OIN disposal squad takes out 22 patent land mines

Summary:Even if Microsoft did not know the patents would land with OIN, it seems clear they would know the organization they were selling to had no interest in holding anyone else up with them.

The Open Invention Network has taken out 22 more patent land mines, buying them from an outfit called Allied Security Trust which in turn had bought them from Microsoft.

CEO Keith Bergelt hinted to a reporter that Microsoft was not interested in selling to OIN, but the group's press release on the matter gives no hint of that.

AST bought the patents from Microsoft in July. It is headed by Daniel McCurdy, who also runs Patent Freedom, whose mission is "to help operating companies and their advisors more effectively assess, respond to, and ultimately reduce the specific threats" posed by non-practicing entities, sometimes called patent trolls.

Even if Microsoft did not know the patents would land with OIN, it seems clear they would know the organization they were selling to had no interest in holding anyone else up with them.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reported that most of the patents were part of the package of 3D technology patents Silicon Graphics sold to Microsoft in 2002.

Given that, it's possible that the patents may allow companies or groups to create more realistic 3D games using open source.

On learning of the transaction a few hours ago, I scratched my head searching for the proper analogy. I finally came up the recent movie The Hurt Locker, coming soon to DVD, about a bomb disposal unit working in Iraq.

What OIN does is delicate work, and dreadfully important. But as it is with land mines so it is with patents. In the time it takes to neutralize a few, hundreds more may be planted.

It's an arms race that can't be won. The only answer is to lay no more mines, or in this case to reform the patent laws so math, or software concepts, is no longer subject to ambush.

Topics: Microsoft, Legal

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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