Microsoft's Intense Lobbying Works: Goodlatte To Drop Plan To Allow For Faster Review Of Bad Software Patents

from the bad-patents-live-on dept

Last week, we wrote about Microsoft's intense, and somewhat dishonest, lobbying to try to remove one aspect of proposed patent reform: the covered business methods program, which would have allowed approved technology patents to get reviewed by the Patent Office much more quickly. It was based on Senator Chuck Schumer's plan, which enabled the same feature for patents related to financial services. Many have seen that Schumer's effort was somewhat successful in stopping bad financial services patents, and so it makes sense to do the same thing for software as well. In fact, it makes more sense, since so many patent lawsuits and patent troll shakedowns involve software-related patents.

There's simply no legitimate reason to be against covered business method reviews unless you have a lot of really bad patents. Microsoft, along with Qualcomm, IBM, Apple and a few others, really lobbied hard against allowing this expansion -- while tons of startups and entrepreneurs (the people who actually are hit with bogus patent lawsuits all the time -- lobbied hard for it. Guess who won? Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who introduced the patent reform bill in the House, is now about to strip this provision from his bill.

So, if you're an entrepreneur killed by bogus patent lawsuits from giant legacy players, thank Microsoft.

Oh, and to the PR guy from Microsoft who sent me a laughable email trying to argue that Microsoft is supportive of patent reform and that my post was unfair because I didn't mention that: next time stay on topic. Yes, Microsoft supports some forms of patent reform. Just the kind that stops trolls from hitting it directly. What it doesn't support is the kind of patent reform that would stop Microsoft's all too common practice of shaking down all sorts of innovators and entrepreneurs with crazy patent licensing demands from its bundle of patents. No, Microsoft isn't a patent troll, but it is a patent bully with a lot of bad patents, which apparently it's scared that real innovators might invalidate a lot of those patents under a covered business method review.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    That One Guy (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 7:41pm

    The question is...

    Was it the carrot or the stick this time around? A promise of generous 'campaign contributions' in the future, or a threat of withholding the same?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Shmerl, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 8:15pm

    Microsoft is a patent troll. While commonly "troll" refers to some PAE company which doesn't produce anything, it can as well in a broader sense just mean a racketeer, which Microsoft definitely is.

     

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      techflaws (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 10:23pm

      Re:

      Agreed, they very much qualify alone for the fact that they're too scared of invalidation of their crappy patents, they don't even dare to tell people what they alledgedly infringe upon.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Bengie, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 7:04am

      Re:

      Trolls bring nothing to the table, Microsoft does a lot of R&D, unlike trolls.

      Thus, patent bully.

       

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        John Fenderson (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re:

        Microsoft has purchased questionable patents for the sole purpose of using them to extort money from others, so patent troll applies to them quite well. They can be both patent trolls and patent bullies.

         

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        Shmerl, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 11:51am

        Re: Re:

        No one said that trolls should be defined as "not bringing anything to the table". Classic meaning of the "bridge troll" is simply racketeer, not a non producing racketeer.

         

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          nasch (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 1:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No one said that trolls should be defined as "not bringing anything to the table".

          On the contrary, that is a very common, if not the generally accepted, definition of patent troll. The euphemism for it is "non practicing entity", meaning an organization that doesn't actually do business, but just asserts patents.

           

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            Shmerl, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 1:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            While it's a common meaning, it's not formal, so using it in broader sense is not a problem if things are clear from the context. In this case no one would think that MS doesn't produce anything - they are well known. When things aren't clear, you are right, using troll would lead others to think of it first in the narrow sense, as a non producing PAE. So using patent racketeer would be more precise for the broader meaning in general case.

             

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            John Fenderson (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm with Shmerl. While NPE are the easiest-to-identify kind of patent troll, there are other kinds as well. I've never thought that "not bringing anything to the table" was an essential part of the definition.

             

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        techflaws (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 10:42pm

        Re: Re:

        What good does the R&D have to do with the FAT patent? It should never have been granted in the first place. Especially not the crude and embarassing hack they used for short/long filenames.

         

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      Bengie, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 7:05am

      Re:

      I forgot to add, if you turn "troll" into a blanket statement, you devalue the word into "people I don't agree with".

      Keep "troll" what we need it to be, people to who NO VALUE. They are the worst of the bad.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 8:25pm

    Shoot the Lobbyists, metaphorically

    Excise patents, copyright, and trademark (at least to the extent that it might involve anything beyond a confusing mark used in commerce) from the system and that will invalidate patent trolls, copyright trolls, ne'er do wells who want to make good on their 15 seconds of fame, patent lawyers, patent suits, copyright lawyers, copyright suits, trademark suits that even 9 black robed morons in a hurry could not mistake, the cost of patent suits (corporate money with no place to go but R&D?*), the cost of copyright suits (originators or first to market capitalize on existing, learn for the future) TPP and all its ilk de-canonized, building on existing allowed again, start-ups freed to innovate, creators freed to mix, match, re-interperate without censorious connotations, allow for freely attributing without recompense, a whole bunch of the Federal Statues and a couple of departments deleted (think of the savings) and experience the boost from the economy, worldwide, when it takes effect. Metaphorically

    Pardon my use of commas, as more complex punctuation is beyond my current ken.
    * Yeah right!

     

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    Pixelation, Nov 18th, 2013 @ 9:57pm

    Perhaps it's time for someone to investigate Goodlatte. Any real journalists left out there?

     

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  •  
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    Bob Webster (profile), Nov 18th, 2013 @ 11:15pm

    How things change.

    "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. I feel certain that some large company will patent some obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm, application extension or other crucial technique. If we assume this company has no need of any of our patents then the have a 17-year right to take as much of our profits as they want."
    Bill Gates, 1991

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:20am

    Shooting at someone who present you with at least some communication seems shortsighted without a more indepth analysis of the content. Non-public sourced journalism is the name of the game today. While Microsoft is on the wrong side of issues a lot "keep your friends close but your enemies closer" comes to mind!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 1:40am

    not just Microsuck that wanted this! but it shows that they have more clout than the people these changes are supposed to be protecting.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Rom, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 2:20am

    I am so old I remember the days people where excited to get the new Windows OS in the form of 30 or so floppy disks.
    Microsoft's dinosaur hasn't changed a bit, apart from the loss of cutting edge technology and change from positive PR to lawsuit trolls.

     

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    BernardoVerda (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 2:22am

    Innovators vs litigators

    Remember this, the next time some one wants to argue that Microsoft or Apple aren't really on the decline...

    (... especially if they suggest that extorting {ahem, excuse me, I meant to say "earning" -- honest} large profits is the most suitable measure for such things.

     

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    anonymouse, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 4:00am

    Patents

    I think every silicon valley business should start lobbying in great numbers, or even join together and pay the amounts Microsoft is paying and more to ensure copyright laws are purchased for the interest of the consumer not the big business entities.
    Imagine if they could get Amazon and Google and thousands of other large internet entities to join force to lobby,using their customer base to put pressure on lawmakers, they could completely rule the lawmakers and pay them enough to stop MS and APL and others from winning every time there is competition to buy a law change in the US.

     

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    •  
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      Jay (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 4:17am

      Re: Patents

      Here's what I find amazing... Microsoft is pushing hard to keep their weak patents, but not fighting hard on protecting their clients.

      Kind of messed up priorities if you ask me.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jeffry Houser, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 4:46am

    Why is Microsoft Called out in the subject line?

    Since the article lists four companies that lobbied against this [and says there were others] why is Microsoft given all the 'credit/blame' in the rest of the article?

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 5:13am

      Re: Why is Microsoft Called out in the subject line?

      idk, maybe because M$ sent an email "explaining" their pov?

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 4:36pm

      Re: Why is Microsoft Called out in the subject line?

      Because they were the absolute driving force behind this. While others were along for the ride, this was the clause that Microsoft put its muscle behind killing.

      Last week's article on their bogus front group, in which only companies very very close to Microsoft signed on to a letter, should put any questions to rest about that.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 5:09am

    Another reason to despise M$

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 7:03am

    One holds a patent. TD, maybe OK, but almost certainly invalid. Assert that patent. Scum of he earth bully.

    One holds a trademark. TD, maybe OK, but probably unnecessary and almost certainly no creating a likelihood of confusion in the real world. Assert that trademark. Scum of the earth bully.

    One holds a copyright. TD, maybe OK, but having one kinda sucks because you likely used things others had created before. Assert that copyright. A culture killing, scum of the earth bully.

    Perhaps it is just me, but there seems to be a trend here.

     

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    •  
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      nasch (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 7:47am

      Re:

      Perhaps it is just me, but there seems to be a trend here.

      You oversimplifying TechDirt's positions?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 8:43am

        Re: Re:

        Quite the contrary. TD oversimplifies quite nicely all by itself without my assistance. For example, have you ever heard TD say "Wow, that patent covers a really tremendous advancement and most certainly the claimed invention is new and useful."?

         

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          JMT (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 12:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So you accuse TD of oversimplifying, and then offer as an example something that is not an oversimplification. Top work.

          Besides, in your example the patent would be working as intended and not itself be newsworthy. The invention would be newsworthy.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 3:29am

          Re: Re: Re:

          average_joe greatly loathes it when due process is enforced.

           

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    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 4:38pm

      Re:

      Perhaps it is just me, but there seems to be a trend here.


      Yes, you making bullshit statements based on false assumptions.

      Maybe try stopping that.

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:12am

        Re: Re:

        Has TD ever commended the issuance of any patent? Not that I have ever seen.

        Has TD ever stated that an invention described and claimed in a patent is most certainly new (Section 102), useful Section 101), and nonobvious(Section 103)? Not that I have ever seen.

        Has TD ever expressed an opinion that a TM was not subject to its "moron in a hurry" rule? Perhaps it has because my recollection is not infallible, but I recall no such instance.

        Has TD ever spoken approvingly of an author claiming copyright on a specific work, and then excoriating an infringer and stating that the infringer is getting his/her/its just desserts? If so, I must have missed that headline news.

        Bottom line...this site is so anti patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, unfair competition, etc. that in these areas of law one can draw the impression that TD openly advocates their consignment to the trash can.

        The comment to which this is directed is so odiferous that is spans from "sea to shining sea".

         

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        •  
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          Gerald Robinson (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 10:12am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm puzzled by this comment. As I remember from the above Anonymous Coward was the one advocating the complete removal of all patent, TM and copyrights, was I wrong?

          As for critiques of given patents most of us are not qualified to do so and apparently neither are the patent examiners. The only two patents I am familiar enough to comment on that are legitimate are Lempel Ziv and GIF. The rest of the software patents make vague too broad clams and are simply means of disguising business methods BS or concepts which are not patentable.

          As foe copyright TD is not anti but for reform and fixing obvious abuses like the WB DMCA copyfraud.

           

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            nasch (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 10:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            As I remember from the above Anonymous Coward was the one advocating the complete removal of all patent, TM and copyrights, was I wrong?

            He was saying that is Techdirt's position. I'm pretty sure he's very pro-IP.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
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          John Fenderson (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 10:31am

          Re: Re: Re:

          About all of your "Has TD ever..." questions, my answer is why would TD do any of those things? All of those things are either not newsworthy, interesting, or within the perview of TD.

          this site is so anti patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, unfair competition, etc. that in these areas of law one can draw the impression that TD openly advocates their consignment to the trash can.


          Only if you ignore the numerous times when Mike has overtly stated that he thinks there is a positive role to be played by all of those things.

           

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        •  
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          Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 10:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I recognize that you don't understand journalism, but there's a general rule: you write about man bites dog, not dog bites man.

          "Oh look, there's a valid patent" isn't news.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Oh look, there is a "bad" patent, just like every other patent that has ever been issued."

            It is one thing to express an objective fact based opinion on a particular patent, and quite another to then take that specific instance and launch off into a tirade against all patents in general.

             

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    staff, Nov 19th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    more dissembling by Masnick

    'Goodlatte To Drop Plan To Allow For Faster Review Of Bad Software Patents'

    large infringers definition of 'bad sfw patents': those used to sue us

    Just because they call it "reform" doesn't mean it is.

    "patent reform"...America Invents Act, vers 1.0, 2.0, 3.0...

    “This is not a patent reform bill” Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) complained, despite other democrats praising the overhaul. “This is a big corporation patent giveaway that tramples on the right of small inventors.”

    Senator Cantwell is right. All these bills do is legalize theft. Just because they call it “reform” doesn’t mean it is. The paid puppets of banks, huge multinationals, and China continue to brain wash and bankrupt America.

    They should have called these bills the America STOPS Inventing Act or ASIA, because that’s where they’re sending all our jobs.

    The patent bill (vers 1, 2, 3, etc) is nothing less than another monumental federal giveaway for banks, huge multinationals, and China and an off shoring job killing nightmare for America. Even the leading patent expert in China has stated the bill will help them steal our inventions. Congress passed it and Obama signed it. Who are they working for??

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/08/11/former-governors-lobbying-consulting-rev olving-door/2639355/

    Patent reform is a fraud on America. Congress and Obama are both to blame. This bill will not do what they claim it will. What it will do is help large multinational corporations maintain their monopolies by robbing and destroying their small entity and startup competitors (so it will do exactly what the large multinationals paid for) and with them the jobs they would have created. They have already damaged the US patent system so that property rights are teetering on lawlessness. This bill will only make it harder and more expensive for small firms to get and enforce their patents. Without patents we cant get funded. In this way large firms are able to play king of the hill and keep their small competitors from reaching the top as they have. Yet small entities create the lion's share of new jobs. According to recent studies by the Kauffman Foundation and economists at the U.S. Census Bureau, “startups aren’t everything when it comes to job growth. They’re the only thing.” Meanwhile, the large multinationals ship more and more jobs overseas. This bill is a wholesale destroyer of US jobs. Those wishing to help fight this bill should contact us as below.

    Small entities and inventors have been given far too little voice on this bill when one considers that they rely far more heavily on the patent system than do large firms who can control their markets by their size alone. The smaller the firm, the more they rely on patents -especially startups and individual inventors. Congress and Obama tinkering with patent law while gagging inventors is like a surgeon operating before examining the patient.

    Those wishing to help fight big business giveaways and set America on a course for sustainable prosperity, not large corporation lobbied poverty, should contact us as below and join the fight as we are building a network of inventors and other stakeholders to lobby Congress to restore property rights for all patent owners -large and small.

    Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/default.html for a different/opposing view on patent reform.
    https://www.facebook.com/pi.ausa.5
    http://piausa.wordpress.com/
    http://washingtonexaminer.com/patent-reform-like-most-reforms-in-the-end-benefits-the-biggest-guys-w ith-the-best-lobbyists/article/2524033
    http://www.hoover.org/publications/defining-ideas/article/1427 41

     

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    •  
      icon
      nasch (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 7:49am

      Re: more dissembling by Masnick

      You agree with MS and Apple, those evil big inventor-crushing corporations, about this bill? Wow.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 19th, 2013 @ 4:37pm

      Re: more dissembling by Masnick

      Do you realize that you just argued that you agreed with Microsoft's position? Maybe, next time try reading before your usual cut and paste.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 3:30am

      Re: more dissembling by Ronald J. Riley

      Ronald J. Riley just hates it when due process is enforced.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 4:43am

        Re: Re: more dissembling by Ronald J. Riley

        Thaaaat's the name I was trying to remember. Still with the annoyingly long pitausa tag, too. Just removed his name in the hopes that it wouldn't be brought up.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    René, Nov 26th, 2013 @ 4:09am

    Be proud

    I suppose a lot of US citizens respond here. I think you should be proud of companies like Microsoft. Together with Apple they really are close to world domination of teh USA. Isn't that what all Americans want?
    So what if there are little companies in the margin who are defeted by the system and/or big Companies? They should have done their home work first and make a good risk assessment before challenging the big guys.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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