Microsoft dooms Software Patents, forever, everywhere

Groklaw has the news about Novell and Red Hat being hit by a Patent Infringement lawsuit from a certain ‘IP Innovation LLC”, noting that Ballmer has been making threats in the last week or so:

IP Innovation LLC has just filed a patent infringement claim against Red Hat and Novell. It was filed October 9, case no. 2:2007cv00447, IP Innovation, LLC et al v. Red Hat Inc. et al, in Texas. Where else? The patent troll magnet state.

Of course, PJ posts the links to the Patent involved, which has been used as an example of misuse of the Patent system by others already:

You might recall the patent was used in litigation against Apple in April 2007, and Beta News reported at the time that it’s a 1991 Xerox PARC patent. But ars technica provided the detail that it references earlier patents going back to 1984. Appropriately enough. If you use Google to search for “IP Innovation LLC 5,072,412” you’ll find more. Note that it’s IP Innovation, not plural. There is another company using IP Innovations. I gather Apple paid them to go away in June.

This patent has been pointed to as an example of the need for patent reform. Now, Patent Troll Tracker claims that IP Innovation LLC is a subsidiary of Acacia. More here. Law.com did a story on Acacia in February, “Extreme Makeover: From Patent Troll to the Belle of the Ball.”

The next interesting item to note is Acacia’s ties to Microsoft (duh!)

Acacia Research Reports Second Quarter 2007 Financial Results

BUSINESS WIRE – July 26, 2007 04:00 PM US Eastern Timezone

In July 2007, Acacia Research Corporation announced that Jonathan Taub joined its Acacia Technologies group as Vice President. Mr. Taub joins Acacia from Microsoft, where he was Director, Strategic Alliances for the Mobile and Embedded Devices (MED) division since 2004. Mr. Taub developed strategic initiatives and constructed and negotiated agreements enabling MED to be Microsoft’s fastest growing revenue division. He received a 2006 Heroes and Key Achievers award from Microsoft for negotiating strategic deals with Qualcomm and STMicroelectronics. From 2002 to 2004 he was Business Development Manager for Microsoft’s Security Business Unit, where he co-led Microsoft’s anti-virus business strategy.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Mr. Taub was Director, Business Development with Nortel Networks and was an intellectual property and corporate law Associate with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. Mr. Taub holds a B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

And of course there’s more:

Acacia Technologies Names Brad Brunell, Former Microsoft General Manager, Intellectual Property Licensing, to Management Team

Monday October 1, 6:01 am ET

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Acacia Research Corporation (NASDAQ:ACTG – News) announced today that its Acacia Technologies group, a leader in technology licensing, has named Brad Brunell as Senior Vice President.
Mr. Brunell joins Acacia from Microsoft, where during his 16 year career he held a number of management positions, including General Manager, Intellectual Property Licensing.


Previously as a Senior Director he was in a strategy role focusing on digital media adoption which included key deals with Time Warner and the Walt Disney Company, leading the negotiating team for the settlement of the Intertrust patent litigation, and putting together the Content Guard ownership structure between Microsoft, Time Warner and Thomson. He also served on the board of Content Guard, a digital rights management patent licensing company.
His earlier career responsibilities as a Group Manager included managing business groups responsible for Microsoft’s Digital Rights Management technologies in the Windows client product group and business development for Core Audio/Video technologies within the Windows platform. Most recently he was a General Manager focused on incubation of new products and services.

Questions

1. Did Microsoft really think that their ties to this litigation would not be very quickly exposed by sites such as Groklaw?

2. Don’t they realize that once their ties to this litigation are clear, that any country that has not adopted software patents will realize that they are a big, big mistake?

3. Doesn’t Microsoft realize that they have just doomed software patents in USA, too?

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Microsoft dooms Software Patents, forever, everywhere

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