A conversation with IBM’s top intellectual property lawyer

At the AlwaysOn conference I sit down with IBM’s top intellectual property lawyer. We talk about how he’d remake the patent system. The open source licenses he/IBM likes (GPL 2). Patent trolls.

Out of control bloggers who disclose things before they are patented. (Um, personal experience there).

And a lot more.

It’s not every day you get to sit down with one of the top software industry lawyers and have a conversation. Hope you enjoy.

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Comments

  1. Robert,

    I like the brief opening video with your pictures and your laugh which takes your spirit as I imagined when I read your posts.

    The lawyer is a need in an environment like today; this is a pity though. In the moment when we begin to do modestly well, the number of people who file a law suit is sub-real.

    I like the advise of these lawyer to most of the developers to seek advise to a lawyer early and often.

    Mario Ruiz
    http://www.oursheet.com

  2. Robert,

    I like the brief opening video with your pictures and your laugh which takes your spirit as I imagined when I read your posts.

    The lawyer is a need in an environment like today; this is a pity though. In the moment when we begin to do modestly well, the number of people who file a law suit is sub-real.

    I like the advise of these lawyer to most of the developers to seek advise to a lawyer early and often.

    Mario Ruiz
    http://www.oursheet.com

  3. It doesn’t matter if you disclose things before they are patented. We have 2 patents being published later this year, which were applied for late last year. The patent system is first come first serve. As long as you got the application in .1 milliseconds before the other guy, especially if you used the electronic submission system, you should be fine.

    http://www.beercosoftware.com/ip/uspto.jpg

    Here’s an example, albeit a bit blurred. I always wanted to work at the CSIS, I think this proves I’m qualified.

  4. It doesn’t matter if you disclose things before they are patented. We have 2 patents being published later this year, which were applied for late last year. The patent system is first come first serve. As long as you got the application in .1 milliseconds before the other guy, especially if you used the electronic submission system, you should be fine.

    http://www.beercosoftware.com/ip/uspto.jpg

    Here’s an example, albeit a bit blurred. I always wanted to work at the CSIS, I think this proves I’m qualified.

  5. “Patent trolls.”

    AFAIK, Patent trolling under the current system is common place. People who invent what tech they think will most likely come about anyway as a logical progression of technology then stick it to huge companies, such as IBM when they predictably use it. I would never… but some unscrupulous inventors have and will continue to.

    http://www.bluej.org/mrt/?p=21

    The link above is the worst form of patent trolling and AFAIK, only Microsoft dares to stupe down to the level of patenting other people’s inventions. Let’s hope that’s the last time they try that. Only public awareness can stop Microsoft from sinking to new and depraved lows in IT ethics.

  6. “Patent trolls.”

    AFAIK, Patent trolling under the current system is common place. People who invent what tech they think will most likely come about anyway as a logical progression of technology then stick it to huge companies, such as IBM when they predictably use it. I would never… but some unscrupulous inventors have and will continue to.

    http://www.bluej.org/mrt/?p=21

    The link above is the worst form of patent trolling and AFAIK, only Microsoft dares to stupe down to the level of patenting other people’s inventions. Let’s hope that’s the last time they try that. Only public awareness can stop Microsoft from sinking to new and depraved lows in IT ethics.

  7. Nice interview. Learned a lot.

    Chris, you’re just a sad, sad person in any forum you talk in. An interview with IBM and you bring up Microsoft. You’re just a pathetic little man. :/

  8. Nice interview. Learned a lot.

    Chris, you’re just a sad, sad person in any forum you talk in. An interview with IBM and you bring up Microsoft. You’re just a pathetic little man. :/

  9. @Harlequin,

    The C9 lawsuit court date is on the 27th of August. I submitted enough evidence to send the MS legal team packing(hopefully) within the 15 day pre-trial limit. We shall see. I’ll be up early that morning for sure.

    Scoble talked about Patent trolling, at least in his post and the most heinous examples of that were provided by non other than Bill Gates’s Micro-soft. Why not bring that up?
    Don’t you get tired sucking up to Microsoft?
    Just a little? (makes small gesture with thumb and forefinger)

  10. @Harlequin,

    The C9 lawsuit court date is on the 27th of August. I submitted enough evidence to send the MS legal team packing(hopefully) within the 15 day pre-trial limit. We shall see. I’ll be up early that morning for sure.

    Scoble talked about Patent trolling, at least in his post and the most heinous examples of that were provided by non other than Bill Gates’s Micro-soft. Why not bring that up?
    Don’t you get tired sucking up to Microsoft?
    Just a little? (makes small gesture with thumb and forefinger)

  11. Been there, dealt with the patent trolls, threw away the T-shirt.

    This is just another manifestation of the US fascination with contingency fees and other asymmetrical traps in our legal system.

    If the loser had to pay both sets of fees (e.g. Tort Reform) and we tracked down the other asymmetries (e.g. costs a lot more to defend against a patent holder than to claim infringement ala Trolls) the US legal system would operate in a way much more closely resembling justice. Instead, there are asymmetries that give one side, the side acting as Trolls in ways a lot broader than just patents, all the advantages. It’s cheaper to pay them off.

    Unfortunately, the lawyers like things just the way they are and they play to the fears of the less well off to keep it that way. I am curious where all the stories are from Europe about how poorly the little people are treated by legal systems where the loser pays all the legals. Seems to me that if our lawyers are right there should be massive unhappiness on a daily basis as ordinary folks are ground under the boots of Big Legal.

    Cheers!

  12. Been there, dealt with the patent trolls, threw away the T-shirt.

    This is just another manifestation of the US fascination with contingency fees and other asymmetrical traps in our legal system.

    If the loser had to pay both sets of fees (e.g. Tort Reform) and we tracked down the other asymmetries (e.g. costs a lot more to defend against a patent holder than to claim infringement ala Trolls) the US legal system would operate in a way much more closely resembling justice. Instead, there are asymmetries that give one side, the side acting as Trolls in ways a lot broader than just patents, all the advantages. It’s cheaper to pay them off.

    Unfortunately, the lawyers like things just the way they are and they play to the fears of the less well off to keep it that way. I am curious where all the stories are from Europe about how poorly the little people are treated by legal systems where the loser pays all the legals. Seems to me that if our lawyers are right there should be massive unhappiness on a daily basis as ordinary folks are ground under the boots of Big Legal.

    Cheers!

  13. http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=673017559&context=photostream&size=o

    There, now you know. Not that I haven’t posted this here before. I also sent a bunch of evidence in a few days before I left for Germany last week, and a retort at the MS legal response. I shouldn’t have written that it will send them packing. I should have said that what I sent in will give the court a much clearer picture of what really happened. I apologize, and I got a little carried away there. May justice be served.

  14. http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=673017559&context=photostream&size=o

    There, now you know. Not that I haven’t posted this here before. I also sent a bunch of evidence in a few days before I left for Germany last week, and a retort at the MS legal response. I shouldn’t have written that it will send them packing. I should have said that what I sent in will give the court a much clearer picture of what really happened. I apologize, and I got a little carried away there. May justice be served.

  15. The answer to your last question reinforces my opinion that in key positions Microsoft hires people who ACT smart, while IBM hires people who ARE smart.

    This guy described the IP system with complete clarity and honesty and drives at the issues it faces without even a hint of how this might adversely affect IBM. While IBM doesn’t always execute well, and has its fair share of mediocre middle managers, they continue to have a corporate philosophy that looks beyond the next contact closing. that shows in both their R&D efforts and in their approach to OSS, as witnessed here.

    IBM is a mature company, while I wonder if Microsoft is capable of maturing. This issue of globalisation coupled with IP may be the deciding factor.

  16. The answer to your last question reinforces my opinion that in key positions Microsoft hires people who ACT smart, while IBM hires people who ARE smart.

    This guy described the IP system with complete clarity and honesty and drives at the issues it faces without even a hint of how this might adversely affect IBM. While IBM doesn’t always execute well, and has its fair share of mediocre middle managers, they continue to have a corporate philosophy that looks beyond the next contact closing. that shows in both their R&D efforts and in their approach to OSS, as witnessed here.

    IBM is a mature company, while I wonder if Microsoft is capable of maturing. This issue of globalisation coupled with IP may be the deciding factor.

  17. @macbeach,

    IBM looks to *use* the patent system and other resources that are at it’s disposal. Microsoft tries to *abuse* them.

    http://www.fsf.org/free-software-award-2006
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Ts'o

    IBM has done a lot for the Apache project, the kernel and many other FOSS projects.

    This is Microsoft’s contribution
    http://port25.technet.com/

    A pathetic proprietary website which nobody visits and where nobody comments on posts. That and a failed coupon deal with Novell and a crappy pseudo OSDL lab. Oh and Get the facts and other paid for research.
    http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/11069

    Microsoft is like the dirty underhanded Boris in Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons. Always looking to cheat the rest of the industry and misuse resources.

  18. @macbeach,

    IBM looks to *use* the patent system and other resources that are at it’s disposal. Microsoft tries to *abuse* them.

    http://www.fsf.org/free-software-award-2006
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Ts'o

    IBM has done a lot for the Apache project, the kernel and many other FOSS projects.

    This is Microsoft’s contribution
    http://port25.technet.com/

    A pathetic proprietary website which nobody visits and where nobody comments on posts. That and a failed coupon deal with Novell and a crappy pseudo OSDL lab. Oh and Get the facts and other paid for research.
    http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/11069

    Microsoft is like the dirty underhanded Boris in Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons. Always looking to cheat the rest of the industry and misuse resources.

  19. Great discussion. Give us a same kind of discussion on copyright issues..like…what happens when someone copies someone’s web application in other language and make some changes..can the company which copied the application be sued or not?

  20. Great discussion. Give us a same kind of discussion on copyright issues..like…what happens when someone copies someone’s web application in other language and make some changes..can the company which copied the application be sued or not?