Tag Archives: License

The Patent Wars

Patents were originally created to spur innovation by ensuring that people could create without fear of losing control of their inventions.
However patentsare being increasingly used by big companies to put a stranglehold on innovation instead.
Corporations are falling over themselves to acquire patents for the sole purpose of keeping the status quo.
A great example of this is the $4.5 billion recently bid by a consortium including Apple and Microsoft for a “war chest” of patents owned by Nortel to keep them out of the hands of Google.
And, once again, Microsoft is leading the fight against innovation by using the patents it has acquired to restrict the use of Android – exactly the sort of behaviours that have landed them in such hot water in the past.
 Using  acquired patents Microsoft have forced companies that produce Android devices to pay ‘license fees’ for each device sold –  increasing the cost to the company and the consumer.Until recently those deals were kept private as part of the agreements made (coerced?) with device makers, creating exactly the sort of fear, uncertainty and doubt that I’m sure Microsoft wanted.

And the types of innovations that Microsoft are using to extort these fees?  How about the ability to display a graphic while a downloading is occurring.

Fortunately Barnes & Nobel have refused to sign and, in the process, are bringing the details into the light.  In its response to Microsoft’s complaint, B&N says that Microsoft is trying to dominate Android with “exorbitant license fees and absurd licensing restrictions,” that is more than Microsoft charges for the entirety of Windows Phone 7.

B&N has asked the U.S. Justice Department to review Microsoft’s patent-licensing agreements with makers of Android devices, saying “Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices.” Its attorney Peter Barbur said in an Oct. 17 letter to a DOJ official: “Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals’ costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices. … Microsoft’s conduct poses serious antitrust concerns.”

Microsoft wants to stifle innovation in the Open Source space because it knows it can’t compete.  Their intention is clear – if they can’t beat them with innovation, then they will do it with litigation.

Patent law has been corrupted – turning it from a defensive tool into a weapon.  Without a major overhaul of the existing system we are heading into a modern dark age.

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