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Chinese Gov't Reveals Microsoft's Secret List of Android-Killer Patents

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the read-it-and-weep dept.

Microsoft 140

walterbyrd (182728) writes "A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website. The patents Microsoft plans to wield against Android describe a range of technologies. They include lots of technologies developed at Microsoft, as well as patents that Microsoft acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium, which spent $4.5 billion on patents that were auctioned off after the Nortel bankruptcy."

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140 comments

What happened the the prior article? (5, Interesting)

MrDoh! (71235) | about a month and a half ago | (#47246939)

Well, that's one way to handle repeat articles, delete the original one.

Re:What happened the the prior article? (4, Funny)

Etherwalk (681268) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247123)

Well, that's one way to handle repeat articles, delete the original one.

It's almost as if we were talking about the Chinese Government...

Re:What happened the the prior article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247129)

Fittingly, this should apply to patents.

WORDS THAT DESTROYED THE WORLD (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247177)

"We Own Ideas".

Re:WORDS THAT DESTROYED THE WORLD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247373)

> WORDS THAT DESTROYED THE WORLD: "We Own Ideas".

More like "Ideas that destroyed countries" -- think about who was powerful since ever and tried to hide secrets and what good that did to them. The Greeks are basically bankrupt and we recently learned about the antikythera... sometimes it's a wise move not to put all eggs in one basket. If your country gets into big trouble, you might need a strong friendly neighbor to help you pull yourself out of the hole (kinda happened to me and I'm grateful there were people nearby).

It's like baking a cake. Be the first to tell the world you baked one and give them the cake; otherwise you get to the party only to see people already eating a cake similar or equal yours. Being fast these days is not holding your cards.

I really cannot emphasize enough how right IMHO Mr. Musk is. He's the future. M$ is quickly becoming an important part of History.

Re:What happened the the prior article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247261)

Turned out that Microsoft had a secret patent covering the prior article.

Re:What happened the the prior article? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247869)

That's how samzenpus roll, dawwwg.

And Google paid how much for... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47246971)

Motorola? And that was purely for its patent portfolio (the rest was just icing). $4.5B would have been a pittance to Google if it thought any of the Nortel patents were worth more than the potential litigation fees. Of course, they may also have something in the Motorola portfolio that they can use to smack MS down with, so maybe it's actually a case of Mutually Assured Destruction via patent lawsuits.

Re:And Google paid how much for... (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247187)

Motorola? And that was purely for its patent portfolio (the rest was just icing). $4.5B would have been a pittance to Google if it thought any of the Nortel patents were worth more than the potential litigation fees. Of course, they may also have something in the Motorola portfolio that they can use to smack MS down with, so maybe it's actually a case of Mutually Assured Destruction via patent lawsuits.

The Motorola purchase by Google was not simply for its Patent Portfolio. There's a lot of pundits out there that want to write it up as such, but it wasn't. There was a lot of value Google got from buying Motorola that was beyond the patents issue. Having said that, some of the things they sold off/spun out of Motorola have covered a good chunk of that purchase.

If generic and common behavior patents are... (5, Insightful)

Parker Lewis (999165) | about a month and a half ago | (#47246983)

... not stupid enough, Microsoft additionally wants to keep the patents secret. So, if your company reach a success level that can bother them, even if you try avoid most of the IT patents (which is impossible, because they're TOO generic), "SURPRISE, this is the list of patents you infringing and had no idea because we keep them in secret!"

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (5, Insightful)

MrDoh! (71235) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247003)

Agreed. It's crazy to create 'secret rules/laws' "Don't break our rules!" "What rules?" "We won't tell you them until you break them"

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247079)

There's an obscure by-law in the Faber College charter called Double Secret Probation. I believe you just violated that.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247133)

The whole concept of a secret patent doesn't make sense, since the word itself means open or visible, as in "patently obvious".

Obfuscatory language of patent claims, for one (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247221)

The sheer number of subsisting patents combined with the obfuscatory language of patent claims has defeated the purpose of making it "patently obvious" which inventions in common use are encumbered.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (3, Interesting)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247259)

The whole concept of a secret patent doesn't make sense, since the word itself means open or visible, as in "patently obvious".

Irony upon irony. We're getting this list from a Communist nation - and such places are supposed to be tight with information, thus making them inferior to the open society upon which freedom supposedly thrives. With a little help from the NSA.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247641)

This list is also from a nation that's famous for its industrial espionage, which is a big part of communism.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247755)

This list is also from a nation that's famous for its industrial espionage, which is a big part of communism.

Are you fucking retarded? I'm serious. How can you make such an asinine claim? People do industrial espionage to know WTF the competition is doing without reinventing the wheel. It has NOTHING to do with communism - a system which dictates who controls of means of production.

http://www.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]

So NSA is communists too by your understanding?

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247783)

That's right.

We all know there's no industrial espionage carried out in the land of the free now don't we - no agency involvement there at all!

Oh wait...

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (3, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248237)

China is communist exactly the way in which the US is capitalist.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248257)

OK - it's a big part of the Communist Party of China's practices. Better?

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248535)

This list is also from a nation that's famous for its industrial espionage, which is a big part of communism.

The USA is also famous for it's industrial espionage. US Spy programmes such as Echelon pass secrets of foreign companies along to American companies. So it's not really a feature of communism.

And in any case there hasn't been much communist about China for many a long year.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248421)

The whole concept of a secret patent doesn't make sense, since the word itself means open or visible, as in "patently obvious".

Irony upon irony. We're getting this list from a Communist nation - and such places are supposed to be tight with information, thus making them inferior to the open society upon which freedom supposedly thrives. With a little help from the NSA.

True, but they're not above publishing an offshore company's secret information if it's to their advantage. That the reveal helps other offshore companies is collateral..... damage?

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (2)

turgid (580780) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248687)

Irony upon irony. We're getting this list from a Communist nation

A Communist country where people can own companies and trade stocks and shares?

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

gtall (79522) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248931)

No, a communist country where the state is a big player in the marketplace through state owned companies. Think of it as Fascism without a conscience.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247299)

Well, no. The patents are visible, and you could do code review against Microsoft's known patent portfolio to create roughly the same list. The problem is, Microsoft doesn't want to do other companies' patent checking work. By keeping the list secret they get to extract patent royalties without risking Google working their way around the patents. If you want to know what the patents are, then prepare to spend time and money examining Microsoft's patents. Nobody wants to do that when it's probably cheaper to just license the patents and focus your money on actual R&D.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247429)

they get to extract patent royalties without risking Google working their way around the patents

You shouldn't get to to sue someone for "infringing your rights" if that's exactly what you want them to do.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248557)

Every company that licenses patents wants other companies to use them and pay for a license, and will sue if they use them and don't pay.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (2)

timeOday (582209) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247427)

In practice, who wields a patent is at least as significant as what is in it. Getting sued by a nobody is one thing, but how would you feel getting served by IBM or Apple and their army of lawyers?

I thought this statement in the article was interesting: "Last year, the company made a big to-do about publishing a full list of patents it owns." It hadn't occurred to me this could be secret information, but it makes me wonder if companies set up mazes of shell corporations to obscure their IP holdings, like they do to avoid taxes or to prevent prices from going up when they are bidding on something (acquiring a smaller company, drilling rights, etc).

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247447)

But isn't that the implication of the entire law system in almost any country anyway?
It's not like the teach basic law in school (beyond common sense). They want you to screw up.
Very few areas are required to know the law in regards to whatever you may study, car licences being one of the major ones most adults will know about. But seriously very little things require you to know the law. It is only just beginning to appear in some computing courses I hear. (friends cousin mentioned his course)

All of society is designed to keep you back or screw you over at some stage.
It is sadly a necessary evil as well, that is the worst part about it.
We know how to make people geniuses, just imagine if we did. Holy crap that would be the worst generation of teens in the history of humanity. Talk about an entitlement generation. You ain't seen shit.

It'll be a long time before our society is ready for a people that knows 100% of everything, including what others are doing, which WILL happen one day, and people will accept it as the norm.
One day some grandparents will sit there telling their kids how they used to have secrets. Not any of us of course. Maybe. Depends if space mining actually brings us the future we need, or if we end up nuking ourselves to an endangered species on levels as bad as, or worse than, the last ice age
In a way, I almost wish people did know 100% of anything, because then I wouldn't be so annoyed at other people for being crap all the time. I feel bad for it, but I really hate stupidity.

And more to the point, Microsoft couldn't give any less of a damn about the law.
They practically made the computing industry, you think the damn trading authority would have actually DONE anything about that IE bundling back in the 90s?
MS are a major export that still makes money. They'd never do anything to damage that. Ever. They are as corrupt as Microsoft are.
MS ARE the law. Judge Gates, coming to a cinema near you Friday.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

Cardoor (3488091) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248603)

its not crazy at all. if your endgame is to instill fear and maintain control, it's perfectly logical.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

Sloppy (14984) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248755)

Crazy? Sounds like a fun card game [wikipedia.org] , to me.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247145)

I've always thought that was stupid, and an abuse of patents.

We're going to threaten you with the notion that you may be violating one of many undisclosed patents. We're going to insist on a cut of revenues to license these patents to you. We may or may not tell you the patents even once we have your money.

This should be a put up or shut up scenario.

I also heavily expect that a great deal of these patents would yield howls of outrage as they more or less became "a system an methodology for doing something exactly like in the real world, but with a communications device/computer/phone".

This is just a blanket extortion scheme intended to make sure there can be no competition because everybody is beholden the the big players who hold patents awarded by chimpanzees whose job it is to simply approve as many as possible.

Now that's innovation.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (2)

Lemmeoutada Collecti (588075) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247471)

You have to ask yourself "did he fire five shots, or six?" The real question is, do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?

It's Russian roulette with patents.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247509)

Funny, sounds more like an extortion attempt under the RICO act to me.

"Nice phones you have, a shame if something unfortunate were to happen and you found yourself in court needing to spend millions of dollars to even find out what we claim to own".

This is extortion through insinuation that there is someone infringing, with no proof they are, and no ability for anybody to review the alleged list of patents.

Because if they actually released the list, I bet it would be in the interests of many people to have some of those patents overturned.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

TheDarkener (198348) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248359)

Russian roulette is when you load a single round into a revolver, spin the cylinder and try to shoot yourself in the head, seeing whether the round spun to the position of the barrel.

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader how the actual meaning of the term can apply to Microsoft's Android-Killer patents.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247785)

If you can force them into court, of course if you have the money. You should be able to find some law that forces them to publicly list these patents. Or file extortion charges against Microshit, and watch the shit hit the fan.

Of course I have no idea how China's defunct government runs things, this tactic seems to fit right into what they do, so I wouldn't be surprised if MS gets away with extortion.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248837)

Everyone is playing by the same rules. We may not like the rules, but they define how the game is played. At this time it is up to a company to identify patents they may be infringing.and avoid infringement or seek to license as required.

And if litigation starts, I'm sure the initiating party has to disclose the patents in question (probably along with a non-disclosure agreement).

Apple and Amazon play the same way, as do many companies.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247151)

I assume the patents themselves are public, just mixed in with all the other ones. Searching for existing patents to something specific you're trying to do would hopefully uncover the specific ones you're looking for.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (4, Insightful)

PackMan97 (244419) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247241)

You NEVER EVER NEVER want to search for a patent when implementing something. To do so opens you up to a willful violation of that patent and treble (x3) damages.

Damages for how many patents? (2)

tepples (727027) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247381)

On the one hand, you can search and violate one patent under a distorted definition of "willful". On the other hand, you can not search and end up violating three patents. But I thought recent Federal Circuit decisions made it harder to get enhanced damages [iplawalert.com] by punishing recklessness.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

dargaud (518470) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247955)

Who would know that you search for said patent ? Does the patent office apache website reports its logs directly to the patent holder ?!?

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

amorsen (7485) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248245)

Do you really want to lie in court? When the opposition can subpoena your firewall logs and browser cache?

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

Second_Derivative (257815) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248143)

This is so damn stupid. If somebody can unwillingly violate your patent then that means your patent is bullshit pretty much by definition. Well, to a reasonable person anyway, the legal system apparently has other ideas.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (2)

drakaan (688386) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248307)

That's true of every single software patent ever issued. They're all bullshit because they're not inventions, they're mathematical discoveries.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (3, Interesting)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247159)

How long have Android phones been around? Long enough for this to apply, I'd expect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247215)

... not stupid enough, Microsoft additionally wants to keep the patents secret.

There is only reason for keeping details of patents secret: you know that some of them won't stand up to open scrutiny. In other words: you do it if you are engaged in confidence trickery. So turn it into a game of bluff and wrap those who do see them up in restrictive disclosure contracts.

It would be nice to see many of these patents shown to be invalid; then those who have been screwed by this mafia like protection racket to sue and get their money back. However: I don't expect to see that happen, the system is too broken.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247747)

Also, workarounds could be implemented before they get to put the screws to them

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247311)

The filings from their suing of Barnes & Noble gives some insight in the mafia-like way Microsoft runs their patent extortion racket. The entire case is completely disgusting, even before you see how trivial the asserted patents were.

In July 2010, Microsoft first met with Barnes & Noble to discuss "patent issues" related to Barnes & Noble's eReader. Microsoft specifically alleged that Barnes & Noble's NookTM was infringing six patents purportedly owned by Microsoft. When Barnes and Noble asked Microsoft for more detailed information related to these patents, Microsoft refused, claiming that the information was confidential and could not be shared unless Barnes & Noble first executed a non-disclosure agreement ("NDA"). Because both the patents and Barnes & Noble's NookTM product are public -- meaning there was no need for an NDA -- Barnes & Noble refused to sign one. In December 2010, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble then met to discuss Microsoft's assertions of patent infringement. In this meeting, Microsoft claimed that its patents were sufficient to entirely dominate and control the use of the Android by the NookTM or Nook ColorTM, but Microsoft again refused to provide the basis for these claims unless Barnes & Noble entered into an NDA. To move the process forward, Barnes & Noble agreed to a very narrow NDA -- one limited in scope to discussions relating to Microsoft's claim charts at this single meeting.

  In January of 2011, Microsoft then sent a proposed patent license agreement to Barnes & Noble. Although, as noted, the NDA executed in December was narrow and applied only to discussions of claim charts, Microsoft asserted that its proposed license agreement was confidential and subject to this NDA (which it is not). This proposed licensing agreement covered Barnes & Noble's use of Android on its existing eReader devices but is structured in such as way as to presume that Microsoft's portfolio of patents dominate, and thereby control, the entire Android operating system and any devices that use Android. Indeed, the proposed license would have severely limited and, in some cases, entirely eliminated Barnes & Noble's ability to upgrade or improve the NookTM or Nook ColorTM, even though Microsoft's asserted patents have nothing to do with such improvements. At the risk of inciting even more baseless litigation by Microsoft, Barnes & Noble does not feel comfortable sharing all of the details of the proposed license agreement in light of Microsoft's baseless assertion that it is confidential and covered by an NDA. Nevertheless, Barnes & Noble urges the Department of Justice to use its subpoena power to demand a copy of the proposed licensing agreement, and any other relevant documents, from Microsoft. Microsoft's assertion of confidentiality is simply a means to cloak its oppressive and anticompetitive licensing proposal and is another element in Microsoft's larger scheme to restrict competition in the mobile operating systems market.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248643)

The filings from their suing of Barnes & Noble gives some insight in the mafia-like way Microsoft runs their patent extortion racket. The entire case is completely disgusting, even before you see how trivial the asserted patents were

Well, they have to make money somehow. And now they can afford to buy the market, so they get a forever funding stream.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247377)

You can't keep patents secret, that by its nature is contrary to the patent process. You have to disclose how the invention works. [acs.org]

The problem arises in what happens after a patent is acquired by another party and then by another. In some cases quite a few prior patent owners can fog up who actually owns it. In one personal case something I invented and was patented was owned by 8 different companies until it's wound up with the current owner. That's where the mystery comes in and Microsoft does have the right to not disclose any licensing deals with third parties. So it may have licensed to Google for $10 per device while Nikon for $1, but that's the nature of business, which is to make money. If that means inhibiting competition then that's all part of the game.

If generic and common behavior patents are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47248499)

You realise of course that every single patent filed in the United States is open to the public by visiting the USPTO website, right?

None of these patents were a secret. They never have been. They never will be. Patents by their very definition are public documents, revealing the operation of a system so that it is not lost to society when the inventor dies.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248581)

As far as I can tell, MS does not keep the patents secret (they can't), they just tell others: "We have over a million patents, and we think you are violating a least one of them. We're not saying which one, so that you cannot look it up and decide whether to pay up, work around it, or fight us in court. We'd rather that you do not take the risk of a lengthy court battle that ends in your product being taken of the market; much better for the both of us if you just pony up what we ask, now".

This amounts to legal blackmail. Surprisingly there's no law against this sort of thing.

Re:If generic and common behavior patents are... (1)

simstick (303379) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248835)

A list of patents like this? http://www.microsoft.com/en-us... [microsoft.com]

Groklaw (5, Insightful)

Tough Love (215404) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247009)

Groklaw... where art thou? You're going to miss the fun... let the patent killing begin. Gentlemen, start your engines.

How nice to have the 800 pound gorilla on our side :)

Re:Groklaw (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247247)

It died because PJ was afraid of forced exposure. Why? I have no idea. What were we going to learn, anyway, that her name was Pamela and that she was a paralegal?

Re:Groklaw (4, Informative)

halivar (535827) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247395)

It's a case of "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." In addition to her imagined enemies, she had a few (very real) obsessed haters who went to great and morally questionable lengths to "out" her (Maureen O'Gara being the weirdest and most obsessed of the small lot).

Re:Groklaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47248751)

He/She/It was on IBM's payroll and the project was axed once it no longer served a purpose. Even a retarded child could see straight through the BS story of a "paralegal woman turned hardcore Linux zealot after spinning a distro" from day one. Linux zealots willfully believed the narrative because it felt good, just like some people feel good believing a guy that was crucified 2,000 years ago is coming back one day.

Re:Groklaw (1)

halivar (535827) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248911)

Dan Lyons? Is that you?

But no one really cares about Microsoft... (5, Insightful)

i_ate_god (899684) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247029)

...in the mobile world. All they will do send a lot of people towards Apple and they will accomplish nothing.

Re:But no one really cares about Microsoft... (2, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247085)

Maybe Microsoft could increase their marketshare by 50%: And get to 1.5% of the market.

Re:But no one really cares about Microsoft... (4, Informative)

Etherwalk (681268) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247185)

Maybe Microsoft could increase their marketshare by 50%: And get to 1.5% of the market.

3.2% according to comscore as of January. In the major European markets, they are at 10%.

Re:But no one really cares about Microsoft... (2)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247219)

When big groups of MBAs get together, they often decide that preventing someone else from getting money is the next best thing to getting money themselves.

Some men just want to watch "the competition" and consumers burn.

Re:But no one really cares about Microsoft... (0)

DogDude (805747) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247411)

Speak for yourself. You couldn't pay me to trade my Windows Phone for an iPhone.

When you can't innovate... (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247101)

...what's left but to become a patent troll?

Re:When you can't innovate... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247155)

Burning the bridges the trolls live under? Patent reform? Thorough review of ALL patents to see if they make sense? Force Microsoft to disclose ALL patents they feel might be infringed?

Anything would be better than the stupidity which is the current patent system.

Re:When you can't innovate... (1)

Hentai (165906) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247327)

Burning the bridges the trolls live under? Patent reform? Thorough review of ALL patents to see if they make sense? Force Microsoft to disclose ALL patents they feel might be infringed?

All of this would require a MASSIVE amount of lobbying to accomplish, and therefore a MASSIVE amount of money.

How do you currently get massive amounts of money?

Therefore, what incentive do people who currently have massive amount of money have, to make the changes you propose?

Re:When you can't innovate... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247401)

Of course the people with massive amounts of money are interested in maintaining an inherently flawed patent system which makes them massive amounts of money.

Film at 11.

When Microsoft can extort a share of Android with the threat of using an unspecified list of patents, the patent system has become so utterly broken as to be useless.

Re:When you can't innovate... (1)

KiloByte (825081) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248719)

Uhm no, the patent system works as designed since day one. The purpose of patents was to extract some money for the rulers (the king at first). When money went to someone else, elected parliaments try to fight that, like in 1624 [wikipedia.org] , but whenever they receive some of the money they propagate the problem. It was never about "innovation".

Re:When you can't innovate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47248933)

All of this would require a MASSIVE amount of lobbying to accomplish, and therefore a MASSIVE amount of money.

That's an assumption that rests on your interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Not that I would ever advocate the use of force as a solution to problems, though.

Ahh, everything working as it should... (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247175)

Doesn't it warm the free-market cockles of your heart that levels of 'market transparency' in "intellectual property", and the licensing thereof, that a regulatory action taken by commie chinese is the biggest boost it's had in years?

Good work on that free market, guys.

Re:Ahh, everything working as it should... (1)

andydread (758754) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247653)

Doesn't it warm the free-market cockles of your heart that levels of 'market transparency' in "intellectual property", and the licensing thereof, that a regulatory action taken by commie chinese is the biggest boost it's had in years? Good work on that free market, guys.

I think the free-market types see patents as a big government granted monopoly. Somehting they tend to loathe.

Competition, Microsoft style (5, Interesting)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247183)

Back in the 1990's Microsoft didn't have to worry about competing or innovating because of the Windows monopoly. as a result, Microsoft never really learned how to innovate and move a market forward.

.
Now Microsoft is faced with a marketplace in which Windows no longer has a monopoly. Unfortunately, Microsoft never really learned how to innovate, so what is left?

Patent lawsuits, of course.

The once powerful Microsoft, a company that could kill off a start-up just by announcing an intent to compete with it, is now reduced to trying to maintain its power over the industry via legal bullying.

And the fact that Microsoft had to buy some (most?) of the patents to use in its bullying merely underscores the appearance that Microsoft still does not know how to innovate.

Those who can, innovate; those who can't... (2)

tepples (727027) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247249)

I'm aware of two platitudes that reflect different mindsets:
  • "Those who can, innovate; those who can't, imitate."
  • "Those who can, innovate; those who can't, litigate."

Which is better for progress and why?

Re:Those who can, innovate; those who can't... (1)

Cabriel (803429) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247453)

Imitation spurs innovation by differentiating, however slightly, from the original and other knockoffs so that people will aquire your product.

Litigation prevents innovation and generates bad publicity, driving people away from your platform no matter how Right and Just your litigation may be. A vocal minority will always misrepresent your position to sway the market away from you.

For the Market, Imitation is clearly superior.
For the Seller, it's perhaps less clear which is better. Litigation is clearly a suprerior short-term solution but very harmful to your brand in the long-term.

Re:Those who can, innovate; those who can't... (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247573)

On the other hand, litigation encourages innovation through design-arounds. But then the effectiveness of design-arounds for promoting innovation depends on how clearly the lines for who owns what invention are marked.

Re:Those who can, innovate; those who can't... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247781)

It also encourages new solutions, not just derivatives.

Re:Those who can, innovate; those who can't... (2)

Qzukk (229616) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248201)

On the other hand, litigation encourages innovation through design-arounds.

Aside from clear ownership of invention, it's also necessary to understand what is patented. Setting aside Microsoft's "we've patented this but we're not telling you which patents they are" there are cases like the "in-app purchase" patents that have absolutely no mention of purchasing in the claims (the claims are specifically about providing feedback to the developer through an app). Is buying a smurfberry "providing feedback"? I guess we'll have to wait for someone to spend a million bucks to fight it in court in order to find out.

Even when it's clear who owns the patent and how the patent applies, if you do a workaround you'll still likely find yourself on the other end of a C&D letter advising you that your app looks like it infringes their patent and if you don't settle now you'll face an expensive discovery process and have to hand over your source code to us to prove that your code doesn't do what the patent says it does. Not a big deal for OSS, but for proprietary software the prospect of handing over the family jewels to the competition isn't a good one.

And at the end of it all, after you've shown them your source code, shown them your workaround, shown them that you don't do what the patent says it does? They can pull the "Doctrine of Equivalents [wikipedia.org] " card, and claim that despite the fact that the patent doesn't specifically name your workaround in the claims, it still applies. Enjoy your million dollar lawsuit.

Free program, non-free Smurf graphics (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248981)

Is buying a smurfberry "providing feedback"? [...] if you don't settle now you'll face an expensive discovery process and have to hand over your source code to us to prove that your code doesn't do what the patent says it does. Not a big deal for OSS, but for proprietary software the prospect of handing over the family jewels to the competition isn't a good one.

Then one can short-circuit the discovery by making the engine free but keeping the data that it uses proprietary. For example, a game that allows players to buy Smurfberries could have the program itself under a free software license but the non-program assets copyrighted to Studio Peyo with all rights reserved.

They can pull the "Doctrine of Equivalents" card

At which point the defense can pull the "obvious to one skilled in the art given the prior art as of the patent's priority date" card. A publisher rich enough to license the "Smurfberries" name probably has the money for such an obviousness defense.

Re:Competition, Microsoft style (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247269)

I'd recommend looking at the Halloween documents, purported (although not confirmed) to be from MS. If they are true, MS was looking at patent lawsuits as an offensive tactic back then as well.

Re:Competition, Microsoft style (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247397)

Microsoft started looking at patent lawsuits when they hired IBM's intellectual property guru back in the 1990's. That was the move that convinced me that Microsoft was going to build a patent portfolio to use against competitors, instead of competing via innovation. I guess Microsoft thought it was easier to buy patents than to learn how to innovate.

Re:Competition, Microsoft style (5, Interesting)

johnlcallaway (165670) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247431)

I think Apple is starting to be in the same boat. They had a coolness monopoly that many people used to make decisions based on a 'cool' factor rather than on usable features/functions. For instance, zooming on a web page was 'cool', even if it still wasn't practical to use the phone to view large numbers of web pages because of the small screen (pre-mobile web page world). My daughter snatched up on of the original iPhones right away, partly because she thought the zoom ability was cool. I stuck with my Android. Now, she has switched and vows never to go back.

After receiving an iPhone from work, it's amazing to me that anyone even buys them. It sits in my pocket, next to my S4, and is only used to view work email because of it's limited screen size, inferior built-in soft keyboards, and substandard/non-intuitive navigation features. (We are not allowed to install Touchdown and connect to the email servers, so they give us iPhones instead.)

Apple now thinks that getting into the 'connected' world is the way to go. They think that people will buy iPhones simply because of cool toys that can connect to bikes and golf clubs and such. It's kinda innovative, but like things all Apple, it's based on things other people are already doing. Just 'cooled up'. I wouldn't be surprised if they will own the patents and protocols and make it difficult for other companies to get in on it.

Meanwhile, Android will continue to be fragmented, which drives the ability for thousands of companies to complete and innovate.

Apple's only saving grace is their margin is so high they don't need market share.

They just need their iDrones to keep buying and drinking the Koolaid.

Did Apple start the "patent bully" thing? (3, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247475)

Or is that just another idea that somebody else invented, but Apple perfected? Then Microsoft steals the idea from Apple?

In the early 1990s, Apple was suing everybody over this "look and feel" nonsense.

Apple has to be the ultimate patent trolling software company. Especially considering their patents are mostly over silly design issues that Apple did not even "invent."

But as horrible as Apple is, Microsoft comes close.

The innovation posts are amusing (5, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247445)

I find the innovation posts decrying the lack of innovation at Microsoft, Apple, etc. quite amusing.

Big companies have rarely been known for innovation, and often known for acquisition of the innovative. As far as I know, the sole exception is IBM at this point in time, though there was a time when HP did a lot of research and innovation as well.

But Apple has never been an innovator; they bought the ideas and companies that caught their interest and marketted them. The same with Microsoft. They bought DOS. They partnered with IBM on OS/2 leading to a lot of the technology behind Windows. They bought SQL Server from Sybase ASE (SQL Server is modified ASE 10.) I'm not even sure they coded Office instead of buying the pieces elsewhere.

"Innovation" in the minds of a lot of people is about bringing new products to market, not inventing technologies. And who is to say that researching something that never makes it to market isn't a waste of time and energy? What good did Nortel's patent portfolio do them in the face of incompetent and abusive management practices? They were the Canadian king of the telecom markets, right up there with AT&T, but management managed to kill them off. Yet one can't deny they invented a lot of key telecom technologies.

To sum up: Innovation is overrated. And in a world where it's "all been done before" such as IT, "innovation" is often no more than repackaging something that was done 20+ years ago that people forgot about.

Re:The innovation posts are amusing (1)

westlake (615356) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248139)

"innovation" is often no more than repackaging something that was done 20+ years ago that people forgot about.

Most likely because the tech was then too immature, impractical, or expensive for commercial development. The first (analog) videophone demonstrations, for example, were staged in the 1920s. It was a long way from there to Skype.

For 1000s time, abolish all copyrights and patents (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247473)

I will repeat [slashdot.org] this [slashdot.org] over [slashdot.org] and
over [slashdot.org] and over [slashdot.org] and over [slashdot.org] and over again [slashdot.org] :
abolish all copyrights and patents.

Of-course I get this type of nonsense as replies [slashdot.org] , "extremism", "attitude", etc. nonsense.

The problem is that the government must not be able to dictate anything in the free market except basic protections against government abuse of individuals, nothing else.

As long as governments are usurping power away from people to dictate to people property and business rules and regulations and taxes we will keep hitting these types of walls: monopolies created by the force of government, monopolies created with the 'rule' of the gun to our heads.

Re:For 1000s time, abolish all copyrights and pate (4, Interesting)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247629)

Heck no, I make good money on my patents! Enough that I work because I want to, not because I have to (and I'm just 46). Rather than abolish patents and copyrights, make them so they can only be held by an individual - not a corporation. That would do most of what you need. And yes, I have successfully defended my patent from infringers (never had to take it to court - hold up their product, hold up my patent and a product which uses my patent, ask them to explain the difference - and after 30 seconds of silence, just offer a nice licensing deal).

Re:For 1000s time, abolish all copyrights and pate (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248123)

hold up their product, hold up my patent and a product which uses my patent, ask them to explain the difference - and after 30 seconds of silence, just offer a nice licensing deal

- precisely why patents and copyrights as monopoly powers protected by governments must be abolished!

Who the hell knows what 'your' product is?

Tell me the difference between these:

for(int i=0;i

what is the difference except that 2 different people wrote that (I copied it from 2 different files written by 2 different people? Who says that there has to be difference in something that 2 different people created to achieve a similar task?

Regardless of what your patent says, are you implying that nobody else can create whatever it is that is in it without reading through your text?

All of this is of-course beside the point, governments must not be allowed to regulate individual property and businesses in the first place and this means that they must not be allowed to use violence to protect your monopoly on whatever it is you are patenting or copyrighting. There shouldn't be such a concept (at the very minimum not in the software world).

Re:For 1000s time, abolish all copyrights and pate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47248569)

So what you're saying is that we shouldn't be getting rid of patents because then you'd have to actually work for a living like the rest of us? Yeah there are reasons to keep patents in some way shape or form but that certainly isn't one of them. In my humble opinion copyright and patents should last no longer than 10 years maximum. It gives the individual or company plenty of time to make money off of it without hindering innovation by other people. I invented the wheel - you're not allowed to use it in any of your designs. Give me a break.

Re:For 1000s time, abolish all copyrights and pate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47248985)

In my humble opinion copyright and patents should last no longer than 10 years maximum.

I'd say copyright is worth its while for about 5 years for individual copies. For mass distribution, closer to 20 years would be ok.

Patents are ok as-is for the original "non-obvious mechanical/electrical" patents. Business method patents and software patents are abominations and should be abolished entirely.

Re: Heck no, I make good money on my patents! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47248979)

I'm sorry, but just No. It's nice that you make good money on your patents, but so does Nathan Mhyrvold [wikipedia.org] . Whether you or Nathan make money on your patents is irrelevant. It simply doesn't matter. Patents are granted despite the known downsides of creating a monopoly because We, Society As A Whole, expect to get a greater benefit.

The question is not how much money any patent holder makes. The question is whether the benefit to society at large outweighs the damage that patents do. Under the current patent regime, many Slashdotters say "no". If that causes you to have to get a different job, or even makes you stop inventing, I'm sorry but we'll live with it. We, Society As A Whole, would be better off to abolish the patent system entirely and do without your invention, no matter what wonderful thing you personally have invented.

The likelihood is that we wouldn't be doing without it for very long. You stated that you have defended your patents from infringers. That means someone else was making the same invention. Since corporations universally forbid their engineers from reading patents (to avoid the triple-damages problem), those infringers must have independently invented the same thing you did. The basis of the patent bargain is that Society grants the inventor a temporary monopoly, and the inventor publicly reveals the invention. In this case, someone else was willing to invent and reveal without the grant of monopoly. The only benefit to society is that we got your disclosure a bit earlier. That's a pretty small benefit.

Worse than useless patent system (1)

udachny (2454394) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247541)

FTFA

The patent system is supposed to create that "public notice" on its own, but it's sorely lacking. Patents today are written in legalese that can only be interpreted by a select tribe of professionals, and Microsoft benefits by keeping lists like this secret.

- isn't that something.

Patents are a system of government enforcements that provide monopoly over something to a patent holder, however to understand what this 'something' is you need to read through millions of patents and you need to understand that insane language that they are written in.

How is it possible to assert that people are infringing on patents at all if the patents are unreadable in the first place? If the patents are written in a coded language and there are millions of patents, who in their right mind (except for government officials) could ever believe that companies that end up using something that is covered by these patents are infringing rather than simply working out the details of what they need for their product to be built on their own?

All of these and more is why I am ever so firmly against all government involvement in the patent and copyright schemes in the first place.

Patents don't bother Pirates (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247549)

Yarr Har Fiddly Dee!!!

Not guilty (2)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247649)

If Microsoft knew of a real violation and failed to take immediate action I would find against Microsoft. After all, if others are investing in a product they deserve immediate action if they infringe. To stand back and allow another company to wade deeper and deeper into product sales and development without being notified is an unfair and unreasonable action. In cases where infringement is claimed but is not proven then the fines against the plaintiff should be punitive.

Microsoft's inexerable downward slide (2)

SiliconSeraph (996818) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247667)

Can't innovate? Litigate!

This shows how Microsoft 'competes' (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247779)

If Microsoft made, licensed, or distributed a competitive mobile device, people would choose to buy it over iPhones or Android phones. However, they don't and people don't and so those great minds at Microsoft look at the situation and say 'we've got to knock off our competitors' rather than 'we've got to have a product that people prefer over our competitors.' If Microsoft can use it's patent acquisitions to force Google to pay big royalties, they can drive up the price of Android phones and make them less-attractive to buyers, who will then theoretically be more likely to look at Microsoft devices. That's one way to help buyers make the 'right' choice but it is not a very stellar example of a free-market economy in action. Microsoft would probably be more at home making smartphones on a captive basis for the Communist Chinese government, complete with built-in Bing filtering. Microsoft is an enormous wet blanket on technical innovation and moving technology forward and things will probably not improve until they are a shrunken shell of their present self...which will probably take another 10 or 15 years.

Re:This shows how Microsoft 'competes' (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248037)

Actually before RIM came out with the Blackberry Microsoft with Windows Mobile was doing quite well. When Blackberry took off it eroded the corporate space that Windows Mobile dominated because it was superior in terms of battery life and enterprise features. To this day Blackberry has the best enterprise integration and features, sure it's hella expensive and complex but it works. Now comes the iPhone and Android which erodes both Windows Phone and Blackberry. That's the evolving landscape of this throw away society we have. In 10 years you may see the iPhone and Android go by the wayside for something else.

Now, while we may think that Microsoft is a 'wet blanket' on innovation, it's a company like all others with the rights to innovate or acquire patents. Don't hate just because they got there before Google or Apple did, that was a savvy business play and like other savvy plays getting somebody to pay licensing royalties gives you leverage when it comes to knocking on another door. Also don't hate because unlike some entities, Microsoft is a practicing entity they have products, phones and technology that they develop. They just don't choose to give it away.

Re:This shows how Microsoft 'competes' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47248129)

Some might say that dumpster-diving, enterprise hacking, industrial espionage, and bribery of public officials are savvy business plays too but they are not ways that most successful companies use because they all sacrifice long-term integrity for short-term advantage...and the long-term is always the most important thing.

I want to see ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month and a half ago | (#47247825)

The CEO's of one of the companies that M$ approaches stand up and say, "since we violate you patents, we will shut down production and therefor you can collect no royalties".

Wild dream...

And if all M$ is going to have as a money maker, then they are failing as a company, don't you think?

One thing thankfully... (2)

Virtucon (127420) | about a month and a half ago | (#47247967)

All Patents have a useful life and depending on when these were submitted most should be getting close to end of life of nearly there over the next few years.
That's the silver bullet as it were for patents, there's a built in life expectancy much like Replicants.

http://www.uspto.gov/inventors... [uspto.gov]

Nothing to worry about (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a month and a half ago | (#47248615)

I'm pretty sure Google/Android have nothing to worry about. If in fact Microsoft holds valid patents that might be "Android killers" it is most likely that Google holds patents that could easily be "Windows killers." While the cold war and it's Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) mentality is over, at least between the US and Russia, it is alive and well in tech companies. The difference is the US and Russia practiced MAD with nuclear bombs. Tech companies do it with patents.

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