what might be happening here. To quote The Inquirer:

Their plan is to avert legal threats that might discourage the adoption of Linux by buying up a set of 22 patents formerly owned by Microsoft.

But that’s not the whole story. As Groklaw puts it:

Microsoft tried to auction off some patents that they claim relate to Linux. Patent trolls could have bought them. Instead Open Invention Network (OIN) got them. Why would Microsoft wish to get rid of 22 patents that it presumably could sue Linux over? Let’s try to imagine what might have happened.

Let’s pretend you are Microsoft, and you want to be evil. Of course, Microsoft never would be. They are internationally known for fair dealing with all their competition, particularly Linux. But let’s pretend.

OK. So you are Evil Microsoft and you decide it’s too difficult and dangerous to sue Linux yourself. Antitrust annoyances, counterclaims, and PR and all that. What to do with that patent portfolio to really cause trouble for Linux, without having your fingerprints all over it?

Eureka! You could sell the patents to patent trolls, and let *them* be the bad guys. Is that not perfect if you are evil? Not that Microsoft would ever be evil. We all know there is a New Microsoft in the land.

There is some other coverage out there, including some from the 451 Group, which adds:

If true it won’t be the first time the OIN has acquired patents in the name of protecting Linux: it was formed for that purpose and it previously did so in 2006, and also last month launched its Distinguished Inventors Patent Acquisition program to acquire patents from individual inventors.

The fact that these patents were previously owned by Microsoft adds a twist to the tale, however. The WSJ cites Dave Kaefer, general manager for intellectual-property licensing at Microsoft, as saying that the patents were acquired from Silicon Graphics and were sold because they weren’t strategic to the company.

Those newly-acquired patents may not do much to ‘protect’ as there are many software patents out there. Had IBM not lobbied for software patents [1, 2] (there is now some coverage of this in TechDirt), it would have been possible to eliminate this problem altogether, at its root. IBM has a lot of influence in this area and it is misusing that position of power.

Meanwhile, to quote David Gerard’s summary, Microsoft has Intellectual Ventures run a “Patent Protection Racket.” Yes, he calls it “protection racket”, just as Mike Masnick called it a “pyramid scheme” and his colleague Tim Lee explains how it all works.

Until recently, one of the few points Myhrvold could make in his own favor is that he hadn’t started suing firms that declined to license his patent portfolio. I say “until recently” because we’re now learning that the lawsuits have started. IV has begun selling off chunks of its patent portfolio to people like Raymond Niro with well-deserved reputations for being “patent trolls.” Threatening to sell patents to a third party who will sue you is more subtle than threatening to sue you directly, but the threat is just as potent. Myhrvold’s “sales pitch” to prospective licensees just got a lot more convincing.

The fundamental question we should be asking about this business strategy is how it benefits anyone other than Myhrvold and the patent bar. Remember that the standard policy argument for patents is that they incentivize beneficial research and development. Yet IV’s business model is based on the opposite premise: produce no innovative products, spend minimal amounts on research and development, and make a profit by compelling firms that are producing products and investing in R&D to pay up. Not only does this enrich Myhrvold at everyone else’s expense, but it also reduces the incentive to innovate, because anyone who produces an innovative product is forced to share his profits with Intellectual Ventures. Patents are supposed to make innovation more profitable. Myhrvold is using the patent system in a way that does just the opposite. In thinking about how to reform the patent system, a good yardstick would be to look for policy changes that would tend to put Myhrvold and his firm out of business.

Nathan Myhrvold and Bill Gates actually did innovate; they invented large-scale patent racketeering. As we’ve shown at the start, Microsoft too is seemingly using the same methods as Nathan Myhrvold/Intellectual Ventures, in order to extort Linux.

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

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

What Else is New


  1. EPO Suicides Greater in Number Than is Widely Reported, Unjust System a Contributor to These

    The horrible regime of Benoît Battistelli has an enormous human toll (fatalities), far greater than the Office is willing to publicly acknowledge



  2. Lobbying Disguised as 'Reporting' by the Patent Microcosm, Which Wants More Patents and More Lawsuits (Lawyers Needed)

    A rebuttal to some new articles about patents, especially those that strive to increase patent-related activities (usually for personal gain)



  3. USPTO Echo Chamber That Lacks Actual Software Professionals Deciding on Patentability of Software

    A look at yesterday's "Roundtable on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility," which lacked involvement from those actually affected by patents rather than those who sell, trade, and exploit these



  4. More Examples of Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Taxing Linux, Even After Microsoft 'Joined' (Paid) the Linux Foundation

    A quick look at the past week's news and clues about Microsoft's (and its broad army of patent trolls) strategy for taxing Linux, or imposing bundling at zero cost (to Microsoft)



  5. Heiko Maas, the SPD “Cash for Access” Affair, and Suspicions of Unwarranted Censorship at IP Kat (Again)

    Unsayable views or just a glitch? Readers of IP Kat express concern about a culture of censorship at IP Kat



  6. Endgame for Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Battistelli turns bad into worse by spitting on the very notion of accepting justice (from the highest court in The Hague or even the UN in this case)



  7. Les Échos Chamber: Having Corrupted the Media (With EPO Money), Battistelli Now Uses It for More UPC Propaganda

    The lies about the Unitary Patent are now being broadcast (Battistelli given the platform) by the publication that Battistelli pays



  8. Rumour: EPO in Berlin the Next Casualty of Battistelli's 'Reform' (Organisational Suicide Plan)

    Months after we learned that a former staff representative in Berlin had been dismissed we come across an anonymous claim that Berlin's 'branch' of the EPO will be folded onto Munich's



  9. Caricature: the Maas App

    The failure of Maas to even bother with regulation of Battistelli (among others) earns him this cartoon



  10. Links 5/12/2016: Linux 4.9 RC 8, DeepMind as FOSS

    Links for the day



  11. Leaked: Battistelli Acknowledges Bunk 'Justice' in About 100 Cases at the Internal Appeals Committee of the EPO

    A look at Battistelli's response to the latest from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), exceptionally delivering two decisions at the very end of last month



  12. The UPC Scam Part V: Unitary Patent Regime a Fantasy of Patent Trolls

    "Good for trolls" is a good way to sum up the Unitary Patent, which would give litigators plenty of business (defendants and plaintiffs, plus commissions on high claims of damages) if it ever became a reality



  13. EPO at a Tipping Point: Battistelli Quarrelling With French Politicians, Administrative Council Urged to Act, Staff Unrest Peaking

    The latest messages about Battistelli's regime at the EPO, which faces growing opposition from more directions than ever before



  14. Quality of Patents at the EPO Dependent on the Appeal Boards When Battistelli Assesses Performance Using the Wrong 'Production' Yardstick

    A look at some recent articles regarding patent quality in the US and in Europe, in particular because of growing trouble at today's EPO, which marginalises the appeal boards



  15. Microsoft's Push for Software Patents Another Reminder That There is No 'New' Microsoft

    Microsoft's continued fascination with and participation in the effort to undermine Alice so as to make software patents, which the company uses to blackmail GNU/Linux vendors, widely acceptable and applicable again



  16. Links 5/12/2016: SparkyLinux 4.5 Released, Kondik Exits Cyanogen (Destroyed After Microsoft Deal)

    Links for the day



  17. Software Patents Continue Their Invalidation Process, But Patent Law Firms Try to Deny This in Order to Attract Misinformed (or Poorly-Informed) Clients

    A roundup of news about software patents and demonstration of the sheer bias in the media, which is mostly controlled or steered by the patent microcosm rather than actual inventors



  18. Patent Trolls of Microsoft and Ericsson Are Trying to Tax Everything, Especially Linux Devices

    An update on Intellectual Ventures and Unwired Planet, whose operations pose a growing problem for Free software and Linux-based products (e.g. Android)



  19. Asia's Patent Litigation Chaos Getting Worse, Reaching Countries in the West, and Sites Like IAM Actively Promote This

    The race to the bottom (of patent quality) in China, the growth of patent trolls in the region, and the ruinous litigation strategy which now spills over even to the US -- through the Eastern District of Texas -- and may inevitably come to Europe (especially if the UPC ever becomes a reality)



  20. More French Politicians Are Complaining That Benoît Battistelli is a Disgrace to France and Urge for Action

    The backlash against Battistelli spills well outside the EPO and is now apparent even at the French National Assembly



  21. Links 3/12/2016: Mageia 5.1 Released, Mozilla Revenue at $421.3M

    Links for the day



  22. Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) Sees Decline in Patent Applications and It May Actually be a Good Thing

    Challenging the false belief that the more patents society has the better off it will be, citing examples and news from north America



  23. Blockchain Domain Infested With Software Patents, MasterCard Among the Culprits

    Worrying signs that an area of Free/Open Source software innovation is getting impacted by the plague of software patents



  24. Dutch Media Covers Latest EPO Scandals, German Media Totally Absent (a Media Blackout of Convenience)

    Our observations regarding the apparent media disinterest in EPO scandals, especially at the very core of the EPO (principal host country)



  25. Relocating the Boards of Appeal to Haar is a Poisonous Priority at Battistelli's EPO

    Revisiting Battistelli's effort to chop off the appeal boards that are necessary for ensuring patent quality at the EPO



  26. Links 2/12/2016: Mint Betas, Chrome 55, KDevelop 5.0.3, PHP 7.1.0

    Links for the day



  27. The Rule of Law and Justice Don't Exist Inside the EPO, Confirms the International Labour Organisation (ILO)

    Further analysis of the latest rulings from the ILO -- decisions that were long expected



  28. A Day in the Life of... Battistelli's Banana Republic

    This is part 5 of a fictional diary from the EPO



  29. Links 1/12/2016: Devuan Beta, R3 Liberates Code

    Links for the day



  30. Two ILO Decisions on EPO Cases Are Released, at Least One Judgment is Considered Good for Staff

    Years later (as justice is too slow, partly because of the EPO, being the principal culprit that clogs up the ILO's tribunal system) there is a couple of new judgments about EPO abuses against staff


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