IBM is perhaps the most aggressive patent machine on the planet. In a move reported by The Register today, IBM has now taken a step beyond the pale (again) and sought to patent the art of squeezing profits from patent portfolios, otherwise known as patent trolling.
A filing at the U.S. Patent Office, entitled "system and method for extracting value from a portfolio of assets" stages a landgrab on the thoroughly original idea of letting other people use your ideas.
IBM's intellectual property carpet baggers describe the invention as "obtaining an interest in selected assets from the portfolio to a client who lacks the resources to accumulate and maintain such a portfolio, in return for an annuity stream to the portfolio owner." Or, en Anglais, patent licensing.… Read more
OK. Novell is a credible company. But look at the other companies with which Microsoft has consummated its patent pacts: also-rans, all of them. Today it was TurboLinux. Seriously, does anyone care if TurboLinux's one remaining user won't be sued by Microsoft?
I'm exaggerating, of course. TurboLinux has a decent share of the market in China [PDF] and throughout APAC. But that's not saying a whole lot.
With all the hoopla surrounding Microsoft's capitulation to the EU's demands over interoperability (see this and this, for example, though business journalist Dana Blankenhorn rightly yawns), it's important to remember just how far the deal doesn't go.
So what has been accomplished? The Commission appears to have successfully forced Microsoft to open its work group server protocols to viewable access by all, including open-source developers. It also appears to have assured that such developers will be able to implement the protocols, at least from a copyright and/or … Read more
Groklaw has uncovered a curious, but perhaps not surprising, connection between Acacia, the patent troll behind the Linux desktop patent lawsuit against Red Hat and Novell, and BayStar, SCO's sugardaddy (with Microsoft behind its support for SCO). Incest runs amok in the patent trolling world.Guess who has Acacia Research, the parent of IP Innovation, now suing Red Hat and Novell over alleged patent infringement, in their portfolio, or at least demonstrably did in 2006? Baystar [PDF]. What a small world. Who'd think that the very same Baystar, whose Lawrence Goldfarb told the court in the SCO v. … Read more
A panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected most of Amazon.com's 1-Click online purchasing system patent claims because of evidence that another patent predated this one.
In its decision, dated September 26, the three-judge panel reversed an earlier decision approving the patent claims and remanded it back to the patent examiner.
Amazon's 1-Click system allows account holders to make a purchase with a single mouse click. The patent was granted in 1998, and Amazon went to court the following year to block Barnes & Noble from using a similar one-click checkout system. The … Read more
Stacey at Hyperic has an excellent post parsing research from recent Nobel Prize winners, Leonid Hurwicz, Eric Maskin and Roger Myerson. Digging into their research, she uncovers the following analog to open source:...when discoveries are "sequential" (so that each successive invention builds in an essential way on its predecessors) patent protection is not as useful for encouraging innovation as in a static setting. Indeed, society and even inventors themselves may be better off without such protection. Furthermore, an inventor's prospective profit may actually be enhanced by competition and imitation.… Read more
Acacia/IP Innovation has gone on the record as saying that it's not trying to kill open source: it just wants to suck anyone and everyone dry of cash, regardless of license. I don't know about you, but I feel strangely comforted. :-)
Acacia says:IP Innovation is not attempting to inject itself in the ongoing philosophical debate of whether products or services which utilize open source are subject to the same intellectual property laws/behaviors as non-open source offerings. Acacia and its subsidiaries do not philosophically differentiate any company, but rather seek to consistently and fairly monetize … Read more
Mark Radcliffe hints at something that I hope isn't true: that open source's growth might make it a prime candidate for patent trolls. This is one of the primary things that has bothered me about the IP Innovation lawsuit against Red Hat and Novell, two Linux desktop companies:
There is no Linux desktop market, and comparatively little in the bank accounts of both companies. Why sue penny pinchers when you can instead sue the sugar daddy?
Still, Mark writes:… Read more
Suddenly all those discussions about the discordant ways of open-source software and patent law have become a lot less abstract.
Companies called IP Innovation and Technology Licensing Corporation sued Red Hat and Novell on Tuesday, claiming the top Linux sellers' software products infringe U.S. patent 5,072,412, "User interface with multiple workspaces for sharing display system objects," and two identically named patents. The suit (PDF), in the U.S. District Court in Eastern Texas, seeks damages and a permanent injunction prohibiting any further infringement.
Red Hat spokeswoman Leigh Day said Friday only that the company is … Read more