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. Links 30/8/2016: Fedora 24 Reviewed, Ubuntu Patched

    Links for the day



  2. Links 29/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC4, Maru OS Source Code

    Links for the day



  3. Let Them Eat Patents

    A reality check regarding software patents and regarding those who truly benefit from an expensive patent system with an even more expensive litigation process/proceedings



  4. Nothing Whatsoever Has Improved at the European Patent Office, It's Just Summer's Recess (and Silence)

    The European Patent Office (EPO) has done absolutely nothing to improve the work atmosphere, it just alters the marketing strategy somewhat



  5. Links 28/8/2016: Q4OS 1.6, ConnochaetOS 14.2

    Links for the day



  6. The United States Has Gotten Over Software Patents

    A roundup of new articles about software patents in the United States, 2 years into the post-Alice era (the US Supreme Court deeming patents on software too abstract to have merit)



  7. More Lies From President Benoît Battistelli and the EPO Crisis Which Continues to Deepen

    The European Patent Office (EPO), collectively speaking, is still wrestling with a Battistelli infiltration (a circle of high-level managers) which habitually lies and viciously attacks those who dare counter these lies



  8. Links 27/8/2016: Torvalds and GPL, “DOD Must Embrace Open-Source Software”

    Links for the day



  9. Links 26/8/2016: Maru OS Resurfaces, Android More Reliable Than 'i' Things, PC-BSD Becomes TrueOS

    Links for the day



  10. Good Job, David Kappos, Says the 'Boss' (IBM)

    Responses to the latest call against Alice (eliminator of many software patents), courtesy of the man from IBM (still paid by IBM) who was responsible for the policy that blindly approved a lot of software patents in the US



  11. Being for Patent Quality or Against Patenting Excess Does Not Make You Anti-Patents

    Like IAM, which tries to portray sceptics and critics of software patents as "anti-patents", IP Watchdog (or Watchtroll as we call it) is 'trolling' the Electronic Frontier Foundation, simply because it expressed an opinion that patent maximalists cannot tolerate



  12. Erosion of Patent Quality Enables Patent Extortion With Large Portfolios of Low Validity Rate

    Revisiting the EPO's vision of poor patent examination and the effect of discriminatory granting practices, favouring patent bullies such as Microsoft (which actively attacks Linux using low-quality and usually pure software patents)



  13. The EPO's Francesco Zaccà Presenting in Turin Alongside Patent Trolls (Like the Patent Mafia Sisvel) and Lobbyists/Front Groups for Software Patents, UPC

    Benjamin Henrion (FFII) on seeing the EPO alongside patent trolls and other nefarious actors, doing what they do best, which is undermining public interests and harming patent quality



  14. The EPO, USPTO, and Patent Microcosm Peddle Myths About Patents in Public Universities and Research

    Tackling some of the commonly-spread myths about patents as "saving lives" and "promoting research" (in practice leading to the death of poor people and promoting trolls)



  15. Large Corporations' Lobbyist David Kappos Disgraces Former Employer USPTO by Meddling in Their Affairs on Software Patents, Downplaying the Supreme Court

    The latest lobbying from David Kappos, who blatantly exploits his connections in patent circles to promote software patents and work towards their resurgence after Alice v CLS Bank



  16. Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice Calls the European Patent Office “Rotten”, Other Sources Scrutinise Recent Moves

    The patent office which was once known for being the best bar none is rotting under the Frenchman Benoît Battistelli, who made himself and his friends the main clients of the Office



  17. PTAB Emerges as Hero of USPTO Because Quality of Patents Improves, Software Patents Are Effectively Dead (or Dying Once Reassessed)

    With help from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) -- not just patent courts -- software patents drop like flies by the thousands



  18. Creative Technology, Now Operating in 'Patent Troll' Mode, Shot Down by the ITC; Jawbone Too Shot Down

    Some good news from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which may have put an end to Creative's new war on Android (using old patents)



  19. Corporate Media in India Misrepresents Startups to Push for Software Patents

    A parade of misinformation as seen in Indian (but English-speaking) press this week as questions about patentability of software resurface



  20. Links 25/8/2016: Linux Turns 25, NetworkManager Turns 1.4

    Links for the day



  21. Links 24/8/2016: More From LinuxCon, Uganda Wants FOSS

    Links for the day



  22. Links 23/8/2016: GNOME 3.22 Beta, Android 7.0 Nougat

    Links for the day



  23. The Linux Foundation Gives Microsoft (Paid-for) Keynote Position While Microsoft Extorts (With Patents) Lenovo and Motorola Over Linux Use

    This morning's reminder that Nadella is just another Ballmer (with a different face); Motorola and Lenovo surrender to Microsoft's patent demands and will soon put Microsoft spyware/malware on their Linux-powered products to avert costly legal battles



  24. Not Just President Battistelli: EPO Vice-Presidents Are Still Intentionally Misrepresenting EPO Staff

    Evidence serving to show that EPO Vice-Presidents are still intentionally misrepresenting EPO staff representatives and misleading everyone in order to defend Battistelli



  25. Battistelli the Liar Causes a Climate of Confrontation in French Politics, Lies About Patent Quality (Among Many Other Things)

    Battistelli's lies are coming under increased scrutiny inside and outside the European Patent Office (EPO), where patent quality has been abandoned in order to artificially elevate figures



  26. The Collapse of Software Patents and Patent Law Firms Trying to “Overcome” Alice

    The United States continues its gradual crackdown on software patents (which are viewed as abstract and thus unpatentable), whereas in Europe things are murkier than ever



  27. Apple's Patent Wars Against Android/Linux Make Patent Trolls Stronger

    Apple's insistence that designs should be patentable could prove to be collectively expensive, as patent trolls would then use a possible SCOTUS nod to launch litigation campaigns



  28. Links 22/8/2016: Linux 4.8 RC3, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” KDE Beta

    Links for the day



  29. Links 21/8/2016: Apple and Microsoft Down, Systemd Spreading to Mount

    Links for the day



  30. Links 20/8/2016: Android Domination, FSFE summit 2016

    Links for the day


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