Many a little makes a mickle (of $70m).

I’m often asked why we choose to fight patent trolls. After all, might it be easier – and more economically feasible – to simply give in, pay the relatively small fee they’re after, and be done with it and get back to work?

That does seem to be the accepted wisdom for a lot of IT companies targeted by trolls. But not for KL. There’s a principle involved. Also, there’s the not small issue of saving not small sums of money over the years. ‘How much?’, you may ask. Well let’s just work it out today. The results, below, might surprise you. In fact, it turns out that fighting parasites costs less than allowing them to nibble little by little at our bank balance.

Source

But first, a lyrical digression to demonstrate how things usually go down when dealing with patent actions:

Digression begins:

First off, information about a new patent infringement lawsuit brought against IT Company X appears in the official court publication. Immediately after this, Company X is inundated with letters and phone calls from law firms offering to assist in dealing with the lawsuit, each firm insisting it would do the job much better than all others.

Now, I’ve written this before, and I’ve upset quite a few folks in doing so, but, well, I’m sorry, I just have to repeat it once more as it does appear that folks need reminding about it.

There are different types of ‘lawyers’: there are honest lawyers; there are crafty ‘consumer champion‘ lawyers; and then there’s another set: legal sales pseudo-lawyers. These belong to the rare breed of… con-artists psychologists in expensive suits with authoritative appearances and persuasive patters (anecdotes, witticisms, shrewd observations, success stories…), all of which add up to a convincing impression of reliability and trustworthiness. Oh, and they always want you to sign on the dotted line quickly. So you sign it. Next kicks in the standard scenario: much frenzied ‘work’ is done by the legal sales guys, creating mountains of documentation: petitions, motions, whatever. And all simply to give the impression that signing up with them was the right thing to do, and everything’s going to work out just fine as you’ve got these busy bees working for you.

However, eventually all the hustle and bustle comes to a halt… the legal sales guys suggest ending the legal process through an out-of-court settlement. Of course, that means a payment to the plaintiff and a hefty fee for themselves (which together is often equal to the initial $ demands of the patent troll). However, Company X is made to believe that it has secured itself a great victory, all based on their inimitable legal genius.

And everyone’s happy – Company X, the plaintiff, the lawyers. And that’s how the system works. Company X folks may have a sneaky feeling – especially at night – that somewhere, somehow, something ain’t right, but they just banish such treasonous thoughts further into the back of their minds so as not to get upset.

Digression ends.

Alas, that’s how the great majority of patent court cases end up if an outside consultant is brought in. But why? Because otherwise the consultant would have to actually get to know the company’s products, the technologies used, the documentation, and so on. Doing all that takes a long time. Much easier is to go for an out-of-court settlement and all that work is avoided.

Not that the above scenario is the only one possible. We know patent lawyers and law firms that diligently did do the hard work and eventually were successful – and not only in cases on recognition of patents’ invalidity, but also those on noninfringement of patents.

Still, more than 10 years ago, we took a decision to develop our own patent department. Why?

Because we understood that, (i) with the development of the business there’d be a proportionate increase in the number of trolls wanting to latch onto us; (ii) there was no point in expecting outsiders to help (see the digression above); and (iii) such a department of our own experts would be able to earn the company a decent side income in other ways. Calculations/projections were made, and the department was set up. Fast forward more than a decade, and those calculations/projections have turned out to be fairly accurate (see below).

I’ve already told you about how we do things in the patent courts. All cases were ‘dismissed with prejudice‘ or ‘denied’ (which is almost the same thing). Total funds paid out to patent trolls and to plaintiffs in class action cases: $0. But how much might we have paid? Let’s calculate it:

1. IPAT vs KL: we were looking at payment of 3-5% of our turnover in the U.S. over three years (~$8mln);
2. Lodsys vs KL: $25mln;
3. Device Security vs KL$1.2mln;
4. Three court cases with Uniloc: initially it was assumed that the demands would be similar to those this troll hit Electronics Art with – $5mln – for each case, but in the end Uniloc realized there was zero chance of that happening, so it announced it wanted $1.8mln off us for all three cases. So far, two of those three have been closed in our favor; the third – soon;
5. Wetro Lan vs KL: our efforts saw the case thrown out even before their demands were announced; therefore, we’ll take the minimum expected amount – $1mln;
6. A Class action just like the one against Symantec, the costs of which we’ll take as our reference: $2mln to the plaintiff’s lawyers, $9 (!) to each ‘injured’ person, plus a free three-month license for their commercial product;
7. A Japanese company (I can’t tell you which) sought 5% of our turnover in Japan, supposedly for patent infringement. What’s more, we’d have automatically received the exact same infringement action in the U.S., since issuance to it of a similar patent had already been approved there by the time we’d finalized our negotiations;
8. A claim of a tech partner for compensation of $800,000 for its losing a case for patent infringement of its own product: dismissed.

All the above-mentioned potential costs to us: $70 million! That’s without taking into account a mass of other claims and demands, which were successfully rejected by our team long before compensation was announced. And also not taking into account other non-patent cases like the recent antimonopoly proceedings against Microsoft: the benefits of our victory there are difficult to measure with money, since on the line was the multibillion-dollar business of thousands of developer companies and their partners.

And there’s another knock-on effect of our always sticking to our firm position not to settle with patent trolls: we get hit with far fewer patent infringement actions in the first place. Trolls know we never give in, so they give up trying their luck – more so now, since we’ve started hitting back at the trolls with demands for them to pay our court costs. But quite how much we’ve saved on this account is just too tricky to estimate, so we’ll just have to leave it out.

Still, we can look at our competitors for at least some idea as to how our principled stance has reduced the number of lawsuits heading our way. Over the last 10 years here’s how many patent infringement lawsuits they’ve received:

Symantec – 41; McAfee – 19; TrendMicro – 20; Sophos – 13; Avast – 11.

KL – 8!

Yet we all use very similar technologies, and in theory every lawsuit could be duplicated and directed at any or all other cybersecurity developers. And just for an indication of the sums involved for just one case: last year Sophos lost a patent infringement case against Finjan and had to fork out $15mln (!!).

So there you have it folks: the proof of the patent pudding is in the eating having your own patent department – it saves you much more than you’d spend feeding trolls. Having our own department also allows us to deal with other law-related stuff, like legal expert analyses of products to be released, due diligence, and development of our patent portfolio in the U.S., the cost of which is now estimated at more than $100mln.

Finally, the above-mentioned also confirms the validity and correctness in our motto with regard to patent trolls: ‘We fight to the last bullet – their last bullet!’.

IT antimonopolism: analysis, amazement, (+) frame of mind.

Some readers of the technical part of my blog, wearied by this year’s summer heat, may have missed a notable landmark event that occurred in July. It was this: the European Commission (EC) found Google guilty of abusing its dominant position in relation to an aspect of the mobile OS market, and fined the company a whopping 4.34 billion euro (which is around 40% if the company’s net profit for last year!).

Why? Because, according to the EC, “Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers [including forcing Android device manufacturers to pre-install Google’s search and browser apps] and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search.”

It all seems perfectly logical, apparent, and not unprecedented (the EC’s fined Google heavily in the past). Also perfectly logical – and expected – is that Google has appealed the decision on the fine. Inevitably the case will last many years, leading to a spurious final result, which may never become known due to an out-of-court settlement. And the reason (for the lengthy court case) won’t be so much a matter of how big the fine is, but how difficult it will be to prove abuse of dominance.

Ok, let’s have a closer look at what’s going on here…

Source

Read on…

The end of the beginning in the fight against patent trolls.

For much of August and September of this year I was forced into ‘working from home’, something I don’t normally do. So with zero globetrotting/commuting/working out/interviews/speeches and other daily workday chores, I had rather a lot of time on my hands. So I read. Lots. There was plenty of the usual bad news, but, occasionally, there was some very good news in there too. In particular, there was good excellent news from the front in the fight against patent trolls: a district court of Texas rejected Uniloc’s lawsuit against us for infringement of patent US5490216. This is the infamous patent that since the early 2000s had struck terror into the hearts of IT companies, added years to the appearance of many a patent lawyer, and mercilessly lightened the wallets of more than 160 (!) companies – including Microsoft and Google, no less.

But the excellent news doesn’t stop there folks!…

The combined efforts of the IT industry have secured the invalidation of the IT patent-from-hell. But it’s not just the invalidation itself that’s worth celebrating; also worthy of champagne quaffing is the fact that the invalidation heralds serious (albeit long overdue) change in the U.S. patent system. Sure – it’s only ‘slowly but surely’ for now, but slowly is at least better than no change at all; especially when the changes have global significance: at last the IT industry can start to pluck the patent parasites off its back that do nothing but bloodsuck hinder technological development.

The ball hasn’t merely started rolling, it’s racing down the hill: developers are becoming freer in what they can do – protected against persecution from owners of (excuse my Belgian) BS patents: those describing abstract and at times blatantly obvious things, which in practice aren’t even applied or are used only for ‘milking’ developers of similar technologies.

All told, the story of patent ‘216 reads much like a thriller – so much so that I thought I’d retell it here for your thrill-seeking pleasure. So go get a coffee (better – popcorn) and settle back down for a mini-nailbiter from the patent parasite side…

Read on…

Banksy comes to Moscow!

He’s here folks – the mysterious international graffiti artist of mystery has come to Russia!

Privyet Banksy!

Street art, graffiti and other such hooligan-creativity was once the preserve of the seediest suburbs of, say, New York and London. Today, it’s on show even in the Central Artist’s House exhibition hall just opposite Gorky Park in Moscow, shocking the Russian public in all its avant-garde satirical edginess.

Yes, the Banksy exhibition is running for four months – from June 2 to September 2; so if you’re in the capital over summer, here’s a mandatory must-see for your calendar and all the calendars of everyone you know. For this is not to be missed – by anyone!

Meanwhile, I can’t choose which photo to show you first in this here blogpost. They’re all just so special and individual in their own way. It’s like when someone asks you what your fave song of your fave band is – you can’t really give a proper answer as you like so many! Ok, first photo… it’ll just have to be the first one I took:

Ok, so who is Banksy?

No one apart from himself/themselves // and the police! // really knows. Ok, there are bound to be a few folks know – but they’re all keeping stum about any real identity/ies. I give the plural too as there is a theory that it’s more than one individual – a collective of now probably very rich street artists.

So who are you, Mr. Banks?

Read on…

Photo-quiz: where were these pics taken – the Arctic or Antarctica?

Hi Folks!

As promised, herewith, a rewind back to all things polar… – but with a twist. It’s not a full-on description of what I was doing recently up at the North Pole, or why; that, I’m sure (if I do ever get some free time, finally!), will come later.

No, this post is a bit of fun. Why fun? Because I’ve been on the road for three weeks now, visited 10 counties/territories in the process, and think I – and by extension you – need a little fun. (And I need to get home fast too to recharge my batteries, catch up on sleep, and lower the levels of adrenaline in the bloodstream.)

So, fun?…

Yes: for this here post is a quiz. Just that in itself is a twist (since when has a whole post of mine been nothing but a quiz?). But there’s more twistiness: it’s a purely visual quiz – as in, all questions relate to photographs (taken be me). No wordy brainteasers.

Ok, now, the word in bold above gives the game away to some extent as to what these pics are of (and, thus – what this quiz is about), but, and here’s even more twistiness: it just so happens that this quiz, based on these pics, isn’t just about the North Pole. It’s also about the South Pole, since, handily, I’ve been to both. And since I don’t know many folks who have been to both the top and the bottom of the world – and in fact none who are also photography freaks like me – well, I thought I’d capitalize on this rare lucky combination and have a bit of fun with it. Crikey, that’s a long intro to explain just what this post is about!

Ok, long explanation over, let me put it another, laconic, way: this is a visual quiz where you have to work out where all the following pics are taken: near the North Pole in the Arctic, or near the South Pole in Antarctica. That’s it! (What could be simpler?:)

Oops, nearly forgot: there are four non-visual questions in this quiz too. They are:

  1. How do you get to the North Pole?
  2. How do you get to the South Pole?
  3. Why would you want to get to the North Pole?
  4. Why would you want to get to the South Pole?

I’ve quite a few different answers to those four (they’ll come in a later post), but I’m just curious as to what you might come up with. Maybe your answers would be way cooler than mine?

Anyway, without much more of ado, let’s get this polar quiz started:

  1. To start with, two of my fave polar pics. No guessing needed for these two; they’re just a warm-up:

    Btw: you won’t believe how far those mountains in the background on both pics are. Ok, you can guess those distances too ).

Read on…

Happy World IP Day!

April 26: significant for you? Perhaps it’s your birthday? If not, I bet you’re a patent lawyer, or someone who works with patent lawyers. For April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day! Accordingly, yesterday I congratulated all those connected with this tricky profession, and wished them every success within it.

Actually, not all those connected with this profession. Not patent trolls, and not legal white-collar ‘consumer champions’. I wish them… you can imagine.

But back to the positive…

Hearty congratulations to all the KLers in our IP protection department (that’s dozens of headstrong specialists with unique expertise, led by the uniquely headstrong N.K). Hip, hip hooray!

So, on this special occasion, we decided to do a mini-retrospective – to look back over how our IP department developed, and to then look to the future to forecast how it’s going to further develop.

Read on…

Фэбruaяy 45, 2018.

I love Russian winters. Everything coated in spotless (at least on my balcony at the office) driven snow, and when the sun comes out, the beauty of the serene scene is multiplied several fold:

But wait. Typo, surely, no? Russian winter? But we’re 16 days into spring already. At least, that’s what I thought. What’s going on here?!!

Read on…

Blade Runner or Lame Runner?

Of all the sci-fi movies ever made, just a few stand out as true masterpieces. One of them, IMHO, is Blade Runner, released in 1982 (depicting the year 2019 – next year!).

And you may already know about there being a sequel, which was released last year – Blade Runner 2049. Well, I finally got round to watching it the other day on a plane.

So what can I say? It’s a goodie, for sure. But it ain’t no masterpiece. I’d put it on a par with, say… Passengers. I’ll give it 6.5 out of 10. The original was a straight 10/10 – up there with the other best-ever sci-fi movies, like Solaris, Stalker, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. But the sequel (as is often the case), was a bit of a let-down.

Herewith, my brief pros and cons of Blade Runner 2:

First, the pros:

+1: As already mentioned, overall it’s still a good film: original, well written, well directed.

+2: The Russian word Целина (Tselina) is written correctly on the greenhouses at Sapper Morten’s farm (This is a reference to Khrushchev’s ‘Virgin Lands’ campaign (Osvoyeniye Tseliny) in the Soviet Union where citizens were moved to undesirable and sparsely populated land to start farms and grow food).

Next, the cons:

-1: For me, the biggest and most unforgivable con is how Wallace and his replicant, Luv, are portrayed; i.e., as (very bad) baddies. In the first film, there are no baddies at all; replicants kill, but that’s what they’re designed to do by their makers – humans – and they kill only for understandable reasons: to survive or out of desperation, after all they get themselves into some awful situations. In the new film these two are maniacal sadist types completely lacking in moral compass, but, like, with zero explanation as to why. Grrr.

-2: Luv on her own. She’s Wallace’s right-hand replicant. His ‘first angel’, she can enter his room without knocking; however, she’s also engaged in direct sales, at one point explaining to a client how a product can be customized (the first scene at the Wallace Corporation). Nonsense. What, did they want to save on the number of actors needed for the film? I really don’t remember any such bizarre half-baked scripting in the first film.

-3: Assorted other puzzling bits. In particular:

– There’s dialogue at one point in a home for the elderly between Deckard and Gaff. And suddenly they switch to Hungarian. WHY? So everyone would look it up on the internet to see what it means (btw: nyugdíjas means pensioner in Hungarian). Yes, it’s cityspeak, but why the sudden switch? What’s it mean – if anything? Again, unfathomable. Could it mean Deckard is also a replicant and he was ‘retired’? No, he’s in the ruins of Las Vegas with a dog and a cistern of whisky. So, where’s the Hungarian connection? And how come no one else is in Vegas, attracted by this endless stock of vintage Scotch?

– There’s a character called Dr. Ana Stelline. Turns out Anastellin is a drug that suppresses tumor growth. Again, WHY? What’s the deep significance of this? (Maybe you know? > the comments).

-3.1: The scene featuring the child trafficker’s ledger. Why does the camera give us this sequence: back, hand, palm, ashtray – which is turned round to reveal a pic of a horse. Of course he then remembers everything, but that would have been obvious without the mysterious camerawork. Once again: WHY?

Btw, there are some good subtleties too. For example, in the ‘children’s home’ they shave the boys’ heads while leaving the girls’ hair to grow long. So – K’s recollections are of a girl, specifically of the girl who planted the recollections. Good, subtle, cool.

-3.2: Another unexplainable: a wooden toy horse costs a ton of money. However, in the very first scene of the film we see dead trees on farmland. Why didn’t the farmers saw up the trees into pieces and become millionaires?

-4: How does a replicant get into the chief of police’s office? Through the wall like Terminator? And how does she get into the police station’s evidence vault, which would have been guarded well, with dogs, video surveillance, and so on. Teleportation? So why doesn’t anyone else do teleportation? And why don’t they show the teleportation? How K got in there is shown. How the lunatic replicant got there – a mystery.

-5: How Roy Batty got into the bedroom of Tyrell is clear. How Luv moves through well-guarded walls – another puzzler.

-6: At the very end, how does K find out that Deckard is being driven in one of three cars. Telepathy? He destroys the other two (which didn’t fire back). The third, with Deckard, is only partly wrecked.

-7: Why doesn’t the super-astute K check his own DNA in the archive where he checked Rachel’s DNA? How could he not think of that one?! How to read others’ memories – he’s got that licked. A modicum of common sense – a complete lack of, all of a sudden.

Despite the cons far outweighing the cons, this is a film to be watched. But just once ).

Digital 2018 – pt. 2

Hi folks!

Quite a bit of motivation is needed to solve interesting brainteasers. Thankfully I’ve never had any trouble mustering motivation. But more about that in a bit…

First up, as per the requests of many, two brainteasers that don’t require a calculator or computer – it’s quicker using a trusty old pencil and pad. All righty…

Brainteaser No. 1

There exists a really beautiful 10-digit number. The first (left-most) digit in it is the overall quantity of 0s in this number. The second digit – the quantity of 1s. The third – 2s. And so on. The last digit is the quantity of 9s. What is that digit?

It’s not as hard as it may at first seem. To solve it you need merely (i) a head, (ii) a brain inside it, and (iii) the ability to use it. So good luck!

The second riddle is a little more difficult. Even if you have a head, a brain and ability, not everyone will get it. This one’s solving is probably reserved for arithmetic geniuses – the sort that are able to multiply large numbers in their heads. Let’s see…

Brainteaserdestroyer No. 2

Does there exist a natural (whole, nonzero, positive) number that gives upon multiplication by 2018 a result that consists of a number made up of 10 1s and/or 0s? (everyone’s a programmer here: it’s all about the 0s and 1s:). In other words, is it possible to multiply 2018 by something whole and positive so that the result of the multiplication only has 0s and 1s in it – and is 10 digits long? If yes – let’s see it! If there are many – which is the smallest, and by how much? If there are none, explain the reason why.

Ok all you smart alecks, and Alexandras, thinking caps on! For the best/funniest answers – prizes!

And now a bit on how last week’s riddle was solved:

Digital 2018 – pt. 1

How to get 2018 out of the sequence 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 and its truncations: 9-…-1, 8-…-1 and so on?

Here’s how:

Read on…

Digital 2018 – pt. 1.

Boys and girls!

December’s here again already. Over the next few weeks there’ll be the usual Christmassy-New-Year good vibes, then there’ll be the presents, fireworks, champagne, mistletoe, more champagne, and then the clock will strike midnight and we’ll have a +1 to the eternal yearly calendar. Then, for perhaps the first few weeks of January we’ll all still be saying and writing the date as day/Jan/the year 2017; oops, 2018! We all do it! I think ).

Twenty-eighteen. It has a ring to it; yes – a nice, round number. And each numeral that makes up the date is an even number… What? You’re not sure about 1? Come on! 1 is 2 to the power of zero. Kinda :). But wait! There’s more even-ness in this number: each digit of 2018 is a power of two. But what don’t you like about zero? Well, think of an artificial number, raising it to the power of which two gives zero – what, difficult? Now think of an imaginary ‘i’, the square of which gives -1. Come on: such a sexy number as 2018 is just crying out for working a sweat up about :).

Ok, ok; agreed. We won’t spoil arithmetic with all kinds of unnecessary chimeras, to the power of which each decent two turns into an empty zero. But then, as per Chinese tradition, eight means wealth! So get ready – 2018 should be blessed with prosperity; there’s no chance of avoiding it!

Sooo. It’s time to stretch and warm up for what is bound to be an infinitely interesting – and perfectly prosperous – year. So let’s get stuck into some 2018-related arithmetic. And what comes to mind first? Yes: evenness.

2018 = 2*1009

1009 is a prime number. A bit like 2017. Last year I promised that 2017 would be a simple, straightforward year. And look how in the end it turned out! Now we need to get ready for an extra-simple/straightforward year, aka – a minus plus a minus gives a plus.

What else? The sum of all the numerals in 2018 is 11: a most photogenic number from any angle, and one that’s dear to me for technical reasons: the product of all nonzero numerals = 16, which can’t not raise the spirits of any programmer on the planet.

Ok, enough. Warm-up over. Let’s move onto our already traditional New Year arithmetic exercise. Here we go…

Given figures: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Using only ‘+’, ‘-‘, ‘*’ and ‘/’, plus ‘(…)’, all in any quantity, and also using exclusively these figures only once and only in that order… – how do you get 2018?

For example:

((10 + 9 – 8) * 7) + (6 + 5) * (4 – 3 + 2) + 1 = 111

Here we get 111. But we need to get 2018!

Marks, get set, go! Who’ll do it first to become the champ?

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

Once you solve it, you go to level two: Get 2018 from the same figures minus the 10.

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

Got it? > Level 3…:

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

I managed these without a calculator – and without peeking at last year’s brainteaser – in around 20 minutes in Shanghai waiting for my flight to Moscow. My attempt at the next one was interrupted of course by the inevitable ‘turn off your devices’ nonsense on the plane, but once the ‘seatbelts fastened’ light went off, I carried on where I’d left off:

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

This one is impossible without a factorial. I think we could allow here powers and roots too.

6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2018

Here I needed a multifactorial.

All righty. From ten figures to six: done. We’re half way there. Next up will be the second part of the brainteaser: from five and down. But we’ll save that for next time. For now, I’ve a party to get to!…

Cheers!