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[News] âFreakonomicsâ Helps World's Biggest Patent Troll, Patent Watchtroll Lies About Software Patents

  • Subject: [News] âFreakonomicsâ Helps World's Biggest Patent Troll, Patent Watchtroll Lies About Software Patents
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 09 Jul 2010 14:30:05 +0100
  • Followup-to: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
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Superfreakonomics; Superplug for Intellectual Ventures.

,----[ Quote ]
| I enjoyed Levitt & Dubnerâs 
| âFreakonomicsâ, and picked up the followup 
| âSuperfreakonomisâ recently at an airport.  
| The last chapter, however, was 
| astonishing.  The entire chapter was 
| devoted to a glowing advertisement for 
| Intellectual Ventures, pointing out that 
| they own 20,000 patents âmore than all but 
| a few dozen companies in the worldâ, but 
| of course âthere is little hard evidenceâ 
| that they are patent trolls.
| But this bunch of wacky genius 
| billionaires have solved global warming 
| (much of which they dispute anyway) and 
| can control malaria and prevent hurricanes 
| from forming.  Unlike the rest of the book 
| which covers analysis of well-known facts 
| and disputes them with insightful economic 
| research, this chapter is so breathless 
| and gushy that it makes me question the 
| rest of the authorâs work.
| I first came across Intellectual Ventures 
| when The Economist reversed their 100-year 
| opposition to patents, and the only reason 
| I could find was a similarly cheerleading 
| piece about this company.  (I had naively 
| expected new research revealing some net 
| positive of patents, or some such 
| revelation).


Patent Lawyer Insists Open Source Stifles Innovation

,----[ Quote ]
| We've already pointed out that the "don't 
| look" advice is spread around widely and 
| has nothing, specifically, to do with open 
| source. Second, developers aren't looking 
| to "do original work." They're looking to 
| do useful work. Necessity is the mother of 
| invention and all that. Innovation doesn't 
| come from looking for something that 
| "hasn't been done." Usually, it's in 
| response to a need that you are seeing in 
| the market place, and when you see that 
| need, it doesn't matter if others are 
| doing something already. The fact that you 
| see a need that hasn't been fulfilled 
| means that there's an opportunity.
| In some ways, Quinn's mistake here is 
| simply a restatement of the mistake many 
| patent attorneys make in confusing idea 
| and execution. He assumes that for 
| innovation to occur you need to have an 
| original idea, rather than just a better 
| way of solving a market need. And, the 
| idea that you have to do something 
| "original" to attract investor attention 
| suggests that Quinn doesn't spend much 
| time in the venture capital world. It's 
| pretty well known out here in Silicon 
| Valley that if you come to investors with 
| something truly original, you'll almost 
| never get an investment. It's just too 
| difficult. They can't fit that into the 
| model they're working with. To get an 
| investment you need one of two things -- 
| neither of which is "finding some original 
| space." No, you need a story about how 
| you're doing something the VCs already 
| understand, but better (i.e., the opposite 
| of what Quinn suggests) or you've got a 
| great track record of executing. That's 
| because most good (successful) VCs 
| recognize the difference between ideas and 
| execution. And they'll bet on people who 
| can execute over people with ideas every 
| single time.
| There's plenty more that's ridiculous in 
| Quinn's post -- which is why I'm pretty 
| sure that Quinn's blog is pure satire that 
| had me fooled for many years, but I'll 
| just respond to one more point, because 
| it's so amusing:
|     I have a real philosophical problem 
|     with those who want to copy, whether 
|     it be intentionally or without 
|     knowing. We ought to want to find the 
|     open spaces and fill them. That is 
|     what Thomas Edison did, and many 
|     thousands of others throughout our 
|     history. 
| As anyone who's actually studied Thomas 
| Edison knows quite well, pretty much all 
| Edison did was copy others. Nearly all of 
| his great "inventions" were actually 
| invented by others first. Edison, on the 
| other hand, was great at taking the 
| inventions of others and innovating. That 
| meant making minor tweaks to make the 
| offerings more marketable, marketing the 
| hell out of them... and, oh yes, using the 
| patent system to try to wipe out any of 
| the competition (even if they had much, 
| much, much better products). 



Intellectual Ventures Lending Its Patents To Members To Sue Others

,----[ Quote ]
| We've certainly written plenty about
| Intellectual Ventures, the giant,
| incredibly secretive, patent hoarding
| operation that has convinced a bunch of
| companies to pay hundreds of millions of
| dollars in a sort of pyramid scheme
| protection racket, to avoid getting sued
| on any of the patents that it holds. But
| now it's taken things a step further. Last
| year, we saw how at least one IV patent
| had shown up in a patent lawsuit, and now
| Zusha Elinson is reporting that
| Intellectual Ventures has effectively
| loaned out one of its patents to member
| company Verizon, with which it can sue
| TiVo, in response to a lawsuit TiVo filed
| against it.


Is Intellectual Ventures revving up its lawsuit machine? Will we know when it does?

,----[ Quote ]
| Today's Recorder has a story revealing that patent-holding giant Intellectual Ventures
| appears to be connected to a patent lawsuit recently filed in Chicago against Kodak and
| CDW Corp. Picture Frame Innovations, LLC v. Eastman Kodak Company et al., 09-cv-04888,
| N.D. Illinois. Intellectual Ventures was founded by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold
| (pictured at right).
| The Recorder reports that patent number 7,107,605, covering a digital picture frame, was
| originally filed by a small software company, but ended up being asserted by a small
| patent-holding company, Ez4media.


The real patent threat: Not Microsoft

,----[ Quote ]
| Hence, while the open-source world is up in arms about Microsoft's TomTom
| patent suit, it should be far more worried about news that Intellectual
| Ventures has grabbed another 500 patents through a deal with Telcordia
| Technologies, as TechFlash reports. Intellectual Ventures, arguably the
| world's largest patent troll, is set up to do nothing more than license its
| intellectual property, which it has done to the tune of hundreds of millions
| of dollars.


Intellectual Ventures adds to patent pile with new deal

,----[ Quote ]
| Intellectual Ventures is adding to its huge pile of patents. The
| Bellevue-based firm, founded by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, is
| today announcing a partnership with broadband company Telcordia Technologies,
| giving it access to more than 500 Telcordia patents. Intellectual Ventures
| has also pledged to fund Telcordia research and development.


Checking in on Nathan Myhrvold

,----[ Quote ]
| I'd suggest the business be called Intellectual Vultures' ... because that is
| exactly what Nathan is bringing to the table - nothing. This business model
| stifles and prevents creative idea, and is yet another made up securities
| model that preys on other people's legitimate hard work.
| When he was at Microsoft, he had zero practical ideas and I see he's still
| doing the same, only this time, he's screwing the whole public. This business
| is living on the backs of other people because they don't know how to spell
| the word âinnovation'. How about coming up with an original and useful idea
| and earn it the old fashion way?
| Nathan should be ashamed of this practice and he should be investigated by
| the FTC for predatory business practices.


Nathan Myhrvoldâs Patent Extortion Fund Is Reaping Hundreds Of Millions of

,----[ Quote ]
| Donât blame Nathan Myhrvold for taking advantage of the culture of rampant
| patent litigation in this country. He is only doing what large companies with
| vast patent portfolios such as IBM and Microsoft do on a daily basis: use the
| threat of patent infringement litigation to strike lucrative patent licensing
| deals. Except Myhrvold, who used to be Bill Gatesâ right-hand man at
| Microsoft during the 1990s, does it through his patent-gobbling fund,
| Intellectual Ventures.


Invention Capitalism & the Law: Checking in on Nathan Myhrvold

,----[ Quote ]
| Myhrvold told the WSJ that he acknowledges facing resistance from companies
| he targets for licenses. But his patent inventory gives him leverage to
| extract settlements without litigation. âI say, âI canât afford to sue you on
| all of these, and you canât afford to defend on all these,ââ he said.


Nathan Myhrvold: Alpha patent troll?

,----[ Quote ]
| Former Microsoft exec Nathan Myhrvold has been collecting patents, extracting
| fees from technology companies via his company Intellectual Ventures. Is
| Myhrvold a patent troll with tech cred?
| The Wall Street Journal has a long account of Myhrvoldâs patent collecting
| efforts and how he is winning multimillion dollar payments from the likes of
| Verizon and Cisco. These payments are top secret material, but Myhrvoldâs
| firm is the one reaping the rewards. Intellectual Ventures has more than
| 20,000 patents. In many respects, Myhrvold is just a patent trader. A few
| lawsuits could define him as a troll quickly though.


Tech Guru Riles the Industry

,----[ Quote ]
| Over the past few years, the former Microsoft Corp. executive has quietly
| amassed a trove of 20,000-plus patents and patent applications related to
| everything from lasers to computer chips. He now ranks among the world's
| largest patent-holders -- and is using that clout to press tech giants to
| sign some of the costliest patent-licensing deals ever negotiated.


Patent startup gains high profile backing

,----[ Quote ]
| John Amster, one of two former Intellectual Ventures executives that formed
| RPX, said he will not detail the company's business model or customers until
| October. However he did say RPX will acquire patents in a broad range of
| technology and e-commerce areas, especially when the patents are being
| asserted or involved in litigation.


Transcript: Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures

,----[ Quote ]
| Nathan Myhrvold: The genesis of this idea was when I was at Microsoft. We had
| a problem with patent liability. All these people were coming to sue us or
| demand payment. And Bill (Gates) asked me to think about if there was a
| solution. This is what I came up with.
| WSJ: So you think that you're actually protecting companies from more
| settlements or bigger payments down the road?


We doctor your patents, so be patent!

,----[ Quote ]
| Unlike most other pure licensing companies, Intellectual Ventures hasnât
| filed patent-infringement lawsuits to help force settlements. But the group
| lobbying on behalf of tech companies in Washington, the Coalition for Patent
| Fairness â which includes several companies that have been approached for
| licensing deals by Intellectual Ventures â says it is only a matter of
| time. âSince these thousands of patents only give [Intellectual Ventures] the
| right to stop others from making products, through lawsuits, it is obvious
| what they intend to do,â the group said in a statement.
| [...]
| As with short sellers, large companies don't like plays that can shake them
| up and expose their inadequacies, and will spend large amounts to PR /
| lobby / legislate them away - and as any small player who has tried to
| enforce patent abuse by large companies knows, it's virtually impossible to
| win and ruinously expensive to fight. So in that respect, aggregation is a
| good thing. Its hard to tell from this article if its just part of the PR war
| or whether there has been a real step up in the shakedown.


Reforming the Patent System

,----[ Quote ]
| Intellectual Ventures and its ilk are arguably the single biggest risk to
| America's continued leadership in technology and innovation. As dsquared
| elegantly put it in a comment here in May, the company might do a bit of R,
| but it doesn't do any D. Instead, it acts as a brake on any company wanting
| to do substantive R&D of its own, since there's a good chance Intellectual
| Ventures will have got there first, patented the idea, and then just decided
| to sit on it until somebody dares to violate it.


Microsoft and Pioneer Enter Into Patent Cross-Licensing Agreement to Foster
Mutual Innovation in Consumer Technology

,----[ Quote ]
| Although the contents of the agreement, including the specific financial
| terms, are confidential, the parties indicated that Microsoft is being
| compensated by Pioneer.


Acacia tops troll litigaition league

,----[ Quote ]
| Acacia Technologies is the most litigious non-practising entity/troll (delete
| according to preference) in the United States. According to research done by
| PatentFreedom, which is featured in an article to be published in the next
| issue of IAM, Acacia has been involved in a total of 308 cases in the US
| courts, 239 of which have been filed since 2003. In second place is Rates
| Technology Inc, which has been involved in 130 cases â although just 38 have
| been over the last six years.


Ideas Are Everywhere... So Why Do We Limit Them?

,----[ Quote ]
| Gladwell uses this to talk up what Myhrvold is doing, suggesting that
| Intellectual Ventures is really about continuing that process, getting those
| ideas out there -- but he misses the much bigger point: if these ideas are
| the natural progression, almost guaranteed to be discovered by someone sooner
| or later, why do we give a monopoly on these ideas to a single discoverer?
| Myhrvold's whole business model is about monopolizing all of these ideas and
| charging others (who may have discovered them totally independently) to
| actually do something with them. Yet, if Gladwell's premise is correct (and
| there's plenty of evidence included in the article), then Myhrvold's efforts
| shouldn't be seen as a big deal. After all, if it wasn't Myhrvold and his
| friends doing it, others would very likely come up with the same thing sooner
| or later.
| This is especially highlighted in one anecdote in the article, of Myhrvold
| holding a dinner with a bunch of smart people... and an attorney. The group
| spent dinner talking about a bunch of different random ideas, with no real
| goal or purpose -- just "chewing the rag" as one participant put it. But the
| next day the attorney approached them with a typewritten description of 36
| different inventions that were potentially patentable out of the dinner. When
| a random "chewing the rag" conversation turns up 36 monopolies, something is
| wrong. Those aren't inventions that deserve a monopoly.



Who is the world's biggest patent troll?

,----[ Quote ]
| In two consecutive days, The Wall Street Journal presented two different
| answers. The first is not surprising: Intellectual Ventures, the brainchild
| of ex-Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold. It's now out "to raise as much as
| $1 billion to help develop and patent inventions, many of them from
| universities in Asia."


Playing Microsoft Patent Poker

,----[ Quote ]
| This time though, while Ballmer slinks away to try to con â convince people
| that Microsoft Unified Communications somehow offers people more than what
| Cisco's VOIP (voice over IP) been offering customers for years, a patent
| attack finally launches at Linux. Specifically, IP Innovation, a subsidiary
| of Acacia Technologies Group, has filed a patent infringement claim against
| Linux distributors Novell and Red Hat.
| So was it just timing, or was it something more? Let's take a look at the
| players.

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