Microsoft Loses Yet Another Patent Lawsuit

from the how's-that-looking-now? dept

In the last few years, Microsoft has become a bigger and bigger supporter of patents, which is a bit ironic, given that Bill Gates once pointed out that the software industry never would have developed if there had been software patents back in the early days. But, proving that new companies innovate, while older companies litigate, Microsoft has become a big patent hoarder in recent years. But, to date, while it's used those patents to threaten lots of companies, it seems like Microsoft's decision to live by patents, is actually costing it quite a bit of money.

We've already covered Microsoft's big loss to i4i at the end of last year, for which Microsoft was told to pay nearly $300 million. And, now, Microsoft has lost a patent lawsuit in East Texas (of course) from a company that appears to have been set up just to sue Microsoft -- claiming patents over VPN technology. In fact, the company's business plan basically admits that its business model is to win these sorts of lawsuits. Hard to see how that's promoting progress or innovation in any way. Oh well. Live by the patent, die by the patent, I guess...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:22pm

    If necessity is the mother of invention, then patents are, I guess, the dirty uncle?

    Patents! More important than progress . . . .

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:25pm

    Where is the Patent Nuclear War?

    Is Intellectual Vultures Involved?
    I want to see that iNuke ;)

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:32pm

    once upon a time..

    I considered a similar business model. One where I would use the ludicrous patent system in Robin Hood fashion. Since the government only listens to corporate America, It would produce incentive for then to unleash their lobbyists.

    The only reason we never did, was because I was *sure* that they would fix the system before the backlog at the USPTO would clear up.. that was in 99. If someone started using patents as a strategic vehicle, in order to exploit those that abuse the patents. How long do you think it would take for Congress to pass a law fixing THAT part of the broken system?

    As long as they go after MS and their ilk.. I say good on them. There doing more for patent reform than anyone could at this point in the evolution of our Corpocracy.

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 10:43pm

    Re:

    Patents! Are not only more important than progress, their how progress is measured. More patents mean more progress. Just look at history. We have more patents now than we did last year and we have advanced since last year! Tomorrow the USPTO will grant us some more progress and so on. Every time something new comes out, it's because of patents. If we did away with idea patents, we would be hunting Mastodons within a month! (well... depending on how fast they destroy them)

    IT'S A PROVEN FACT!!!

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Hoeppner, Mar 16th, 2010 @ 11:06pm

    Heh, How does one use their patent stockpile against a company that does nothing.

     

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

  6.  
    icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 12:58am

    Re: Re:WTF ?!?!

    Your comment sounds like something that came up after a few hours of hitting the bong. So either it was really good sarcasm and I almost missed it OR you actually believe more patents equal more progress.

    I agree that patents on inventions are a great idea. Patents on ideas are just stupid. If I can imagine something but have no way to implement it, then why should I deserve compensation?

    Your argument points us to history and then you say every time that something new comes out, it's because of patents. Logically that would mean that prior to patents in history there were no inventions and nothing new. And then you end it with IT'S A PROVEN FACT!!!

    Put the bong down, and go back to the history books. Better yet, try a dictionary and look up the words "proven" and "fact".

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Big Al, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 2:20am

    Re: Re: Re:WTF ?!?!

    Damn - he left out the sarcmark. How am I going to tell if he means it or not.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Err - yeah, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 4:47am

    Re: Re: Re:WTF ?!?!

    Of course it is sarcasm.
    Your post, not.

    Or, taking sarcasm in a literal sense and responding to it ... hmmm could that also be sarcastic? Naaaa

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 4:49am

    Did they buy a cow too ?

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 4:52am

    Corporate Adolescents

    Mike Masnick,

    You must be using eyeglasses made from the bottoms of recycled old style eight ounce Coke bottles when looking at patent issues because that is the only way you could have such a distorted view.

    Most certainly Microsoft was built based on the kind of innovation which you rant about all the time where they took others' inventions. DR dos comes to mind as one notable example of this. And it is true that Microsoft waved their magic wand and produced a bunch of minor incremental inventions which is typical of companies which are unable to produce significant inventions.

    It is also true that Microsoft has been wounded by numerous small companies who had important technology and that they have repeatedly been caught with their sticky fingers in others patent cookie jars.

    Microsoft reminds me a a young punk with an entitlement mentality who has repeatedly received attitude adjustments. They are slowly growing up, maturing a bit at a time. They went from trying to take whatever they wanted to at least making an effort at producing the inventions they need. Since Microsoft is not capable of producing the most important inventions the next step is for Microsoft to start buying rights before use. There is hope that they are slowly, granted very slowly learning that they must start acting like responsible corporate citizens.

    In the meantime they will continue to start scraps and get the crap kicked out of them as will every other thief of patents property rights big and small :)

    By the way, I have an interesting political tidbit for you to chew on. I hear that Microsoft's relationship with the Coalition for Patent Piracy & Fairness is strained and that they may withdraw from the Piracy & Fairness Coalition. I also hear that Apple's work to weaken patents is about to bite then really bad because they have probably weakened their own patent rights while trying to facilitate their appropriation of others rights. Think about this and consider the implication for America's competitiveness. Be sure to remove those glasses first and bear in mind that reality altering drugs should not be used when attempting to get an analytical picture of things.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR at PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Donv69, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 5:23am

    Take the USPTO

    Why not take the USPTO to count? I know a lot of companies would be risking a lot on this, but the bigger companies who seem to be victims more than aggressors should take the system to court.

    I know RIM would certainly be interested.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 6:14am

    The Ministry of Innovation (MiniPat) grants progress to who it finds deserving. Those individuals include the high government, but not the low government or proles.

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 6:35am

    Re: Where is the Patent Nuclear War?

    The so-called "iNuke" is not, nor has even been... funny.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 6:37am

    Re: Corporate Adolescents

    I thought the person who speaks "only for himself" while spamming a signature of 5 shill organizations and a dead person was the one having issues with reality.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 6:55am

    The way you've written this post makes it sound like M$ went after a company for infringing. This was not the case. In this case, a small company went after M$ for some stupid patent that shouldn't have been granted in the first place and some how won.

    Much like with the i4i case, the problem is with people who see a giant like M$ and see easy money.

    So really, even though M$ is hording patents, they aren't in litigation mode yet as they aren't the ones suing.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 6:59am

    Re: Corporate Adolescents

    Have you updated your wbesite yet or is it still completely obsolete?

    "PIA helped short-circuit HR 2795 the deadly Patent “Deform” (Reform) act of 2005 (109th Congress). The Anti- American innovation evil doers are still plotting to bring new anti-innovation legislation in the new Congress in 2007 (110th Congress) by way of House Bill HR 1908 and Senate Bill S 1145. "

    http://www.piausa.org/

    Sorry buddy, it's 2010. You can't even update a website yet alone innovate.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 7:00am

    Re: Take the USPTO

    I guess we can take them to court under the pretext that they are hindering the progress in violation of the constitution (since the constitution calls to promote the progress).

    Then again, do federal agencies have some sort of sovereign immunity type law that applies to them?

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 7:04am

    Re:

    To the extent that MS collects patents to prevent themselves from being sued by the patents they collect, I don't blame them. They don't want someone else to get a patent and sue them, they would rather get the patent first before someone else gets it and sues them with it. Since our first to invent system is really a first to file system in disguise, and the cost of a lawsuit makes whoever came up with the invention first irrelevant (since parties tend to settle anyways), I suppose that collecting patents as a defensive measure makes sense.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re: Where is the Patent Nuclear War?

    Oh, lighten up.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Any Mouse, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    Oh, really? So you missed this tidbit:

    'In fact, the company's business plan basically admits that its business model is to win these sorts of lawsuits.'

    Yeah, really sounds like M$ went after /them/, doesn't it?

     

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

  21.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re:WTF ?!?!

    Really?!? I know patent supporters can be pretty extreme, but really? When he says we'll be hunting mastodons within a month if we can't patent ideas, really, it's obviously sarcasm. I mean, really.

    This has been Really?!? with nasch

     

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

  22.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 8:04am

    Re: Corporate Adolescents

    You must be using eyeglasses made from the bottoms of recycled old style eight ounce Coke bottles when looking at patent issues because that is the only way you could have such a distorted view.

    Hah hah hah hah hah!! Good one, Ronald! Do you do stand-up, too?

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 8:31am

    Re: Corporate Adolescents

    "DR dos comes to mind as one notable example of this."

    Please enlighten us as what M$ has to do with Dr Dos. Sure Dr-Dos was caught infringing on freeDos, but Microsoft was not a party to that, that I can find.

    nonetheless, your website and case examples do suggest you are stuck in 2005.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Chill, Mar 17th, 2010 @ 8:45am

    Re: Corporate Adolescents

    Be sure to remove those glasses first and bear in mind that reality altering drugs should not be used when attempting to get an analytical picture of things.

    attempted argumentum ad hominem. next.

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    DerekCurrie (profile), Mar 17th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Submarining

    "... the company's business plan basically admits that its business model is to win these sorts of lawsuits."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_patent

    If this is the case, AND they admitted it, Microsoft have a terrific incentive to appeal the decision. Submarine patent lawsuits are illegal in the USA, and this appears to be a clear case of submarining. Of course law versus reality is another matter. Submarining lives on. It is the worst of patent abuse, a plague that doesn't discriminate between types of patents. The perpetrators couldn't care less about the software patent crisis.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Patents

    As a patent attorney - GOOD ARTICLE, and I agree with you wholeheartedly!
    Where a small entity is using patents to get financing for their startup, and have to prove that someone else will not simply use a superior financial position to steal their innovation (like Carnegie did in steel - though, since Carnegie then used the technology to improve the economy rather than simply collect extorted funds, that may not be a good example - but he then used his power to prevent any more innovation and protect his dominance, so maybe it is a good example!), IP (including patents) is a good thing; where it merely legalizes what should be criminal behavior, it is horrible.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This