Archive for August 18th, 2009

A snippet of truth: Microsoft’s lawyers on patent trolls

Something not related to FLOSSMETRICS or other research areas, but fun nevertheless: while reading the MSFT/i4i Memorandum Opinion and Order, I just caught the following snippet that in my opinion closes very efficiently the discussion about “patent trolls”, that is companies that ratchet patents to extract money from (potentially) infringing companies. From the Order:

“Throughout the course of trial Microsoft’s trial counsel persisted in arguing that it was somehow improper for a non-practicing patent owner to sue for money damages.” (p.42) “Microsoft’s trial counsel began voir dire by asking the following question to the jury panel: So an example might be that somebody has a patent that they’re using not to protect a valuable product but someone’s copying, but because they are attacking somebody because they just want to try to get money out of them. So it fits, for example, with the litigation question Mr. Parker asked. So if somebody felt that — let’s take this case for an example. If somebody felt that the patents were being used in a wrong way, not to protect a valuable product but a wrong way, could you find that patent invalid or noninfringed?”


“THE COURT: I understand that you just told the jury if somebody was using the patent not to compete, that that was the wrong way to use the patent?
MR. POWERS: No, not to compete; just to get money, not to protect anything. That’s what I asked.”

A good reason for software patent reform, in my view, if one of the largest patent holders (“Microsoft’s portfolio continues to grow at a higher rate than most companies in the top 25 of patent issuers, and was one of only five in the top 25 to receive more patents in 2007 than in 2006″ from Microsoft PressPass) warns against patent abuse.


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