Friday, June 10, 2011

"Software" patents are a pain to corporations, too

An article in ComputerWorld reports "Microsoft has become the first member of a crowdsourcing service designed to challenge and invalidate specious software patents sometimes used in expensive lawsuits brought by so-called patent trolls."

So it seems that "software" patents are as much a problem for large corporations, as they are a benefit (in the form of legal "leverage").

The article has some interesting information about "software" patents. This section sums up the issues, very well:
Microsoft, no stranger to patent lawsuits brought by NPEs [Non-Practicing Entities, companies that hold patent portfolios but do not produce products based on those patents] and others, said the Litigation Avoidance service will be another tool to investigate patent quality before going to court. The goal is "to reduce risk and reduce potential litigation cost," said Bart Eppenauer, chief patent counsel at Microsoft, in a statement. "NPEs continue to actively target large technology companies, and often with portfolios of questionable quality."

Article One said companies spend an estimated $5 billion annually to defend against NPE lawsuits. The most notorious NPE lawsuit in recent years was brought by NTP against BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.

NTP won a $612 million settlement from RIM in 2006 as a result of that suit, even though the U.S. Patent Office later found prior art that invalidated 97% of NTP's claims. Federal court records have shown that 46% of patent lawsuits resulting in a judgment are invalid, Article One said.

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