Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Patents "Pending"?

Tech Giants Edgy Over Web Services Patent Sales

The upcoming auction of dozens of key Web services patents in a California bankruptcy case has some big Silicon Valley companies on edge.

Among them are Google, Oracle and Sun Microsystems. Attorneys for those and more than a dozen other companies held a powwow this week to discuss the patent sale and the danger of becoming targets of infringement suits by whomever acquires them.

Alarm is growing within the high-tech industry over what some say is a trend toward speculative patent acquisitions. Critics say companies that acquire patent rights to technology that they played no role in creating in order to profit from infringement suits are violating the spirit of patent law, which is supposed to reward innovative companies. A number of companies specialize in this practice, including Intellectual Ventures, started by former Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold.

Does any of the $30B or so Microsoft have in the bank get earmarked for these?

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