The hoop-snake world of patent trolling just took another bite on its own tail, with Microsoft suing Acacia Research over licenses Microsoft licensed from Acacia Research, but which Acacia Research has declined to license to Microsoft.
Currently under seal, the lawsuit has been filed in the southern district, New York, of the US District Court. Microsoft is complaining that Acacia, which is currently suing Microsoft over patent infringement, has violated a contract to license smartphone and mobile computing technologies to Redmond.
Microsoft probably has reason to feel at least a little aggrieved. Back in 2010, it opened the wallet and pulled out an undisclosed number of used-once notes to license 74 patents from Japanese company Access, via Acacia Research. At the time, Access claimed to have shipped a billion mobile phone browsers.
With licenses for Access' technology in hand, Acacia had already lobbed sueballs at Apple, RIM (now BlackBerry), Samsung and Motorola, among others.
Acacia then seems to have suffered a bout of amnesia about the Microsoft deal, and in October, it sued Redmond for violating the Access patents.
Microsoft's new filing is in defence against the new lawsuit.
According to Reuters, Microsoft counsel David Howard said: “Acacia's lawsuits are the worst kind of abusive litigation behaviour, attempting to extract payment based on litigation tactics and not the value of its patents.”
Certainly, Acacia has form as a megatroll: either under its own name or via
sock-puppets subsidiaries, its targets over the years have included Intel, AMD and Via; Red Hat and Novell; Skype; the afore-mentioned Apple/Samsung/Moto/Blackberry group; Apple, PayPal and Victoria's Secret; Nokia, HTC and Sony.
In a schadenfraudic (it is a word, now) twist, the Washington Post is accusing Microsoft, along with IBM, of "killing" the patent reform moves initiated by the US government.
"One of the bill's most important provisions, designed to make it easier to nix low-quality software patents, will be left on the cutting room floor. That provision was the victim of an aggressive lobbying campaign by patent-rich software companies such as IBM and Microsoft", writes the Post's Timothy Lee. ®